Friday, September 16, 2011

An Introduction To Walkergate

With the big news of the week, the FBI serving a search warrant of Cynthia Archer's house, there has been an increase in speculation regarding the ongoing John Doe investigation, which is quickly becoming known as Walkergate.  The investigation has to do with possible illegal campaigning and other misdeeds by Scott Walker's campaign and the actions of his staffers who served under him as county executive and now governor.

But it has come to my attention that there is a lot of misinformation and confusion, from both sides of the political aisle, regarding what is happening, what things could mean and even what is relevant.  Some of fellow lefties, in their zeal, are getting lost on irrelevant details and tangents.  Meanwhile, there are those on the right that are trying to minimize the ramifications and/or distract the people's attentions from what is happening.

To clarify things, I will present a history of events, and introduction to the players and the inclusion of some things that seem to have gotten lost in the coverage of the story.

It started in May 2010 when Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's coordinator of constituents services, Darlene Wink, was caught leaving comments on JSOnline during work hours and using county computers. Wink was posting under the handle of "RPMCVP" which stood for  her other position - Republican Party of Milwaukee Co-Vice-President.  Within hours of Dan Bice filing an open records request, Wink quit her job.  However, even I, one of Walker's most ardent critics, found the whole Wink affair to be rather innocuous.  Later it was learned that Wink had lawyered up pretty quickly.

Others were more suspicious.

Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan filed an open records request of his own to find out if any of Walker's other aides were also doing something similar.  Several months and thousands of dollars later, Walker gave Weishan an unsatisfactory few sheets of paper indicating that Walker and few other aides had gone to various sites like  Apparently, this information, besides costing more than it should have, was not accurate.

Because of Weishan's tenacity, some of Walker's allies, the misnamed group Citizens for Responsible Government, filed a criminal complaint in retaliation against yours truly, using, shall we say, very irresponsible "documentation" to support their allegations.

Also in May of last year, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin followed Walker on his annual bike ride to promote his candidacy Milwaukee County.  This bike ride has long been a source of contention, with many, including myself, who kept pointing out that it was a thinly veiled publicly-funded campaign exploit.  Sure enough, they got lots of evidence, including footage, of long-time aide, campaign worker and close friend, Tim Russell, doing non-county work, even though he was traveling as a county employee. In August 2010, the Sheriff's Office did a search of Russell's office, confiscating his computer, his Blackberry and boxes of papers.

Interestingly, at the same time interest in Wink and Russell were growing, there was a website called "," which was a strongly pro-Walker blog and was staffed with people who had obvious political connections.  There had been speculation that the writers were members of Walker's county staff, his campaign staff (or both, since Walker has a long history of blurring that line).

Around the time of Wink's outing, they stopped publishing new posts.  A week later, they killed their twitter account.  Before 2010 came to a close, they had removed all comments and then took the entire site down.

At the beginning of 2011, it was learned that everyone that could possibly be involved were lawyering up but good.  Walker's campaign hired Steve Biskupic and his favorite law firm, for a mere $60,000, to make sure all their i's were dotted and all their t's were crossed.  Other big names, including Frank Gimbel  and Paul Bucher, were being floated around.  (Gimbel was believed by some to be hired by Tom Nardelli.)

And speaking of Nardelli, long considered a possible subject of Walkergate, he had recently and abruptly left public service on a very flimsy excuse.

Hot on the heels of that news, Cynthia Archer announced that she was taking a personal leave from her job, to which she had no intentions of returning.

Which leads us back to how we got into this - the raid on Archer's home.  Now Archer has said that she's done nothing wrong and doesn't need legal representation. Deserving of skepticism and cynicism, it should be pointed out that Archer also said she had nothing to do with Walkergate just days before they did the search of her house, confiscating a lot of things, including computer hard drives.

There are some on the right, including radio squawker Jeff Wagner, who are trying to minimize the ramifications of the Archer incident by questioning if it is an appropriate use of resources for just some political comments left on the paper's website.

This is misleading in the sense that this is so much more than just Wink's misdeeds.  It's already led to one conviction, that of William Gardner, who was found to having made illegal donations to Walker's campaign.  It also involves the possible illegal campaigning by Russell and the rest of Walker's cronies.  There has also been rumors of many more people who might be persons of interest in this investigation, but I won't name them until I have more confirmation of their involvement.

I would also not be surprised if the fact that Walker and his gang left the county executive suite with most of the files and computers missing is tied into the investigation as well.

And on a final note, I must point out that while Walker has been backpedaling like crazy and denying any knowledge of anything (well, OK, that's plausible at least), one of his repeated phrases is that the investigators have not asked him any questions.  That is to be expected.  They are building the case up to him, if it indeed reaches that far.  But if it does, he is probably sitting in the governor's mansion, sweating bullets and drinking Maalox by the case, hoping none of his cronies turns stool pigeon.


  1. Terrific summary, thanks.

  2. Good, clean government is something that both sides should agree on. The level of misdirection and outright denial on this matter from the conservative bloggers is absolutely amazing. Let's reaffirm our commitment to hold our side accountable and NEVER condone sleazy, underhanded politics.

  3. Great summary Capper, and I agree with Jim that clean government is something we all - regardless of political affiliation - should want.

  4. I guess everyone is wondering... which current or former Walker employee is going to "talk" first.

  5. please send this to ed shultz asap!

  6. Yes, you have to carefully parse -- as the JS does not in repeating it -- Walker's denial of being contacted: That he has not been "personally" contacted about the investigation.

    Translated, that may only mean that he did not take a call himself, open the letters himself, etc., but left that to another staffer -- or to his lawyer.

    And yes, now we wait and see whether he, or his lawyer, will turn or perhaps already has turned on/turned in Archer, like Doyle's turn on Georgia Thompson. Of course, in that case, Thompson was innocent -- and perhaps so is Archer, so no wonder she is reported today as "shaken" by the raid. Any state worker in Madison knows that she could lose the house that made the news and all her savings in having to defend herself, as Thompson did.

    Madison corruption is deep, wide, and bipartisan. Doyle just was smart enough to go after and ruin only one state worker, instead of thousands as Walker has done.

  7. >>Milwaukeean--

    My recollection is that it was then US Attorney Biskupic who went after the state employee, who was later exonerated. Yes, the same Biskupic mentioned above.

    While Governor Doyle did little or nothing to defend her actions, the investigation came from the US Attorney office

  8. Yes, I recall that the Milwaukee DA was brought into the case when a case had been put together in the internal UW investigation, and that was all Doyle deflecting attention from and blame for Travelgate.

    Interesting that when she was exonerated, the investigation was not reopened, hmmm?

  9. Wow, so many words over the possible use of county employees' time and county money on a campaign which I agree is not only terrible but illegal. I do have to wonder if you spend the same amount of time writing about the President campaigning across the country using AF1 as his transport and federal aides, secretaries, press secretaries and even Cabinet secretaries time and thus taxpayer dollars to get reelected.

  10. Anonymous 8:15 --

    You only wish that it involved only some illegal politicking. This is turning out to be very big. Very big.

  11. Don't you think Archer's move was anticipatory on Walkers part? Distancing himself from her while keeping her on the payroll as hush money? Explains the massive increase in pay for her new position as compared to the pay for the person who preceded her in that same position.

  12. Why not do a freedom of I request for documents regarding her change in position?

  13. The move was, I believe, in relation to the scandal. Notice how the media kept referring to her as "former" top aide. They are buying into his spin on it already.

  14. Excellent summary. Walker learned all he needed to learn in college - how to run a crooked election - before "dropping out" (or getting the boot). So his "education" wasn't a complete waste for him after all. Let's just hope he's held fully accountable we he gets similarly expelled from the Governor's mansion.

  15. LOL. You bleeding heart guys make me laugh. This is nothing but a setup by the Obama administration to find some dirt on Walker.

    I know for a fact that Celia M. Jackson, personal secretary of former Governor Jim Doyle did work on his reelection campaign, despite being a state employee.

    Former attorney general Peg Lautenschlager used her state car (before she used it for drunk driving) to drive a political event in Racine for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

    Shelly Moore, the Democratic candidate in the 10th District Senate recall election, another lazy union goon hack, used her public school email address to coordinate election activities in her failed union goon backed recall election.

    So, when a Democrat uses government resources for elections, nobody cares, but when a Republican does it, oh christ, call the FBI.

    By the way, good luck recalling Walker next year. You union hacks won't get the signatures to even trigger the recall election. Besides, the national unions are pulling out. The AFL-CIO won't donate any money to cause, they have bigger fish to fry in Wisconsin (Kohl's 2012 seat), and state unions have had their balls cut off with the union dues being withheld (all you teachers are cheap anyway).

    Your side lost. Admit it.

  16. Really, didn't Walker spend all his years as Milwaukee County Executive campaigning on the taxpayers' dime?

  17. Walker is guilty as sin of many things, regardless of what his cronies would have you believe
    To the anonymous poster who said "Don't you think Archer's move was anticipatory on Walkers part? Distancing himself from her while keeping her on the payroll as hush money? Explains the massive increase in pay for her new position as compared to the pay for the person who preceded her in that same position." ...... I concur! That was the explanation I came up with as well.
    I just don't know how Walker can sleep at night!! ..... unless he doesn't care HOW many lives he ruins!

  18. Anonymous 10:26 -

    LOL! I was waiting for your side to get so desperate to try to put this on Obama.

    But for your arguments, two points:

    One, if your statement regarding Dems were true, why did two of them go to jail for the caucus scandal yet Scooter Jensen is still free?

    Two, Walker's record of running dirty campaigns goes all the way back to the 1980s when he was in college. Remember how he got kicked out for his election scandal then?

  19. This is a fabulous write up. I am waiting with breath that is bated, hoping this turns out to be The Thing That Ends Walker.

  20. Thanks, Angie! Don't know if it will end him, but it sure will cripple him.

  21. The FBI does not execute a search warrant on a home for an acusation of campaigning on state/county time. There is something bigger brewing here. I would speculate it may have something to do with her previous jobs overseeing contracts. Just a hunch that makes more sense.

  22. @John, overseeing *railroad* contracts, perhaps?

  23. Why does the FBI have cause to think there's evidence of a crime in Cynthia Archer's house?

  24. Always trying to change the subject and willing to try anything to distract us from the smarminess of the Walkerites. Since when has a president NOT used AF1 and taxpayer money to travel and campaign? Name one president who hasn't done it. They have all done it. That whole argument is just ridiculous.

  25. Might, could be, cojecture. Fact is we know nothing except of course for your deep rooted obsession and hatred of the Governor.

  26. Am wondering what the heck "Anonymous" said when the Walker recall petitions came in close to 1 million?!
    Too funny to imagine-
    And no wonder the poster hides his identity!

    While I realize the recall isn't over, yet; I also realize that 1 million signatures can't be wrong.

    Great post!