Friday, January 6, 2012

Walkergate: The Tim Russell Tangent

What a difference a day makes.

On Wednesday, the Shepherd Express published an article I had written to provide an overview of Walkergate.

On Thursday, Walkergate exploded with more news.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm announced the arrest and charging of three people stemming from the ongoing investigation.  These included Tim Russell, who was charged with two felony counts of embezzlement and one misdemeanor charge of embezzlement.  Also charged were Kevin Kavanaugh for one count of felony embezzlement and four counts of felony fraudulent writings and Brian Pierick for two very disturbing felony charges, one for child enticement and one for exposing genitals or pubic area.  (Warning: The complaint against Pierick is very graphic)  I will address the latter two in detail at a later date.

Tim Russell in happier times.
The most severe of the charges against Russell involve his stealing money from the charitable fund meant to help run Operation Freedom, an annual event meant to honor veterans by allowing them and their families free access to the zoo and food and beverages.  The other two charges involve Russell stealing from two candidates for Milwaukee County Supervisor.

The complaint goes on to give a list of things Russell used the purloined money for, including vacation trips to places like Hawaii and a trip to meet former presidential wannabe Herman Cain.

Oddly, Scott Walker used his campaign to comment on government business and to take credit for bringing the issue to the DA's attention, which Chisolm had stated in his press conference.  Perhaps he was advised that this would give him wiggle room when further news erupted, as opposed to an official statement as governor.

Squawk radio hosts and right wing bloggers came down with cases of acute selectivitis, in which they suffer severe symptoms of selective hearing, selective reading and selective comprehension to take a "there's nothing else to see here, move along" attitude.  The notable exception to this epidemic outbreak was James Wigderson, who admitted that the investigation is continuing.

Indeed, Chisolm clearly stated in his press conference that this was an ongoing investigation.

And there are many unanswered question and unexplained events that would support the notion that Walkergate is far from being over.  But before I delve into those, there are two things I feel should be noted.

One, this is not the first time it's been alleged that Russell has stolen.  In October 2010, Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan brought up the fact that Russell had been terminated from a position with WHEDA when he used a state-owned credit card for personal use.

Another thing to note, which also would indicate that there is more news to come, is a specific part of the complaint against Russell.  There is a section of the complaint that points out that Russell had used some of the money he had allegedly pilfered to buy a number of websites.  One set of sites was for his realty business.  The other sites were for apparent political use, including one that is very familiar to me:

The site, MilwaukeeCountyExecutiveScottWalkerforGovernor is the address used for the unofficial official Walker campaign site,, which I had pointed out in An Introduction to Watergate.  The fact that Russell owned this site further supports my speculation from May 2010 that it was indeed Walker's staffers who were blogging on there during work hours.  It would also go along way in explaining why this site had a much easier time getting records requests fulfilled than most people, as was exemplified by the time I had inquired about a Milwaukee Parks logo on a tea party banner.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of things that have not been addressed in today's news that would indicate that this is not the beginning of the end of Walkergate just yet.

Here are just a few of them:

  • This does not address what, if anything, they are going to be doing about Darlene Wink's self-admitted politicking on the taxpayers dime.
  • The involvement if Cullen Werwie, Walker's spokesman, in the investigation or why he was given immunity.
  • It was not explained why they want to speak with Andrew Jensen, the realty mogul, who is expected to meet with the DA's office on January 25.
  • It does not explain Nardelli's sudden departure from his state job or his need to lawyer up.
  • Nor do the events explain why Walker paid Steve Biskupic, former US Attorney, at least $60,000 to represent his campaign.
  • There was also no mention of the footage shot by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, showing Russell campaign during Walker's last Harley-Davidson ride around the state or the complaint they filed with the DA's Office as a result.
  • It does not resolve the mystery of how so many files and computers ended up missing from the Milwaukee County Courthouse as Walker left to become governor.
  • There is no mention of Cindy Archer or the things that they took from her home, including a computer hard drive.
In addition to the above points, the biggest question regarding them is how much did Walker know about any of this.  It's hard to believe he knew nothing, considering that many of these people were his top advisors and closest friends.

Yup, no matter how much Walker or his supporters might try to wish Walkergate away with the news from Thursday's arrests, John Doe is very much alive and kicking.  Time will tell how many more shoes will drop before it is all over or the full impact it will have on Walker's political career, including his pending recall.


  1. So in all that blabber there was just no room for you to write, "I was wrong."

    You are working twice as hard to go nowhere as ever before.

  2. Way to avoid the facts, Cindy! Keep up that delicate illusion! I know you can do it!

  3. I'm still not seeing the common thread of this, and while I have no love for Walker (I even disliked him before it was cool to do so) at this point I'm almost more curious about what's really going on here.

    Chisholm's office must either know, or at the very least, strongly suspect, that a very serious crime occurred with someone high up in Walker's campaign or administration while he was County Exec. Whether or not it is Walker personally....I'm just not sure.

    Nardelli seems like he has a target on his back, but it seems like the charges here could be to put pressure on the smaller fish to talk. I believe this to be even more true knowing that 1.)that's how Chisholm's office operates with large cases and 2.)the all you can eat buffet of immunity deals that seems to be on the menu these days.

    What I can't figure out is what this crime might be. There's just too many questions, and some very odd connections between the railroad, the realtors and the staffers. I know a ton about campaign fiance law, and I still can't see what links this all together in a way that would be worth all this effort.


  4. In my opinion, the most plausible connection between a railroad, realtors and Walker staffers would be kickbacks, pay-to-play or special favors.

    It would be normal when investigating a den of thieves that you would trip over other crimes, such as a pedophile with a child porn collection. Pedophiles trade their images with each other like baseball cards. I would expect much more to break in this part of the investigation as the Feds will almost certainly be involved. One possible result might be the unraveling of a pedophile network.

  5. I believe Walker's guilty and I don't like him. Therefore he's guilty of high crimes and should be jailed without benefit of a thorough investigation and trial.

  6. I, for the record, don't want Scott Walker convicted without a trial. If he is alleged to have committed crimes, let's have a big old trial. Charlie Sykes can sit in the front row.

  7. When growing up my parents told me i would be judged by the "company I kept" . That was great advise then and relevant now.

    I'm going with my parents. Scottie's "company" makes him suspect when considering his character.

  8. Especially when 'the company he keeps' uses "Walker04" as a username to access child porn.

  9. So if I hire someone who is later charged with a crime they are, "company I keep" even after I turn them in. Wow!

    Obama hangs with Corzyne and Holder therefore he's one corrupt individual, right?

  10. I wonder when the Jeff Stone shoe is going to drop.

  11. Convict on a tangent. Speculate on shoe dropping. Hope and pray (Well we don't do that around here unless faced with death). Speculate instead. Yea, that's the ticket.

  12. Oh goodie, more jobs.

  13. Scott Walker already profited from the biggest campaign finance violation in state history. His spokesman is under a grant of immunity, as is much of his administration. His longtime and closest political aide is involved in a scheme that can't be described in a family setting. The shoes are dropping like rain.

  14. @Chris,

    The pay for play and/or shakedown theories are the most prevalent among those that are familiar with the case.

  15. @Anonymous 4:01

    Walker turned him in and then gave him two raises and access to federal funding. Yeah, he has some answering to do for that.

  16. I was just reading over some of the old posts here, and laughed out loud when you described Walker and Russell as "special friends." I read that months ago and it went right over my head. Given the events of the past few days, what if we REALLY imaginative in where the investigation will go from here and what it will find. Oh the scenarios that could be fabricated but entirely supported by available facts.

  17. Anyone who has issues with "the company he keeps" should look up "vetting". It is/was Walker's full responsibility to fully vet anyone whose name he offered as a person to be placed into power within his administration. How many appointments were made by Walker because of political connection and cronyism without fully vetting them before offering their name? He should have known anything that would cause even the slightest suspicion of corruption if he was anxious to protect his good name. He went before the County Board and presented these people as men/women of sterling character fully qualified to run the department or hold the position to which he was appointing them. Not only were most not vetted but few were qualified and did an abysmal job in the position to which they were appointed. I was there when most of these people were appointed and remember the personal endorsements Walker made for Tim Russell by him. He should be known by the company he has kept and held accountable for giving them access to do what they did.