The video above shows then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker making a campaign stop during what he called a tour of Wisconsin to promote tourism. As evidenced in the video, everyone kept forgetting the pretense and acted like it was what it was - a publicity stunt to promote his campaign.
The little, squat man in the out of style Air Tran polo shirt is long time friend, campaign aide, county aide and confidante, Tim Russell. Russell is also one of the six people arrested, tried and convicted stemming from the first John Doe investigation - commonly referred to as Walkergate - into the illegal politicking done by Walker and his aides.
Russell was convicted of stealing from a veteran's fund called "Operation Freedom," which Walker used as another campaign stunt. Russell claimed, in his defense, that Walker authorized him to take that money.
Jud Lounsbury at Uppity Wisconsin reports that after serving two years in prison, Russell was released this week, no longer to be prisoner #00597584. Not that Russell had to do hard time. His sentence was at a minimum security prison with work release privileges. He landed a job with a wealthy Walker donor in what I'm sure was pure coincidence.
Russell really can't complain about his time in the big house - even though I'm sure he will. Russell actually got off light.
Besides stealing from the veterans fund and from two political campaigns, Russell was up to his neck in a lot of other sordid activities.
He was involved with illegal campaigning using government time and equipment. He also established a secret router in the county executive's suite so that he and Walker and the rest of their cohorts could avoid open records requests.
The Walkergate investigation also revealed that Russell and his life- and business partner, Brian Pierick, were trolling underage boys for sex. (WARNING: The link contains very graphic and very NSFW language.)
Although the investigation showed Russell involved with all of this crap, he was never charged for any of it as a result of a plea bargain. In Russell's case, bargain is the key word. He should have been locked away for a long, long time.
Despite their decades long friendship and special bond, Walker is probably the person who is least happy about Russell's release from prison.
Just as Walker is heading out to Iowa, California, New Hampshire and who knows where else to try to get some traction for his presidential bid, the last thing he wants is people to keep being reminded of just how corrupt he is.
Then again, it was just a year ago when Walker had said:
Asked how voters might judge governors who bid for the presidency, Walker replied: “Governors should be defined not just by what they do and say, but who they surround themselves with, making sure to have the smartest person for a particular task or to head a specific agency. They should be judged on that basis and who they take advice from.”
Indeed, Walker should be judged by whom he surrounds himself with.