The following is a small but significant example of the complexity and the depth of Walker's machinations and corruption.
Before I start, I need to remind the gentle reader of a blogsite that existed back then, ScottforGov.com*, which I had mentioned in the Introduction to Walkergate. It was long suspected that members of Scott Walker's county staff and/or campaign staff were behind this blog. I have heard from people with knowledge of the Walkergate probe that county staff were indeed involved with this pseudo-campaign webpage. Incidentally, I have also learned that Rose Ann Dieck, the ranking member of the Milwaukee County Republicans who was granted immunity in Walkergate, is supposed to be a bit of a computer expert.
I was also told if you want to learn more about her, you'd better do it fast because the Republicans are systematically trying to scrub her name from their documents.
ScottforGov.com was often vitriolic and only wrote paeans to Scott Walker and viciously tore into anyone who would stand in his way, like Mark Neumann, Tom Barrett, and I, your humble host and writer. (I felt quite honored that Team Walker would consider me such a threat that they had to repeatedly attack me and try to discredit me. It also told me that I was on the right track.) Or in other words, ScottforGov.com was saying all the the things the Walker campaign wanted to say, but didn't want tied to them.
Now, on to the story.
Two years ago, there was a Tea Party rally which was held at a Milwaukee County public park. Fellow blogger and good friend, Brew City Brawler went to said rally and took some photos of the event. One photo in particular caught my attention:
As you can see, this is a banner that was banner outside the rally, proudly pronouncing that the rally was being sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. (It is already common knowledge that Americans for Prosperity, and the whole Tea Party movement is funded by the Koch Brothers.)
But what caught my eye is that on the far left side, in the center, is the logo for the Milwaukee County Parks. That made me very curious. Did Scott Walker authorize that? Was he saying that Milwaukee County was supporting the Tea Party? If so, that would be highly improper and a clear abuse of his powers.
So, as the Chair of Milwaukee County First, a group that was created to stand up for the people of Milwaukee County as opposed to the special interests (yes, Walker was doing the same stuff back then too), I sent an email to the county executive's office asking for an explanation of what the parks logo was doing on the banner.
The people behind ScottforGov.com saw my post and sent an Open Records Request about my inquiry.
Even before I could see the reply from Walker's office, they had their reply and had posted a piece on it. Because the people behind ScottforGov.com wiped out their blog shortly after Darlene Wink got caught blogging on county time and on county equipment, I cannot provide a working link to their post. However, due to the miracle of modern technology, namely Google Reader and screencaps, I have been able to recapture the post in following two pictures:
Wow! They really showed me what for, didn't they? But more on that in a moment.
Right now, I need to point out to the reader something peculiar about how they got the information. As I mentioned above, they did an Open Records Request, but they didn't use a name, per se, but only identified themselves by their blog title. Then Walker's office gave them their requested information rapidly and for free. That's not usually how they worked, especially if you weren't one of the faithful.
Cory Liebmann, intrepid blogger and skilled researcher, did his own ORR and found the information that I just shared with you. In fact, Liebmann has a good summary of some of the lines Walker has blurred, if not flat out crossed, in his campaigns and job as county executive. It really is a must read.
But now for the answer that I received from Fran McLaughlin, who was Walker's Director of Communications at the county, and who, according to sources familiar with the investigation, is embroiled in Watergate as much as any of Walker's other top aides, as well as the desperate hit piece from ScottforGov.com.
I did indeed post the answer the night I received it. But even as they gave me their answer, I found holes in their explanation. ;There was a person claiming that it was not Americans for Prosperity which sponsored the event, even though their name is on the banner, but another group calling itself the Grandsons of Liberty. (Don't you just love how all these right wing groups come up with such patriotic and completely ironic and improperly applied names?)
But I found that the person claiming responsibility for the Tea Party and Walker's spokeswoman were completely contradicting each other on at least two points:
One: Walker’s office said that the banner was not required. The rally organizer said it was.So who's telling the truth? Who knows? For all we know, even this contradiction was contrived to help muddy the waters even further.
Two: Walker’s office said that the County had no knowledge of them using the logo. The rally organizer said that County provided it.
To summarize this whole thing, we know that there was a Koch-funded Tea Party rally held at a Milwaukee County park, and that the park logo was on the banner proudly announcing the rally. It doesn't really matter which front group sponsored it. But the request for information from the official unofficial campaign blog for Scott Walker, which all information available points to Darlene Wink of being a contributor, was directed to Wink. Then when Walker's spokeswoman supplied her answer, it immediately appeared on the blogsite. And this once mystery group was able to get the requested information and pay the obscenely overcharges that Walker would charge an average citizen.
So to summarize the summary, Walker was already playing up to the Koch Brothers using County property. To keep this relationship and overreach of his powers from receiving too much attention, he and his politically appointed cronies would give incomplete and/or inaccurate information, often at overly inflated prices, to those who did not support him. But if it was an ally (or one of his own staff) the restrictions magically lifted and accurate information was presented promptly and at very low price, if not for free.
Are you starting to see the pattern yet?
The actual url of the site was interesting in itself: http://www.milwaukeecountyexecutivescottwalkerforgovernor.com/ It does make one think it was a campaign site, doesn't it?