Thursday, November 29, 2012

Walkergate: Four Down, One To Go, ? Pending

About five years ago, my friend and mentor, Jay Bullock, gave me the opportunity to enter the world of blogging by inviting me to his site, folkbum's rambles and rants.

Even from those early days, I was calling out Scott Walker and his faithful friend and confidant, Tim Russell, for their cronyism and corruption.

During the past five years, I pointed out the repeated acts of corruption from Walker and Russell. I took a lot of grief for it too. I was smeared by the worst of them, from Charlie Sykes on down. I was told that I had "Walker Derangement Syndrome." I was called a liar and had my life threatened more than once.

I even had people try to get me arrested and when that failed, fired, for doing exactly what Walker and his people were doing, even though I wasn't.

I told everyone and anyone who would listen to keep an eye on Tim Russell, that he was the weak link in Walker's chain of corruption.

And lo and behold, I received some degree of vindication when Russell, as well as four others, were arrested and charged with various crimes for Walkergate.

Russell was charged with embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from a veterans fund and two political funds. He used that purloined money to pay for vacations to Hawaii and the Caribbean. He also used some of the money to take a trip to meet and schmooze then presidential candidate Herman Cain. He also used some of that money to pay for things like Scott Walker's campaign website.

On Thursday, the matter involving Russell came closer to closure when he finally accepted a plea bargain. In said plea deal, Russell admitted to all three counts, although he will face punishment for one charge, the one involving stealing from the veterans fund.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Russell gets basically three things:
  • He won't get charged with misconduct in office,
  • He won't have to testify against anyone else, and
  • Prosecutors will recommend only 30 months in prison and 30 months of supervised release.
Those are pretty big things.

If he was charged with all of the possible misconduct charges, he could have easily been in prison for the rest of his life. And while the judge is not constricted to follow the prosecutor's recommended sentence, it does carry a lot of weight. For the one charge, Russell could serve as much as ten years in prison and pay a hefty fine.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 22, 2013, which coincidentally is the same day that Russell's partner, Brian Pierick, has his motion hearing regarding his Walkergate charges of child enticement.

There are a couple things from today's event that needs to be addressed.

One is the quote given by Russell's attorney, Parker Mathews:
Russell "is looking forward to finally bringing these matters to a close and continuing to put his life back together," said Parker Mathers, Russell's attorney. "I also make note that this agreement does not require Mr. Russell to testify in any other matters, and that means a lot of good people are not going to have to testify for the defense and can bring a close to this story." He would not elaborate.
The Walker apologists will undoubtedly latch onto this and try to spin it that this means that Walkergate is all but over, just like they've done over every other development in the Walkergate investigation for the past year.

But don't you believe them.

The DA's Office isn't going to let Russell - or Kelly Rindfleisch or Darlene Wink, for that matter - get off so easy when they could have gotten them for so much more unless they are really going after bigger game. They could have easily taken any of these cases the full length and had each of them put away for a long, long time.

What it means is that Russell already gave them the information they sought and that the next round is going to go in a different direction than the illegal campaigning. Something much more serious with bigger players.  Possibly the bid rigging and strong arming for campaign contributions.

To put it in other words, the five people originally arrested and charged are not the end game, but rather just the beginning.

The other thing that I need to point out is something that is so outrageous and egregious that it made me do a spit take:
The governor's campaign spokesman, in a written statement, said: "Gov. Walker strongly condemns the actions taken by Tim Russell which took advantage of all the volunteers who worked so hard to honor military members and veterans with an annual recognition event."
The hypocrisy and the falseness of this statement is breathtaking.

Just think about it.

Scott Walker and Tim Russell have been friend for more than 25 years. Russell has worked just about every one of Walker's campaigns in those years. And when they weren't in campaign mode, Walker would give Russell some cushy job, whether he was qualified for it or not. To say that Russell was in Walker's inner circle is almost an understatement.

These two men know each other inside out as well as one person can know another.

Yet Walker was only able to offer condemnation of Russell's actions. One would think that after having known Russell for so long and having worked with him so closely day in and day out for all those years, Walker would have expressed feelings of shock, of dismay, of sadness and of betrayal.

But Walker expressed none of those feelings, only condemnation.

Walker didn't express them because he didn't feel them.

And Walker did feel those feelings because he knew all along what was happening.

It was Walker who was using Operation Freedom, the program that the veterans fund was to be used for, as a thinly veiled campaign stunt. And even though Walker was fully aware that Russell had been fired from the state when he used a state credit card for personal purchases, he willfully put control of these funds directly into Russell's hands, through a front group controlled by Russell.

I think that the only thing that Walker was really condemning was that Russell got caught.

So, the end result of the day is that we now have four of Walker's top aides convicted of felonies, one more with a trial pending and only God and the DA's Office knowing how many more are about to come in the next round or rounds.

So buckle up your seatbelts and get a good grip on your popcorn. This ride ain't anywhere close to being over.


  1. From his days in the Assembly, what an appropriate milestone to mention Gov. Walker's campaign slogan, "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime."

  2. I sense the DA is trying to keep a low profile with this investigation as he moves forward. He's well aware of Walker's ability to spin (LIE) his own tall tales for the public as he did with his terrible jobs record during the recall.

  3. Walker is a classic sociopath who is incapable of empathy and is thus able to dismiss the plight of his long-time special friend in a perfunctory manner. He only feels the reptilian pleasure or pain of winning or losing the game.

  4. Given Walker's public comments about the Grand Jury investigation, it's quite clear that the Guv is "fishing" for information on the DA's strategy, and, also, attempting to get the DA to make a mistake that would put the investigation in jeopardy. This is confirmed for me whenever Walker's RW media types take to dissing the DA or Grand Jury or related investigations. Still, the DA maintains his silence and does not "take the bait". People have been commenting on blogs, however, that the DA maybe pursuing RICO racketeering charges against Walker (and others), similar to what happened to Blagojevich, who was sent to prison for 14 years on RICO charges. By agreeing to plea deals on one, two, three, four...and now five of Walker's closest aides and associates, the DA has a "group" of criminals. Because he doesn't go to trial, the DA doesn't have to share the extent of his evidence (just tantalizing 'excerpts' at sentencing hearings). Still, this evidence is damning enough that Walker has to make a public statement...while the DA says...nothing. And, if the DA has a "group" of criminals tied to Scott Walker...all he needs to do, to make a RICO charge stick, is show how Walker was the leader of this criminal organization ordering others in their criminal activities. My guess is there's a lot to be found in thousands of emails (and that mysterious Dumpster-o-Fun you talk about) to tie the whole thing to Walker. Why else would Walker need to spend $320,000 (probably more now) to have criminal lawyers help him find/review his own emails? If I was DA, I'd first establish the existence of a criminal group. Then, I'd nail the head honcho who directed that group, even though the head honcho thought he was keeping himself at arms length from his thugs (Wink, Rindfleisch, Russell, etc.).

    1. Yes we should remember the the DA's office has been working closely with the DoJ on this case from the beginning. They are very good at taking down criminal organizations. Just ask any one of the crime bosses that thought he was going to out smart the Feds and wound up in jail.

  5. Anonymous is exactly right! You're dead on! I look forward to reading more blog posts and tantalizing perspectives as this thing moves forward. It is clear that with all the plea deals there will be much bigger fish to fry. I love how walker buddies complain that the investigation is taking to longer. Let us not forget that the investigation into blago took something like 4 years...mark my words-since walker built it...the charges will come.

  6. "... the next round is going to go in a different direction than the illegal campaigning..."

    I don't agree with this sentiment. From what we already know wrt Wink, Rindfleisch, Russell, the released emails, and the precedence set by the Caucus Scandal, illegal campaigning (and conspiracy to illegally campaign) would be the most logical place to start when it comes to bringing charges against higher-ups. If the DA indicates that there will be no more charges relating to this aspect of the investigation, the odds that different charges get brought would have to be lower (since illegal campaigning would be an ace in the hole at this point).

    My point is, the feds couldn't pin Al Capone with anything other than tax fraud when it was apparent that there was so much more. If the DA feels that they can't get Walker for what seems to be a sure thing at this point, then my optimism decreases by a measurable amount.

    Just my 0.02$.

    1. Never under estimate the Feds, they're very good at getting convictios and eventually they did get Big AL and he died in jail.
      We may see history repeat itself: