The Wisconsin John Doe investigation involving close aides of Governor Scott Walker has taken some twists and turns in the past few months, but none as interesting as some recent bickering between the District Attorney and the attorney for one of the defendants, Tim Russell.
Tim Russell was Scott Walker's close friend and aide right up until he was arrested and charged with embezzlement in January 2012, based on evidence obtained in the John Doe investigation. In fact, it was Tim Russell who received the order from Scott Walker via his campaign email account that there were to be no further stories like the one about Darlene Wink being fired for posting pro-Walker comments on websites on Milwaukee County's clock. That email triggered an IM chat from Kelly Reinfleisch to Tim Russell confirming that the secret email system they'd installed in the Governor's office had been turned off.
It seems that Tim Russell is a little upset that negotiations for a plea bargain in his case haven't progressed, and so his attorney filed a Motion to Dismiss based on truly flimsy grounds, which District Attorney Bruce Langraf responded to, point by agonizing point.
That response has many, many little nuggets to chew on and Capper at Cognitive Dissidence summarizes the whole mess. But let's pay attention to this, particularly in light of Governor Walker's "revelation" on Tuesday to Politico that he aspires to national office.
Here's the full text of that, just in case it's hard to read. It's an email from Scott Walker to John Hiller. Hiller was Scott Walker's campaign treasurer and aide for eighteen years. It reads as follows:
Sun, 26 Sep 2010
Here is an update --
Bice is not going to write for Sunday. It will be Monday. He does not view it as a blockbuster by any means.
Focus of his story is Bill Gardner and the investigation into his contributions. The matter was referred to the DA for criminal prosecution. I am told that the FBI is also investigating. Walker is included in the story.
In the column, Bice will also update the Russell/Wink investigation story. He has seen a copy of a search warrant so he can confirm the John Doe probe. See link below. That is the ccap entry for the John Doe. It has been assigned to Judge Nettesheim from Waukesha County. The records are sealed so you can't see anything but he used it for confirmation because he saw the case number in the warrant.
I'm told that additional subpoenas were issued and would go out next week.
Bice got much of his info from Darlene Wink's atty. Weismueller sent Bice a letter outling [sic] her innocence. A search warrant was executed at Darlene's home and her computer, cell phone, modem and records were taken.
I believe that Bice will point out that the DA is a Democrat and is close to Barrett. He will also point out that there are no charges or implications that Russell did anything wrong.
There's so much hinkiness here it's hard to know where to begin. Let's start with the date: September 26, 2010. That was about a month before the Wisconsin election for Governor, so it would appear that Tom Barrett was going to be scapegoated for the ongoing investigation. What a surprise. It's almost predictable.
As an aside, it should bother everyone that this aide had that kind of access to a reporter and information that was to be, but had not yet been, published. Bice is the JSOnline reporter who blogs about Walker goings-on.
Beyond that, this email indicates that Scott Walker was very concerned about this inquiry. So concerned he was dispatching his closest aides to pick the brain of a reporter in order to get whatever information he could about what District Attorney Landgraf might be poking around in.
The Bill Gardner mentioned in that email is the same Bill Gardner who cut a deal with the DA over his illegal campaign donations to Scott Walker. It seems that he made donations to Walker in the name of employees in order to beef up the money in Walker's coffers.
One may reasonably conclude that at least thirteen people connected to Scott Walker's campaign or his time as Milwaukee executive were involved in one of three different illegal schemes. They were either using official time to run campaign operations, stealing from bogus charities to fund Walker's campaign for governor and other as-yet undisclosed activities, or they were parties to insider illegal land deals.
One of his major campaign donors broke election laws in order to beef up contributions to Walker. One of his (former) employees is charged with embezzling $25,000 from a charity intended to benefit veterans (Russell). Another Walker appointee is charged with embezzling over $42,000 from a local Purple Heart Chapter. Employees were running a shadow network to keep communications outside of the scope of open records requests, and are now facing jail time for that.
And John Hiller, author of the email above, was Scott Walker's campaign treasurer and co-chair of his gubernatorial transition team. Hiller's partner was Michael Grebe, CEO of the Bradley Foundation, that right-wing fount of money to their Chosen Ones. Hiller resigned as Walker's treasurer in April, 2011 after eighteen years with him so he could cash in on a new consulting business. Or something.
I haven't seen a politician surrounded by as many crooks since the days of Richard Nixon, which is why these declarations to Politico by Walker just sent me into peals of laughter:
“A wise governor told me a long time ago, political capital you don’t get more of by keeping it. You get it by using it,” Walker told POLITICO this week.
The Wisconsin governor, who does not rule out running for president in 2016 after winning his June recall election, wants to help elect as many GOP candidates as possible in 2012. He’s told Mitt Romney’s campaign that he will travel anywhere the governor thinks he can help. Walker plans to forcefully fundraise for the Republican Governors Association, which spent around $15 million supporting his last two campaigns. And the governor sketched out plans during a Monday interview to support a batch of candidates this year in the Badger State.
“I have not made any plans for the future, and my wife would kill me if I announced anything before that,” he said.
Asked about 2016, he added: “I’m not announcing for anything.”
But the post-recall Walker, only 44, does intend to speak out more on substantive issues. He will weigh in on health-care mandates after the Supreme Court’s expected Thursday ruling, for example, and he’ll keep calling for budget and pension reforms.
“I’d like now and into the future to play a bigger role not only in Wisconsin and the Midwest, but nationally,” he said. “I’d like to have an impact.”
Based on what I'm seeing, Walker's national impact might be strongest when he's perp-walked to the police cruiser before heading down to the police station and many corruption charges, federal and state.
You keep dreaming, Scotty.