Saturday, September 22, 2012

Walkergate: Can I Get A Witness?

Eight months ago, I introduced you to Kelly Rindfleisch. I pointed out at the time how I thought Rindfleisch could become a pivotal character in the ongoing investigation into Scott Walker, his campaign and his staff, commonly referred to as Walkergate.

Sure enough, five days later, Rindfleisch was arrested and charged with four counts of illegal campaigning.

Now after eight months of some of the juiciest tidbits and some of the most frustrating attempts by Rindfleisch to stall or even derail the slow wheels of justice, we are just a few weeks from her jury trial.

And even though the trial is still some three weeks away, savory pieces of information keep coming out.

One of the most savory came out on Friday. The District Attorney filed their pretrial documents, including the state's requested jury instructions, their proposed Voire Dire Questionnaire, their witness list and their proposed verdict forms.

It is the witness list that has generated the most buzz.

The list contains 35 names, but unfortunately, neither the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel nor has shared the full list. But what they have shared is still pretty damn interesting.

Some of the names include:
  • Brett Davis, Scott Walker's first choice for Lieutenant Governor. Davis was unsuccessful in his bid, but Walker kept him around by appointing him as the state Medicaid Director, a move that even conservative pundits questioned. Rindfleisch was Davis' main fundraiser during his short-lived candidacy.
  • Michael Huebsch, Walker's Director of Administration and his right hand man. The listing has Huebsch down as "an event host," which the news outlets are interpreting to mean a specific campaign fundraising event.
  • Keith Gilkes, Walker's former campaign manager turned Chief of Staff turned back to campaign manager.
  • Cullen Werwie, Davis' former campaign manager, currently Walker's spokesman. Werwie is one of the biggest names of the people who have been granted immunity. The fact that Walker has kept Werwie on staff has also caused criticism from his conservative supporters.
  • Jim Villa, former Chief of Staff for Walker while at the county. Villa was also involved with a lot of Walker's campaigning. Villa's name has also come up in the investigation into possible bid rigging while Walker was still Milwaukee County Executive. Villa was also Rindfleisch's vacation buddy.
There are some names which are conspicuous by their absence, such as: Tim Russell, who set up the secret router system Rindfleisch was using to do her illegal campaigning and was doing her job before she replaced him; Darlene Wink, who was working under Rindfleisch and also doing illegal campaigning; Fran McLaughlin, Walker's former spokeswoman and who was granted immunity for her testimony on how Rindfleisch had her proofread campaign mailers; and Andrea Boom, Rindfleisch's BFF who sold her out for a mere $47.60. Boom is currently Walker's campaign finance director.

But the biggest name on the list is none other than Scott Walker himself.

Oh, the imagination just runs wild at the thought of what questions they might be putting forth to Walker.

But I also foresee the possibility of trouble by putting Walker on the stand. I could see it becoming a case of he said/she said on whether Walker ordered her to do the illegal campaigning or whether he even knew it was going on.

Walker's name on the witness list does explain some things though.

It reinforces my thoughts that Walker is getting extremely nervous and thus is throwing Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Tommy Thompson all under the bus as he starts raising cash again for his legal cooperation fund.

It also would explain Walker's new found interest in the Constitution. Even though he has no use for the First Amendment and has so much as called the Constitution as being backwards, I bet he has the Fifth Amendment memorized and recites it in his uneasy, nightmare ridden sleep.

Then again, Walker might not need the Fifth Amendment since he has shown that he has no qualms whatsoever about blatantly committing perjury. If I was the Milwaukee County District Attorney, I'd have that complaint already drawn up, simply needing to insert the actual words used when Walker perjures himself and the date.

It should be noted that the final pretrial hearing is coming up Monday, but I don't expect much to come out of that except another request of delay by the defense. I don't expect that request to be granted given all the time they have been given already.

But as we wait to see what indeed comes on Monday and at the trial, I just want to give the gentle reader, and Kelly Rindfleisch, an appropriate musical interlude:

Up early in the morning with her on my mind
After finding out all night that I been cryin'
But I believe a woman's a man's best friend
And I'm gonna stick by her till the bitter end
Well she causes so much misery how's a gal supposed to be
Somebody somewhere tell her it ain't fair

Heh. Even Walker must be appreciating that verse.


  1. Great catch on who is NOT yet on the witness list. Very interesting.

    Somehow had missed/forgotten the Vegas link with Villa.

  2. You can catch Scott Walker in a lie by this telling characteristic. He explains (or thinks he's explaining) his answer by stringing a series of meaningless phrases together in a single disjointed sentence. Goes something like this, in response to "Did you lie, yes or no?": "Well, to answer you directly, and, I think my staff can confirm this, of course my staff knows me better than I do, which means that you'll always get the truth from me, and people are right when they say 'It's working.", right there's the answer."

  3. Looks like the prosecution is doing all the proper legal preparation to have these trials done right. No chance of Walker and company trying to discredit the trial or getting a mistrial.
    On a somewhat related note, looks like Walker's rats are abandoning ship on him, now that all this (il)legal stuff is facing the music.
    Paul Jadin, current head of Walker's failure at job creation efforts with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., is fleeing to the private sector (like Keith Gilkes did).
    Come November, Jadin takes a job with a Madison-area economic development group.

  4. Gilkes jumped ship to the sinking thompson campaign!

  5. You don't have to be Patrick Jane to be able to recognize that Walker lies. Phoniness oozes from every pore on his body. He's a well practiced liar who does so whenever it is to his advantage. Really it's pretty hard to miss.

  6. Looking forward to seeing how this plays out. That said, while I agree with you that Mr. Walker cares nothing for the rule of law except when it can be perverted, your notion that the Governor is just a policeman there to enforce laws passed by the legislatures is well...naive and mis-informed.

    1. Oh, I think you're misinterpreting my position on what a governor does.

  7. The DA is likely calling Walker up to see if he'll perjur himself, tell the truth, or plead the fifth. If they already have solid evidence that he's led this cabal of idiocy (which they do), but want to ensure he doesn't get off on a technicality (see WISC), the best way for them to put him in a bind is exactly this (because, as far as I know, you can't be charged with perjury during your own trial - you can lie all the way to the bank). If they get him to lie under oath, it makes it much more difficult for another court to throw out AT LEAST THAT conviction (see Scooter Libby & the Nixon coverups). It's always the coverup that gets ya...

    Of course, Walker knows this and knows what info they have on him. So, he will not lie. The 5th and truth are his options.

    The 5th puts him in a political bind and leaves Rindfleisch hanging, since he wouldn't end up falling on the sward in that case. But remember, the day she is convicted, he can pardon her. So, the 5th and then a pardon are probably the most likely scenario. However, that doesn't help his case out down the road.

    On the other hand, he may very well tell the truth that he *kind of* knew what she was doing, but understood that all campaign stuff would be done on personal time, not office time. He could say he instructed Russell to make sure XYZ campaign work was done after hours, but that Russel ended sending the wrong message and/or abusing his power by getting Rindfleisch to do it during the day (and Rindfliesch didn't know any better). It's all Russell's fault in this case. If he can tell *just enough* truth to not perjur himself, while still pinning the whole thing on Russell, I think that would be his best attack. It's a fine line. But remember, Kelly asked Russell if she'd go to jail in that IM log and he said, "Nope, you're good to go!". And then Walker sent the email telling them both to stop it. So, if he thinks he can thread that needle, he could get Kelly off the hook, establish an alibi for his own case, and just throw Russell under the bus.

    I'm sure the DA also wants to make sure that all of these bozos are in a position that is least likely to allow for them to just lie and get pardoned. That brings it back to "just blame Russell".

    The interesting thing is, if this goes to the Feds, anything Walker thinks he's doing to help his case now would be for naught and could actually harm him down the road.

    1. I'd also like to be be the first to suggest that WALKER will not pardon his minions. He'll find a way to get out of the state for a few days and get Kleifisch to do it, since she is acting Gov. while he is out. That gives him another degree of separation from this cluster and still gets those morons off the hook.

    2. Anonymous 8:57 -

      You have some of your facts wrong. Russell assured Darlene Wink, not Rindfleisch, that she wouldn't get in trouble or go to jail. And the way he sent the email does more damage to him than anything else. He sent it via his campaign email, showing he knew of it and condoned it, at least until they caught.

    3. Good catch Capper. I haven't reviewed all those pdfs since May. Either way, I still think the angle of throwing Russell under the buss is as likely as a plead the 5th marathon. Russell was Rindfleisch's boss for a good portion of the shenanigans, after all.

      (I'd also like to emphasize that the smoking gun email is just that, but Walker will need to justify it one way or another....saying it was an "emergency campaign bulletin" notifying his minions to stop doing campaigning at work, while simultaneously blaming Russell for the whole thing may be his best/only defense. The only caveat being, Team Walker doesn't know what other charges/evidence the DA has yet to make available, thus putting Walker in a greater position to perjure himself).

      I'd say there is going to be a lot of "I can't recall" (ie. the Alberto Gonzales defense), followed by "Russell did it", with a smattering of "I plead the 5th". That will be capped by an Acting Gov. Kleifisch pardon of Rindfleisch.

  8. I believe the reason the DA is calling Walker as a witness is because if he didn't the defense would. This gives the prosecution more strategic control over the direction of the testimony. They can ask Walker questions that will establish the factual basis implicating Rindfleish in the alleged crimes and then sit back while the defense attacks his testimony and attempts to establish that she did everything under his direction, forcing Deadeyes to either perjure himself or Plead the Fifth. It's the best of both worlds really.

    The appearance of Walker on the prosecution's witness list also serves as psychological gambit. Reindleisch has attorneys who are being paid by people who want to protect Walker? At what point does she begin to feel like she is being set up as the fall girl, that her attorneys are not working in her best interest and start wondering if there is still a chance to cut a deal?

  9. Good stuff... Russell wouldn't be eligible to testify, since is also being charged. Also, Walker on the witness list w/out being given immunity suggests to me that he has reached some sort of off-the-record deal where he will testify against his former aides in exchange for not being charged... a sort of VIP immunity deal.

    1. I've gotta disagree with you, Jud. They're not going to give the big fish in favor of catching the smaller one. Besides that, they have enough to put away Rindfeisch without Walker's testimony. He's not a make or break the case type of witness.

      I'm firmly in mind that they are setting him up for something else.

  10. Jud,

    The only reason I could see that happening is if federal charges were coming AND the DA wanted assurance that Russell and Rindfleisch wouldn't be pardoned (but I can't believe that DA would be silly enough to trust Walker there...that also seems like such a deal could be improper, if not illegal.

    But that idea seems questionable as Rindfleisch and Russell both seem to be in very different situations. Rindfleisch seems to be well funded and well defended, while Russell seems to be getting set up as the scapegoat. If that is the case, then Walker would be less likely to want to roll on Rindfleisch, since she needs to roll on Russell to keep Walker insulated.

    That also leaves open questions about the "Dumpster of Fun" and the other ongoing investigation mentioned in the Wink deal.

  11. Can I share this, in its entirety with the Racine Journal Times?