In January 2012, Wisconsin's political and legal landscapes underwent a major upheaval when five of Scott Walker's top aides and close allies were arrested and charged in relation to a John Doe investigation, commonly referred to as Walkergate.
One of the five people arrested and charged was Walker's then Director of Constituent Relations, Darlene Wink. Wink, who was also an officer of the Republican Party of Milwaukee County, was charged with illegal campaigning while on county time and using county equipment. Apparently even then, Walker considered his campaign donors to be his true constituency.
Shortly after Wink was arrested and charged, it came out that she had been in plea negotiations with the DA's office. She was given a proverbial slap on the wrist in return for her testimony against the other defendants. The plea deal also required that Wink give testimony in any future cases involving the "destruction of digital evidence."
Wink's sentencing was delayed numerous times due to the wait in regards to a possible proceeding in Waukesha County, but it was never made clear with what or with whom that proceeding was about.
Likewise, it was never made clear what the "destruction of digital evidence" was all about.
A friend of Cog Dis sent me a tip that resolves both of those loose ends.
Via a Public Reprimand by the Office of Lawyer Regulation OLR), we learn that Attorney Christopher Wiesmueller contacted Wink just after she was charged and offered his services pro bono. It turns out that Wink and Weismueller knew each other through the Republican Party of Milwaukee County.
At their first meeting after Wink retained Weismueller's services, Weismueller advised her to scrub her laptop of all incriminating evidence and offered to assist her with doing that. She left her laptop with him and Weismueller proceeded to destroy the digital evidence using downloaded software.
Weismueller admitted to the OLR that he knew that what he had destroyed probably would have had evidentiary value to the prosecutors.
Weismueller then proceeded to lie to the prosecutors by saying that he had only advised Wink to destroy the evidence, but did not tell them that he had actually destroyed the digital evidence himself.
From the OLR report, Weismueller's own confession shows how serious this is (emphasis mine):
Based upon Wiesmueller’s statements, the prosecutor obtained a search warrant for
Wiesmueller’s law office. At the investigator’s request, Wiesmueller came to the office and was present during the execution of the search warrant. Wiesmueller provided the investigator with copies of the material that Wiesmueller had copied from his client’s computer. In the course of providing this information, Wiesmueller revealed the content of his discussions with his client during their initial conference and offered his impression to the investigator that the computer files and emails were “the most damning things.” Wiesmueller reiterated that he told his client “to get rid of” the evidence. He did not admit that he deleted the information from the client’s computer.
The case was eventually referred to the Waukesha County District Attorney, Brad Schimel, who is the Republican candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General. Schimel's handling of the case was utterly disgraceful:
The prosecutor referred the matter of Wiesmueller’s destruction of evidence to the
Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office as the alleged crime had been committed at
Wiesmueller’s law office located in Waukesha County. The Waukesha County District
Attorney agreed to forego filing criminal charges against Wiesmueller provided he made
a thorough and complete report of his conduct to the Office of Lawyer Regulation.
Wiesmueller reported his conduct to OLR in July of 2012. He did not incur any criminal
sanctions as a result of his conduct in destroying the digital evidence of his client’s crimes.
So, instead of charging Weismueller with at least a couple of felonies, which would have been slam dunk convictions, Schimel let his fellow Republican off with being publicly reprimanded.
This alone shows just what kind of Attorney General Schimel would be. With the high level of corruption in this state, he is exactly the wrong kind of person for the job.
That alone should disqualify Schimel. But with all things Walkergate related, there's more. There's always more.
Digging through my archives on these two until now mysteries, I found these two paragraphs about the matter:
Yesterday, I noted that Darlene Wink's sentencing hearing was adjourned for four months in order to guarantee her continued cooperation against Tim Russell and a mystery case in Waukesha. I speculated that it might have something to do with Walker's campaign.
Since then, Marie Rohde, writing for WisPolitics.com, reported that Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel wasn't going to prosecute the suspect because he couldn't "demonstrate that he knew what he was doing was wrong." Schimel described it as a "side issue" not involving campaigning from work. What he didn't say is whether it had something to do with illegally coordination between Walker's campaign and Walker's county executive office.
Schimel knew exactly what had happened and that they were felonies but still chose not to charge his fellow Republican. Then he lied to the public about it to help cover up the involvement of Scott Walker and his campaign.
Not only is Schimel unfit for Attorney General, he is unfit for his current position as Waukesha County District Attorney.