Thursday, September 11, 2014

Walkergate: Dark Money's Deep Desperation

By now, the gentle reader has probably seen, or at least heard of, the tale told by Stuart Taylor, Jr. regarding the John Doe investigation into Scott Walker's corruption.  The article appeared on Legal Newsline, a propaganda group sponsored by the right wing cabal known as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Taylor's fallacious smear job alleges that the Walkergate investigation and subsequent charges and convictions stem from Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm's desire to avenge his wife, a school teacher and union steward, for the emotional strife caused by Walker's Act 10.

For a multitude of reasons, these allegations should be treated with a high level of skepticism, if not outright derision.

The presentation of Taylor's story should cause suspicion even before one gets into the meat of it.

In a highly suspect bit of coincidence, Taylor's story just happens to come out on the same day that the appeal of a ruling by Judge Randolph Randa, ordering the investigation to be stopped, was to be heard. It's almost as if the Dark Money groups behind the lawsuit read their tea bag leaves and saw that the appellate judges weren't going to be very favorable to their stunt and wanted to get out in front of the bad news.

Adding further doubt to Taylor's tale is the fact that his only source is an unnamed, faceless former prosecutor that had supposedly worked for Milwaukee County.  It is curious that this unknown source claims that he is no longer working for Chisholm, yet is still afraid to be identified.  It is also curious that this individual was apparently close enough to Chisholm that he had overheard Chisholm's declaration of revenge but yet obscure enough that no one can figure out who he is.

Even if the gentle reader can give the benefit of the doubt to these curiosities, it is quickly discovered that there are other anomalies that are even harder to explain away.

Taylor correctly states that Walker's former Chief of Staff, the late Tom Nardelli, went to Chisholm's office in 2009 to complain of some missing money from a "county charity."  The charity in question was Operation Freedom, a thinly veiled campaign stunt for Walker, which he was told to take out of his office and handled independently.  As we already know, Walker instead put the money in the hands of his long time friend, Tim Russell, who also was stealing from the fund to pay for lavish vacations and Walker's campaign websites.

But this is where Taylor's story really starts to unravel.

Taylor mewls that the investigation should have stopped when they found the thief, but that Chisholm continued to investigate Walker and his staff.  Taylor accurately relates that Nardelli grilled Chisholm about the continuing investigation, alluding that Walker and company were unaware of the continuing investigation until May 2010.

However, that is a false statement.  The reason for the John Doe was because the investigators found other irregularities stemming from the original complaint.  When they tried to look into these irregularities, Walker started to stonewall them.  And that is what prompted the actual Walkergate investigations to start:
The document appears to cast doubt on some of Walker's claims about his role in launching and cooperating with the investigation.

On May 5, 2010, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf filed a petition with court officials asking if his office could initiate a secret investigation into what happened with $11,000 in donations intended for Operation Freedom, an annual event honoring veterans.

By making it a secret John Doe investigation, Landgraf wrote that prosecutors might get better cooperation from Walker's office, which had been "unwilling or unable" to turn over records and information needed in the investigation. He said he would need to subpoena county records and officials.

"It may be the County Executive's Office is reluctant to provide information to investigators due to a fear of political embarrassment," Landgraf wrote, noting that Walker was then running for governor.
John Chisholm
I would remind the gentle reader that the DA's office did a raid of Walker's county executive office on November 1, 2010 - the day before Walker was elected governor.

I would also remind the gentle reader that Taylor accused Chisholm of conducting the John Doe as revenge for Act 10, which wasn't even introduced until 2011 and allowed to enacted until 2012.

Obviously, whether one wants to say that 2009 or 2010 was the starting date of Walkergate, either is well before Act 10.  Unless Taylor and his mystery former prosecutor are willing to say that Chisholm is a Time Lord and hopped in the Milwaukee County TARDIS to travel two years into the future and saw his wife's anguish and figured out that it was from Act 10, their accusations fall flat.

Come to think about it, that addition would be no harder to believe than the rest of their tale.

But wait! There's more.  There is always more.

Taylor and his unknown source claim that the DA's office was reminiscent of a union hall, festooned with blue fist posters:
The culture in the Milwaukee district attorney’s office was stoutly Democratic, the former prosecutor said, and become more so during Gov. Walker’s battle with the unions. Chisholm “had almost like an anti-Walker cabal of people in his office who were just fanatical about union activities and unionizing. And a lot of them went up and protested. They hung those blue fists on their office walls [to show solidarity with union protestors] … At the same time, if you had some opposing viewpoints that you wished to express, it was absolutely not allowed.”
Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looked into this aspect of the story and found that it had no substance:
Also Wednesday, an attorney with Democratic ties who defended clients caught up in the Doe probe said he saw no evidence of political bias or union support in their dealings with Chisholm and his office.

He said he didn't observe signs with a blue fist, a pro-union symbol that Legal Newswire said was displayed by some workers in the office.

Legal Newsline quoted the former Chisholm subordinate as saying that the district attorney "had almost like an anti-Walker cabal of people in his office who...hung those blue fists on their office walls (to show solidarity with union protesters)."

Leib, Chisholm's attorney, did not respond to a question about the signs.

Defense attorney Mike Maistelman said he never observed any union insignia in visits to the DA's offices, though he cautioned that he might have missed them.

Maistelman, a Democrat, represented a former deputy chief of staff to Walker as Milwaukee County executive during the first John Doe probe.

"I never saw any blue fists but I saw a lot of red faces," said Maistelman, referring to his back and forth with prosecutors.
Given the all of the story's inconsistencies, conjectures and fallacies, it's hard to give it any credence.

It smacks more of an act of political desperation.  Considering that Walker is trailing in just about every poll, is receiving bad economic and/or job creation news on what seems like a daily basis and could very well face the continuation of the Walkergate investigation, it is very believable that Walker and his supporters are scared to death.

This story appears to have all the reliability of Kyle Wood's accusations against US Representative Mark Pocan's partner.

And just as in the Wood's allegations, it's particularly disgusting that they have to drag Chisholm's wife into it.   Then again, if they had any sort of decency, there wouldn't have even been a need for the investigation in the first place.


  1. But it accomplished their goal- it got the lie into the paper, and enough morans in bubble-world will beLIEve it. Very Nixon-like. I just wish the J-S wouldn't jump to print every goofball allegation that RW propaganda types.

    But I agree, the squealing from the oligarchs tells me that they think Randa's ruling is getting thrown out. And Walker's desperate moves and smears tells me they're losing, and in danger of slipping out of sight.

  2. As I always say, U.S./WMC the people who work for them are whores for corporate billionaire America.

  3. The right wing smear-meisters are doubling down on this story. During the last hour of the Thursday afternoon Mark Belling show, Belling launched a withering attack directed at Chisholm's wife.

    In a 20 minute tirade focused solely on the character of Chisholm's wife, Belling referred to her with numerous derogatory slurs including calling her a "Crybaby Whining Teacher" and a "Degenerate Union Hack" and said that the St. Francis school district should fire her because she obviously doesn't care about the students, only her union.

    Is there any depths to which the right wing propaganda machine will not lower itself to protect their leader, Scott Walker? They can't successfully impugn DA Chisholm's character, so now they attack his wife?

    I don't even want to speculate on the target of the next despicable attack from the right wing in Wisconsin.

  4. That's language that could be construed as stochastic threats. I think it's time to ask Scotty if he thinks what Belling said is OK, and that you thought it was OK to give a libelous smear attack on someone not associated with the case. And not go away till you get an answer.

    That's 10 times beyond anything Debbie Wasserman Schultz said last week, and make no mistake, this report and the AM smearfest is being done on the orders of Walker and his puppetmasters. Also, why is AM1130 and AM620 allowing this garbage on their airwaves? They'll look pretty idiotic when Randa's decision gets tossed out of court.

  5. The timing of Stuart Taylor's latest has everything to do with SKW and his right wing sponsors worried about not getting their desired outcome from the Chicago District Court.
    Their method of stopping the investigation was to throw it into the Federal courts, using an obviously partisan hack judge to get their desired result.
    Now the Chicago Court might not play along with their
    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's legal arm, it's Institute for Legal Reform, which owns the Legal Newsline, publishes this disinformation for the corporate media like MJS to promote.
    Stuart Taylor, Jr. works through a shady outfit called the American Media Institute, which is run by Richard Miniter. Miniter was partners in college at Vassar with Marc Thiessen, scribe for Scott Walker's 'Uninintimidated' book, putting out their right-wing Spectator student newspaper.
    Miniter became a fellow at the Koch's original think tank, the Institute for Humane Studies, which has Eric O'Keefe as a member of its Board.
    Miniter and his outfit have earned a sleazy reputation in journalism by using the same techniques, like using anonymous sources and portraying false timeline narratives, to sell his political venom, whatever the momentary concern.
    Maybe the MJS work to clean up its journalistic act by checking out some sources before printing questionable political propaganda.

    1. I think the timing, if not intentional, comes conveniently close to when Chisholm's work led to the real 'game-changer' (pace Sykes). The real game changer is that G-Tac paid Walker's campaign and got itself a mine in return.

  6. Now that's some serious work, Anon. Great work. Didn't know about the Thiessen connection. Serious right-wing bubble-world slime there.

    Now if you can do that, why can't the Journal-Sentinel or any other paid "journalists" do that? Is it laziness, or just being PAID OFF?.

  7. Capper, thanks. Great comments too.

  8. The smear is not working with the base. That assessmet comes from a limited sample. My 80 y.o. parents are life long republicans. The same for my 75 y.o. aunt. They won't vote for a democrat, but they won't vote for Scott Walker either because of his "ethics issues". He is losing his base because he has abandoned their values and sold his soul to the high bidder.