Walker Betrayal of Trust revealed – truth needs to be framed, then repeated…again and again

Unless you were living under a rock, or completely ignoring all local and national news outlets (not to mention Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc.), the release of court documents by Federal Appellate Court Judge Frank Easterbook  today shed much needed light on the conduct of Scott Walker, his campaign, and conservative allied groups leading up to the launch of the John Doe. Read Exhibit C of the released documents – which provide valuable insight into the campaign coordination that went on at a national level (read the links for in depth coverage). Perhaps the most revealing email exchange is from Scott Walker to Karl Rove on May 4, 2011:

Bottom-line: R.I. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in
Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like running 9
Congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin
Cities.)

This case before the 7th Circuit is the real deal. Judge Frank Easterbrook is no political hack, unlike Judge Rudolph Randa. Easterbrook is a University of Chicago graduate (JD) and senior lecturer, appointed by Ronald Reagan. Of Easterbrook, Dean of the U of C law school says:

Easterbrook is an important influence on legal education through his judicial opinions. Course after law school course has changed for the better as Judge Easterbrook’s opinions have made their way into the curriculum. So long as he decides cases, and decides them in a way that cuts to the heart of an issue with such skill and pressure, no area of law can be dull.

According to Wikipedia, another of Easterbrook’s colleagues calls him “the world’s greatest living jurist.”

The facts are clear – Walker coordinated with allied conservative groups at a national level during the recall election, and was answering to national conservative powerhouse Karl Rove. As we all know, the facts are not enough and are easily ignored. So how do we frame them effectively…so that even moderate conservatives will understand the significance of these activities?

For the sake of argument, let’s say that Walker et al walked the fine line just this side of the law. Why? Because conservative dominance of the courts means that decisions after Citizens United will err on the side of “money = speech.” What is more important are the moral implications of his (and the organizations’) actions. What is really important is the fact that Walker betrayed the trust of everyone who voted for him.

In the conservative moral frame (see previous posts and “Resources” page for detail), the worst thing the strict father can do is betray the trust of the family. The family metaphor applies to the state, and what Walker has done is (metaphorically) cheated on his Wisconsin family with powerful ideologues like Karl Rove. Worse, he is answering NOT to his Wisconsin constituents, but to Karl Rove – someone much more powerful and wealthy than the typical Wisconsinite. Walker has betrayed the trust of the people. 

This frame cascades to every issue in this campaign – who has reaped the benefits of the current administration’s economic policies (and who has been harmed)…who has benefited from his education policies (and who has been harmed)…the give away of our state’s natural beauty to powerful and wealthy profiteers…the list goes on and on.

In greater detail, the public (government) and those who serve the public have a moral obligation to protect and empower those they serve, to the best of their ability. In the progressive moral frame, that means acting on our empathy to be responsible for others as ourselves, and expanding freedom and opportunity for as many people as possible without impinging on the freedom of others (responsibility for others – and again, the mere pursuit of wealth through greed is not a freedom). Even in the conservative frame, there is the idea of accountability to the tenets of being faithful to one’s family – metaphorically, the state.

The way to make these truths about Walker exposed in the John Doe resonate with both progressives and conservatives – say WHY it matters:

Walker betrayed the trust of  Wisconsinites who elected him with people more powerful and rich than they are…

Then say how.

Then say it again.

And again.

And again.

By doing so, you can cognitively change the way people think about this (and every other) issue, and it will have an impact far beyond any single election.

John Doe Investigation and a Rice Lake Harley Dealer…all roads lead to Scott Walker

On the day Timothy Russell pleads guilty to embezzlement as a result of the Milwaukee County John Doe Investigation, another John Doe related story flew under the radar. Christopher Brekken owns a Harley Davidson dealership in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and he is now suing Assistant Milwaukee County DA Bruce Landgraf. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report:

Brekken has sued Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, seeking damages for false imprisonment and abuse of process related to a 2010 subpoena for records about some credit card purchases from Rice Lake Harley-Davidson.

The suit, filed in Barron County Circuit Court in September, claims that Brekken could not produce or obtain the very specific information that had been subpoenaed, and that he told Landgraf he could not.

But a bench warrant was issued for Brekken’s in October 2010 that required him to travel to Milwaukee in November 2010 to again affirm under oath that he couldn’t find out the full credit card number used by a specific person on a specific date at Rice Lake Harley.

What does this have to do with the John Doe and Scott Walker? Recall May, 2010.

Scott Walker as Milwaukee County Executive heads out on his annual “County Executive’s Tour.” Even in 2010, there were criticisms and questions about the tour really being a campaign jaunt on the Milwaukee County dime. This from Graeme Zielinski on May 15, 2010:

So we’re in Greenfield and surrounded by Milwaukee County staff — all of whom are on county time. There’s a county park a few blocks away where they could be mowing the lawn, but instead they’re here to fuss about Scott Walker’s taxpayer-funded campaign junket. Walker, before the horde leaves, makes holy sounds about how this ISN’T a campaign event and how this is about promoting Milwaukee County tourism. If that were true, of course, he’d be headed down to Chicago, the biggest pile of cash in the Midwest. Instead, he’s going to all the media markets that will be involved in his race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, as well as stops in Rockford and Dubuque.

Meanwhile, a county department head is traveling with Walker, who also is shilling for AirTran, the airline with which Walker is negotiating a lease deal. Walker is wearing an AirTran hat and singing the praises of the airline. Who knew the job of the Milwaukee County executive was as corporate pitchman?

The “county department head” travelling with Walker was Timothy Russell. But wait, there’s more.

Badger Democracy has obtained two videos of Scott Walker on his Rice Lake tour stop – at the Rice Lake Harley Davidson.

The first video shows Walker interacting with supporters. At about one minute in, former Assembly Rep. Dave Zien appears, followed by then Assembly Rep. Mike Huebsch, and Assembly Rep. Sheila Harsdorf. A member of the press is seen trying to interview Mike Huebsch, and is told to talk to “Scott” Walker. Tourism – not so much.

The second video continues Walker’s interaction with his supporters. Throughout the second video, Walker is discussing potential gubernatorial scenarios with supporters. He makes half-hearted efforts (nudge nudge, wink wink) at saying “I can only talk about tourism.” At 3:15, one supporter actually tells Walker, “…next time your up here we can talk about legislative initiatives and local governments.” Watch at 3:30 in as Walker supporter Doreen McDonald gives Walker a gift. Try buying your Legislator a cup of coffee sometime and see what they say.  That’s a big no.

At 4:38, former Assembly Rep. Dave Zien begins discussing the “big mining project.” Zien states that Jim Doyle “never did a thing about” a proposed Gogebic Taconite mine expansion. Sounds more like Walker is campaigning for Governor than enjoying a tourism trip.

At the end of the video, Walker can be heard saying, “…see you on Friday,” meaning at the State Republican Convention. Walker’s 2010 stop in Rice Lake had nothing to do with tourism. It had everything to do with mobilizing his supporters. This mobilization was done on the Milwaukee County taxpayer dime.

The Barron County case filing has redacted the name, date, amount of purchase, and partial credit card number.

Scott Walker knows the rules. His hope for the John Doe to end tomorrow is complete denial. Prior to today, no one would have connected Walker’s 2010 County Executive tour with the John Doe proceedings. In 2010, there were already red flags about Walker’s campaign and County office being in violation of state law.

Look like the chickens are coming home to roost.

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Scott Walker’s “I am not a crook” moment

This morning, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Scott Walker insisted that he was not a target of the ongoing John Doe investigation. Walker went further in saying that if he had knowledge of wrongdoing in his office, he would have put a stop to it.

Gov. Scott Walker tells The Associated Press that he remains “absolutely” confident that he is not a subject of a criminal investigation involving former aides in his Milwaukee County office.

Walker says he had no knowledge of county workers doing campaign work while on the clock for their county job. He says if he had known what Rindfleisch was doing, he would have taken action to stop it.

Less than twelve hours after Walker made that statement, news broke about former top Walker aide Timothy Russell, scheduled to go on trial December 3rd.

A plea agreement has been reached in the felony embezzlement case against Timothy D. Russell, a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker.

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf said Monday a hearing on the plea deal is set for Thursday but declined to discuss terms of the deal. Russell’s lawyer, Parker Mathers, didn’t immediately return a phone call late Monday.

Russell, 49, was charged in January with embezzling more than $20,000 from a veterans group through a nonprofit organization that Walker assigned him to lead. He’s accused of siphoning money raised for Operation Freedom, an annual veterans fair and picnic at the zoo hosted by Walker during his time as Milwaukee County executive.

Russell served as deputy chief of staff and housing director at the county during the period he’s accused of plundering the veterans money. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Thursday will be an interesting day. Of more immediate concern is Walker’s claim on the record that he is a complete innocent. The record will show, eventually, that today was Scott Walker’s “I am not a crook” moment (shades of Nixon). There are several emails that make it abundantly clear that only one of two possibilities is true. Either Scott Walker lied today, or he is an incompetent fool duped by his campaign staff whom he had no control over. You decide…to the exhibits.

Power Point Slide #42

Email from Walker Campaign Manager (Friends of Scott Walker) Keith Gilkes (kgilkes@scottwalker.org) to candidate Scott Walker (skw@scottwalker.org). Copied to County Exec Walker’s staff including Kelly Rindfleisch, now guilty of campaigning on County time, in this case 11am on a Friday. The email is coordinating an official statement from County Executive Walker regarding the County tax levy, prepared for political expediency by his campaign. This goes beyond schedule coordination, and directly involved Walker.

Power Point Slide #44

Email from Rindfleisch on County time (1:30pm  on a Wednesday), from her “secret” Gmail account to bypass County email systems, to Scott Walker and Campaign Manager Gilkes (among others). More direct coordination of messaging and strategy for a WTMJ radio spot, even recommending “SKW might want to do a letter…asking for an appeal.” Noteworthy is that Walker and his state Capitol staff have continued message coordination and control with conservative talk radio pundits, as previously reported.

Power Point Slide #45

Perhaps one of the most damning email chains of all. This email chain is initiated by Scott Walker from his campaign email (skw@scottwalker.org) to combined County/Campaign staff including Rindfleisch and Gilkes. While we are unable to view the full first email, Walker is unhappy with how corporate counsel is handling media inquiries. The end result is Campaign Manager Gilkes telling Rindfleisch that the Walker campaign would “…like him to stop being a lawyer and think political.” Understand, this is a political campaign telling the County government how its corporate counsel should respond to public record inquiries from media, through Scott Walker, candidate. Again, on County time.

Power Point Slide #70

Extremely revealing email. Sent from campaign manager Gilkes to candidate Walker, Rindfleisch, and other County staff.  Sent on Friday afternoon May 14, 2010 when Walker would know Rindfleisch would be on County time. The subject is Darlene Wink, who had just left her County job under fire days earlier. This email is coordinating damage control and spin between the County Executive and Walker Campaign. The exact text (emphasis added):

Scott – we would like to discuss this further. We got a briefing from Kelly (Rindfleisch).

There are a few key thoughts on this that our (sic) critical to a response and diffusing this report.

Make no mistake, this is the start of a cover-up, with Scott Walker fully in the loop. Each of these email slides shows not only knowledge, but full participation in this activity. It is little wonder Kelly Rindfleisch’s attorney Frank Gimbel was beside himself, wondering how his client is the only one currently facing jail time in this scandal. As the emails on display were several of thousands, it is highly likely things are going to get very heated for Scott Walker.  This scandal will end up being of unprecedented scope in Wisconsin politics. A scandal that makes the Caucus Scandal look like a childish kerfuffle…

It comes down to this, and we must consider not only the emails referenced in the Rindfleisch sentencing, but the full record of Scott Walker.

He is one or the other…Walker is either lying; or he is an incompetent fool, completely ignorant and immune while his minions run roughshod over the law and the office just steps away from him.

Which is it?

 

 

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Is this the beginning…of the end for Scott Walker?

Multiple media outlets are reporting that former Walker Deputy Chief of Staff Kelly Rindfleisch has reached a tentative plea agreement with prosecutors in the Milwaukee County John Doe Investigation.

The plea hearing has been scheduled at 1:30pm in Milwaukee County Circuit Court this Thursday, five days before Scott Walker was scheduled to appear as a witness for the defense.

Facing four felony campaign fraud counts, the 43 year-old Rindfleisch is very likely ready to cut a deal to save herself possible jail time. One of the only avenues she has to a plea deal is to implicate a superior, who would have been instructing her and have full knowledge of her activities. As Deputy Chief of Staff, there are very few people who fall into that category – one being Scott Walker.

One other former Walker aide has already reached a plea agreement – Darlene Wink. That makes two former high level aides to Walker making a deal…and probably talking to save themselves.

Stay tuned as the investigation continues to get closer and closer…

 


			

Milwaukee DA – Checkmate to Scott Walker in John Doe

Breaking – Scott Walker has been served a subpoena through his attorney Michael Steinle. Walker has been called by Rindfleisch’s defense to testify. It has been reported that Rindfleisch has been cooperating with prosecutors. Walker was originally called as a prosecution witness, but was released and then called by the defense.Walker is being called to testify in the misconduct trial against one of his former Milwaukee County aides, Kelly Rindfleisch.

Walker is scheduled to testify on Tuesday, October 16.

 

County personnel records have shown that Walker was personally responsible for hiring Rindfleisch when he was Milwaukee County Executive. Rindfleisch stands accused of conducting  campaign activities while serving as Deputy Chief of Staff to Scott Walker, just steps down the hall through a secret computer server system.

The investigation has recently expanded to encompass current Walker Administration communications at the State Capitol, including former Walker Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes.

Milwaukee County DA John Chisolm and his investigators have placed Walker in checkmate. Walker must either testify under oath and perjure himself by denying any knowledge of the overt illegal campaign activities, or plead his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. It would appear the sources quietly hinting that Walker is the likely John Doe target are accurate.

Those predicting an indictment by the end of the year may be closer than they thought. Stay tuned…

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The Milwaukee County John Doe investigation …headed to Madison?

Note – Updated to include a comment from the Walker Administration at the end of the article.

In an interview with WTDY’s Dylan Brogan this morning, “No Quarter” reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Dan Bice reported hearing rumor (unconfirmed) that the John Doe Investigation is moving some of its focus to Madison – and state government.

The most obvious connection to Walker staffers in Milwaukee County and current Walker staff in Madison is obvious – the possibility that campaigning is being conducted on the taxpayer dime. Recent emails from high level Walker staff regarding the mining bill drafting process may confirm that this type of activity is occurring, and thus confirm Bice’s “unconfirmed rumors.”

An email from then – Walker Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes pgs 11-12 of the document) on January 30, 2011 from his Champion Group email to his new government email account references campaign fundraising to a lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite.

The email is follow-up on contact information for Marc Holtzman, a well-known GOP and conservative supporter and politician from Colorado, as well as Larry Wolk. Wolk is head of “Correctional Healthcare Companies,” heavily involved in nationwide privatization of state correctional facilities’ healthcare systems.

The email from Wolk to  lobbyist Rogowski, then forwarded to Gilkes, refers to “Scott and Keith” (Walker and Gilkes, respectively), and states:

“Hopefully he will be interested in helping and/or contributing to Scott’s campaign…let me know if you hear anything more from Milwaukee County and anything else we can do to help.”

On September 30, 2011 Gilkes resigned as Walker Chief of Staff and took a “lead job” with Friends of Scott Walker.

The John Doe is far from over – it certainly appears likely that the investigation has indeed moved into state government and the Walker administration.

Update : Late Wednesday afternoon Badger Democracy received a phone call from Governor Walker’s office in response to request for comment on this information. A Walker spokesperson stated, “Governor Walker is not able to comment as to ongoing investigations.”

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John Doe Investigation closing in on Walker aides, administration in alleged “pay-for-play” deals

On the day a new Marquette University Law School poll, conducted by Charles Franklin, shows an inexplicable rise in Scott Walker’s “favorable” rating in the face of an unprecedented sixth straight month of job losses; the John Doe Investigation being conducted in Milwaukee County appears to be getting closer to the Walker (as County Executive) Administration – this in a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Journal Sentinel reports sources close to the investigation as disclosing a “pay-for-play” scheme to award lucrative County Office contracts to private real estate companies. The article links the contract award process with Walker supporters, donors, and inside work by the Walker Administration on the deals in both 2005 and 2010.

As this investigation rolls on, with additional arrests being made within the week according to the Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice; Real Estate broker Andrew Jensen (and close Walker ally) is again compelled to give testimony today or face further contempt charges and jail time. It is difficult to imagine Walker having no knowledge of these dealings, based on one of the emails from a Walker supporter and one of the real estate parties involved specifically references then County Executive Walker. From the article:

In the email, obtained by the Journal Sentinel, Gregory Reiman alerted commercial real estate broker Scott Revolinski of RFP Commercial that the county was discussing moving workers from the county-owned City Campus to the Reuss Federal Plaza, which already housed the Aging Department.

“I told Scott Walker that I would mention this opportunity to you and see if RFP might be interested in this building. If you are interested I will put you in touch with Scott’s Chief of Staff, Tom Nardelli.”

As this investigation closes in on Scott Walker and his closest staffers/allies, one wonders which action will remove Scott Walker from office – recall or indictment.

The polling results are surprising, and Badger Democracy is working with an independent statistician to evaluate the methodology to discover any bias – as the reversal in Walker’s polling numbers is questionable based on the current economic and political climate.

The grassroots must continue to drive this movement. Regardless of the outcome of this investigation, we must communicate the details of malfeasance, fraud, and lies perpetrated by Scott Walker to the people of Wisconsin…as the recall election represents the will of the people and must be won to right the wrongs done by Scott Walker.