I pointed out how it appeared that Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff, Kelly Rindfleisch, was doing a lot of campaign work for then Assemblyman Brett Davis, who was Walker's and WISGOP's preferred choice for Lt. Governor.
Lo and behold, on Thursday morning, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm announced the arrest and charging of Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch.
In the complaint against Darlene Wink, who set off this whole investigation by leaving comments on JSOnline and other sites, we learn that not only was she leaving comments, but was actively fundraising and organizing campaign events from her county office on county time.
Most of the complaint is an itemization of the times that Wink was doing her political work, but there are some eye-catching names included in her emails. For example, there are references to squawk radio hosts James T. Harris and Vicki McKenna doing emcee duties for a fundraising event and having Charlie Sykes promote it on his show. I would love to see if there were email exchanges between Wink and the squawkers.
We do know that Wink did have email exchanges with Reince Priebus, then chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, to see if he could get Sarah Palin to help them with a fundraiser. Eventually, this fund raiser was scrapped due to lack of interest.
The most intriguing thing about Wink comes not from the complaint against her. Instead, we learn that Wink was given a plea deal. Instead of getting charged with felonies, which they could have easily convicted her for, they gave her the chance to make it two misdemeanors and probably won't even see jail time. In exchange, Wink will testify against her co-defendants on other illegal campaigning allegations and most notably, regarding the "destruction of digital evidence." In other words, we might have just learned what happened to all those missing computers and files that suddenly grew legs at the end of Walker's term and walked away. Of course, many of the computers and what not had already been detained by the DA's Office on November 1.
But when one is facing recall, they probably don't want their name associated with a massive cover up like that.
If you thought that the names in the Wink complaint were interesting, the ones found in the complaint against Kelly Rindfleisch is a regular Rogues Gallery. Among the 57 pages of detailed explanation of the misconduct she is accused of doing, names like Robin Vos, Mike Huebsch, and, of course, Brett Davis. Also listed are Walker staffers Darlene Wink, Tim Russell, Tom Nardelli and campaign staffers such as Cullen Werwie, Keith Gilkes, Stephan Thompson and my personal favorite, Jill Bader.
Interestingly, after all of this came out, Walker basically put the governor's office on lockdown, cancelling all of his events, including a trip to Wausau. Oddly, the weather for Wausau was in the mid-30's and sunny, with patchy fog. Nothing that would keep him from making a trip. Besides, I'd bet my bottom dollar he's traveled through worse weather to get to one of his out-of-state fundraisers.
Walker eventually came out with a statement, through his campaign, which was very terse:
“The Milwaukee County executive's office expressed policy was that county employees were not permitted to use county time or resources to conduct any political activity. Scott Walker expected everyone to follow the law and made that clear publicly and privately," Walker campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in the statement.Well, that takes care of that. I'm sure the Walker apologists will take this statement and the fact that Walker hasn't been indicted (yet) to show that he is a victim just like the rest of the people in Milwaukee County and in all of the state.
But as we all already know all too well, just because Walker said something, doesn't make it true. In fact, it's usually the opposite. And this is no exception.
In the Rindfleisch complaint, on page 50, we see this exchange that Walker sent regarding the damage control after Wink was caught and had resigned from her position in the county:
That clearly indicates that Walker knew exactly what his staff was doing and was ordering them to start covering their tracks. This was also about the time that Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan started doing his own open records requests into Walker's office.
It also contradicts his statement regarding his policy of doing politicking from his governmental office. But we already knew that when he got busted soliciting for political help from a person he had thought was David Koch
If the investigation were to end with this, they could probably indict Walker with the information they already have. But this is far from over.
Remember that commercial realtor Andrew Jensen was to report to the DA's Office just yesterday. And there are indications that they are looking at a pay-for-play scenario regarding the realtors, some of which are Walker's staff, both in the county and in his campaign.
And the complaints show that there was two way communications between Walker's executive office and his campaign. All of the campaign workers could be looking at possible charges as well.
And I am hearing things of yet another mess that might be coming down the pike besides the ones that are already known.
And there are a couple, three questions that I am pondering:
- How is Rebecca Kleefisch handling the realization that she's hooked up her minivan to a guy and a whole political party that didn't even want her as Lt,. Governor?
- Are any of Walker's big time out-of-state donors calling asking for their money back since every day makes Walker look more like a losing bet?
- Does anyone still believe that Walker turned in these people like he claimed after Tim Russell got arrested?
While this was definitely a bullseye and puts Walker in a very untenable position, there is no reason in the world to even think that John Doe isn't already aiming his next shot or that this one will miss its target either.
The next few days and weeks and months will definitely be interesting as Walkergate continues to unveil itself.