Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chris Abele's Corrupt Corp Counsel

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and his administration sure have problems when it comes to emails and ethical behavior.

First we learned that Abele has been emailing his BBFF (Best Blogger Friend Forever) Aaron Rodriguez for over a year, using the unwitting Rodriguez as   his ghost writer.  Abele then took advantage of his ghost writer to spread unfounded innuendo and false rumors against the County Board and specifically against Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, all in order to give impetus to his plutocratic power grab bill, which was stalling in the state senate.

This was quickly followed by the news that Abele was using his personal email account to conduct county business, which in Abele's mind includes bad mouthing other county elected officials.

As story after story of Abele's inappropriate conduct started coming out, Abele decided to start playing games with open record requests by charging exorbitant amounts of money for requests that he was filling for free just weeks before.

But just like with Scott Walker, when it comes to all things Abele, it seems that there is more.  There is always more.

Cory Liebmann cracked open another major ethical lapse by Abele's administration.  This time it deals with the head of Corp Counsel, Kimberly Walker.

Liebmann found an email from Walker which had some very disturbing implications:
"Please see the following below... my two-cents worth.  FYI - trying to play this forward in my mind.  With the exception of my email, this email string will not be exempt from open records requests.  Should you wish to preclude its disclosure, please send additional comments, revisions etc., only to me with the names of others who should see it, and I can forward. Just a thought."
It should be noted that the email was addressed to Abele, Abele's Chief of Staff Amber Moreen, Abele's then Director of Administration Patrick Farley and other staffers.

Liebmann was concerned about this and rightfully so.

He asked Walker for clarification on what she meant by this and got a run around.

He then consulted with Bill Lueders, President of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, who looked at the original email and the following run around and gave Liebmann this statement:
"I am troubled by her response. Communications to and from corp counsel are not automatically protected. The public is entitled to know what her office does and to whom it communicates as much as for any other office. Attorney client privilege pertains to those communications in which the office is providing or being asked to provide legal advice, not anything that comes its way or whenever it feels like. I don't see that she is making those distinctions in these communications; I do hope her office is making them in practice."
I would add that there is another problem with this.  Walker's role is not that of a company lawyer answerable to only the CEO, as it was in her old job.  Walker answers to both the county executive and the County Board.

To summarize, Ms. Walker overstepped her authority by advising Abele how to circumvent not only the Board - which is inappropriate - but also any future open records requests - which is unethical and illegal.

The fact that she wasn't actually aware of the laws and was giving not only illegal, but faulty, advise only further proves that she is not qualified for that job.

There are a couple of things that need to happen, sooner rather than later.

One, Walker needs to resign from her position.  And if she won't, Abele needs to fire her.  He can always sweep her under the rug like he did with Farley when things got too hot after Farley's botched attempt of framing former Supervisor Johnny Thomas.

Walker cannot effectively remain in her position given that she was providing faulty information, advising Abele to circumvent open record laws using that faulty information and was working against the Board, to whom she also reports.

Secondly, Abele needs to explain why he left her in that position for more than a year after she sent that email.  It is pretty obvious that Abele thinks he is above the law, but he still needs to be held accountable, especially since he is pushing so very hard to have all the power consolidated in his hands.

As more of these stories come out, it makes one wonder what else is he trying to hide from the public he is supposed to represent.

The only thing that it doesn't make one wonder about is why people are referring to Abele as Little Walker.

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