Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Walkergate: "The Campaign Group"

As I just wrote about, when Kelly Rindfleisch was in court to be sentenced today, the information that came out during the hearing not only shook the courthouse, but the entire state.

Among the myriad of bombshells dropped was the fact that there was not just one or two overly zealous aides doing the illegal politicking, as the right wingers would have you believe, but that it actually involved most, if not all, of Scott Walker's administration and top campaign officials:
Landgraf said "The Campaign Group" included Walker, Gilkes, campaign spokeswoman Jill Bader and campaign adviser R.J. Johnson. It also included several top county aides to Walker: Cindy Archer, who was county administration director; county chief of staff Tom Nardelli; spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin; housing director Timothy Russell; and Rindfleisch.
It struck me that this list was insufficient as that it did not include all of the names or what roles they played.

I will endeavor to address this issue now by providing a scorecard of sorts of the who's who of Walkergate, presented in no particular order.

Darlene Wink: Wink is the woman who kicked off the whole Walkergate mess. She was Walker's constituent liaison as well as a co-vice chair of the Republican Party of Milwaukee County. She opened this can of weasels when she got busted leaving comments on JSOnline, promoting her boss and trashing his opponents in the primary and general election. She has since entered a plea deal and turned state's witness against all of her co-conspirators. She is due to be sentenced on November 21, but this could very well be postponed again.

Kelly Rindfleisch: Rindfleisch is a GOP operative who Walker hired to first be a policy advisor and then his Deputy Chief of Staff. By her own admission, she spent half of her work time campaigning for Lt. Governor candidate Brett Davis and Walker, even though her past involvement in the caucus scandal should have taught her that campaigning on the taxpayer dime is illegal. She was just sentenced to jail, but the sentence was stayed while she files an appeal. It should be noted that Walker and WISGOP had bought her silence and to take the fall.

Tim Russell: Russell is a long-time special friend of Walker's. Russell worked on all of Walker's campaigns. In between campaigns, and often during them, Walker would appoint Russell to county positions, including Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Housing. Russell is also the one that set up the secret router and email system that Walker's crew used to campaign and avoid open record requests. Russell's trial for embezzling from a veterans group starts on December 3rd. Russell could also be eventually charged with many more crimes as well. It will be interesting to see if Russell will have better thoughts and take a plea deal like Wink or if he will be emboldened by Rindfleisch's sacrifice for the team to fall on his secret router as well.

Keith Gilkes: Gilkes was Walker's campaign manager. He was also found to be in regular contact with Walker's county staff and even directing them to do things to benefit the campaign. Walker rewarded Gilkes by making him his Chief of Staff in Madison. Interestingly, there have been complaints filed that people seeking contracts or other boons from Walker needed to email Gilkes at his consultancy email address instead of through official channels.

Jill Bader: Bader was Walker's campaign spokesman. Not only was she tied up in the daily campaign/county conference calls, she also was famous for making racist tweets and setting up meetings at official county events.

Cindy Archer: Archer was Walker's Director of Administration at Milwaukee County. We have already known for some time that Archer was in contact with Walker's campaign and was developing strategies on how to deal with events and issues that would paint Walker in a bad light. In other words, she was part of the damage control team. Walker rewarded her with jobs in the state, including lucrative pay raises. It is rumored that Archer has a grave medical issue now.

Tom Nardelli: Nardelli was Walker's Chief of Staff at the county. It is rumored that he was hired as a reward for not running against Walker. He quickly became Walker's enforcer in the county, bullying who he could and firing who he couldn't. However, I knew Nardelli was bad news long before this broke out. My late grandfather, may he rest in peace, told me not to trust him. Indeed, Nardelli had claimed that he had no idea who hired his deputy chief, Rindfleisch, or why they did. The emails show that the truth is that he was as much part of the collusion between county staff and campaign staff as anyone.

Brett Davis: Davis is a former representative who was running for Lt. Governor. He was Walker's first choice and Walker had his staff help him at every turn. Even though Davis didn't make it through the primary, Walker kept him close and made Davis his Director of Medicaid Services. Davis has not been charged with a crime...yet. It is worth noting that Davis also had his house raided during the investigation.

Judith Rhodes Engles: Engles is the primary fund raiser for State Senator Scott Fitzgerald. Engles had taken part of Walker's campaign motorcycle tours of the state, even though Walker tried to pretend that they were really to promote tourism. She was also in contact with Rindfleisch, even sharing Fitzgerald's most prized possession, his list of major campaign donors.

Fran McLaughlin: McLaughlin was Walker's spokeswoman at the county. We had already learned that she was helping with campaign press releases while working for the county. McLaughlin, along with Wink, was also the one that handled my inquiry regarding a photo taken by Brew City Brawler showing an Americans for Prosperity banner showing a county parks logo on it.

Cullen Werwie: Werwie was first Davis' campaign manager, then moved to Walker's campaign after Davis failed to make it through the primary. Walker rewarded him by making him his gubernatorial spokesman. Curiously, Walker has kept him in that role even though Werwie has been granted immunity. Perhaps this is way of buying his silence as well?

Jim Villa: Like Russell, Villa was an all positions player, serving as Walker's Chief of Staff at the county as well as working on Walker's campaigns. There is a plethora of emails between Villa and Rindfleisch related to campaign issues even while she was working on the taxpayers dime.

John Hiller: Hiller was Walker's campaign treasurer for eighteen years until Walker suddenly decided he was not up to the job. Hiller is also a realtor that tried to use his dual positions to do bid-rigging and pay for play for Walker.

Reince Priebus: Priebus was the head of WISGOP during this campaign. There was at least one email sent to Priebus by Wink, during her work hours at the county, regarding a campaign issue. It would also have taken someone at Priebus' level to help coordinate some of the collusion between people, such as Fitzgerald sharing his campaign donors with Walker and Davis.

Michael Grebe: Grebe is the head of the Bradley Foundation and was Walker's campaign chair. Not only was he involved with some of the emails, there is the apparent collusion between the campaign he chaired and the foundation he ran, especially when it came to voter intimidation billboards. And I'm not the only one that found Grebe's actions suspect.

And last, but in no way least of the Walkergate characters is Scott Walker himself. Monday's hearing showed him involved in many emails between county and campaign. But not only did he partake in this exchange - as the gentle reader already knows, there's more, there's always more - he was directing it:

Given the number of people listed and the overwhelming amount of evidence we already know about, it is almost impossible for any honest, rational person to believe that the Walkergate investigation is anywhere near to being done. I still expect that once Russell's trial is over, and the new fiscal year starts for the DA's office, we will be riding this roller coaster again.

And hopefully, we will get the answers to two pressing questions.

One, does Walker still stand by his words from 2006:
"Unfortunately, we have a Governor and administration that condones unethical and illegal behavior," Walker said in a statement on Jan. 24, 2006. "The people of Wisconsin deserve better."
Or when he said this:

And two, who is John Doe?


  1. "Or when he said this:"

    [ N O L I N K ]

  2. A)Walker campaign spokesman Tom Evenson said, "...[Walker faced] challenges in the course of a campaign that require[d] routine communication by both sets of staff...". He said it wasn't "unusual". Well, there goes plausible deniability. Unless it's now, "Well...I knew they were working together, I just didn't know they were WORKING together".


    1. Things from the ppt:

      Slide 2: Pledged to throw Russell under the bus. Russell has to be bummed to hear that.

      Slide 7: She says Russell and Gilks were the ones to sign off on her campaign at work initiative.

      Slide 35: "The County Executive has asked that we conduct a conference call daily". WE in this case = Gilkes, Bader, Johnson, Archer, Russell, McLaughlin, Nardelli, Rindfleisch. The goal? "So that we all know what the others are doing" and "good coordination".

      Slide 3947: Campaign Media Group. This looks to be the most damning evidence against SKW. Emails directly to and from SKW, during the work day, to those mentioned above, on private email and/or campaign email accounts. To boot? The campaign staff reading county documents and then drafting speeches/policy for Walker to use in his capacity as County Exec.

      Slide 70: Gilkes informing Scott that he's working with Rindfleisch on the campaign to temper the fallout from the Wink scandal. Sent during the workday.

      The other thing to point out is that Walker didn't seem too concerned about checking and sending emails during the day. That one little thing could have insulated him. If it is as bad as it looks, there will be 100s of emails between Walker and both sets of staff during the working day. Plus, as it's now shown that he knew what was going on, he is liable for his own crimes, plus aiding and abetting the crimes of his subordinates. I guess it will all hing on how many emails he pumped out of his campaign account and to who.

      All of the above is regarding the county doing campaign work. How does the DA address the campaign doing county work? Every email Walker or his staff sent regarding the county business would have to fall under property of the county. This gets a little bit more murky, but it is definitely egregious.


    2. Thanks for posting this link.

      Thoughts? Is goose on the Landgraf menu for Thanksgiving? I can think of one that's almost cooked.

    3. I don't know. Reagan and Cheney escaped unscathed. Set your expectations low.

      One thing I can say, I guarantee you that Walker will try to have a bill drafted and signed legalizing this sort of conduct the day the new session of congress starts. This information is damning and Walker knows more will come with Russell's trial and Wink's sentencing. The new session of congress starts what, 07JAN? If I'm the DA, I'm charging walker on 06JAN.


  3. Kelly Rindfleisch and the Walker Campaign: CHEAPSKATES!

    From slide 61 of the prosecution's sentencing Powerpoint:

    From: Kelly Rindfleisch
    To: stephanthmpsn (Stephan Thompson)

    Stephan- I was going through the JS archives looking for history on Park East and the restrictions the county board put on developers. I came across a series of articles about the city of Milwaukee holding up development. I was going to send them to you in case there is anything that would be useful to refute Barretts claim. I have to cut and paste because you have to pay to get articles out of the archive. Here's the first one.