Also in May of last year, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin followed Walker on his annual bike ride to promoteLittle did I realize at the time what a big deal that motorcycle ride was going to be after all.
his candidacyMilwaukee 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.
But since then, we've discussed the questionable way that the bike ride was funded by a private company that had just gotten a big deal from Milwaukee County a few weeks before. And don't forget the gaffe of "Say Republican!" And don't forget that Walker had moved the bike ride up by several weeks because the end of June was just "too hot" to ride a motorcycle - never mind that the ride conveniently ended as the Republican state convention was kicking off in Milwaukee.
Another thing that we had discussed much more recently is the turn that Walkergate was taking to make it closely resemble the caucus scandals from ten years ago. Sure enough, five days after I wrote that, Kelly Rindfleisch, who had been part of the original caucus scandals, was arrested for campaigning and fund raising on county time and from her county office.
Well, now there is a tie between these two aspects of the Walkergate investigation.
Ms. Rhodes Engels was part of the caucus scandal from a decade ago, at least according to the criminal complaint against Scott Jensen (scroll down to page 16):
[DCI Special Agent] Strauss reports that she has participated in interviews with Judith Rhodes Engels (“Engels"), who has stated in part the following. Engels was state-employed in the Ladwig Capitol office November 1996 - March 2001. Sherry Schultz was in charge of fundraising for individual Republican members of the Assembly, including completing their campaign finance reports and assisting in fundraisers. After the 1998 elections, Engels and Ladwig discussed the fact that Schultz was “creating a monster” in that legislators were becoming too dependent on Schultz and her campaign finance related services. Engels worked with Schultz on fundraising issues. Schultz did not appear to have any duties other than fundraising. Engel's job was to keep track of contributions from legislators to RACC, which are referred to as "assessments." Schultz's duties included keeping track of where this money went for the individual campaigns. On occasion Engels received checks for individual campaigns and provided them to Schultz. Schultz created various documents regarding fundraising at RACC meetings held in Jensen's Capitol office. In a RACC meeting after the 2000 election in Jensen’s Capitol office, Jensen thanked Schultz for all she did for members of the “team” in connection with the money that had been raised.Sometime after the caucus scandal, Rhodes Engels ended up working in the legislative office of Senator Scott "Snit Fit" Fitzgerald.
By 2007, she was working for WISGOP, but still helping out Fitzgerald and his brother:
Monday, December 10, 2007(If anyone could tell me what WASS stands for, that would be great.)
Senator Scott Fitzgerald and Representative Jeff Fitzgerald Christmas Reception
Erin’s Snug Irish Pub
4601 American Parkway
Host options: Shamrock host level: $250/ couple (includes lapel pin), Pot o’ Gold host level: $100/ couple. Sorry, no PAC or corporate contributions. Please make checks payable to: Scott Fitzgerald for Senate and/ or Jeff Fitzgerald for Assembly, PO Box 2741, Madison, WI 53701. For questions or to RSVP, please contact Judi Rhodes at (608) 345-3780 or email@example.com.
Two people not talking about any controversy are Judy Rhodes-Engels and her daughter. They are just two of the 140 riders joining Walker on his ride through much of Wisconsin, plus parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan.Well, isn't that just special?
Rhodes-Engels said she is a fan of the attention their group gets as they roll into town on their choppers.
"When you're in a big massive group like this," said Rhodes-Engles, "everyone looks at you everywhere you go."
Most of the participants in the Executive's Ride aren't concerning themselves with any political bickering. They said they're just happy to be along for the trip.
"It's a great experience to share everything about Milwaukee with the rest of the state and even some of the other states that may not have been there," said Rhodes-Engles.
As with all things Walker, there are a few special problems with this.
In 2010, Ms. Rhodes Engels was living in Cottage Grove, WI, which is in Dane County, some 70 miles to the west of Milwaukee. Another problem is that, when she was not donating $700 to Walker's campaign, she was still working for WISGOP:
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In sum, we have a WISGOP operative, who lives in Cottage Grove, WI and specializes in fund raising for Senator Scott Fitzgerald, going on the Harley Davidson tour and we're really supposed to believe that this was to promote tourism in Milwaukee County and had absolutely nothing to do with Walker's campaign? Really? Really?
I think it would be very interesting to know what Scott Fitzgerald has to say about this. Not to mention Reince Priebus, who was the head of WISGOP at the time.
I'm also wondering if Ms. Rhodes Engels had something more to do with the bike ride than just being a tag along.
I'm also wondering if Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm is aware of all of this.
And isn't this picture of Ms. Rhodes Engels just so symbolic of the Walker/Fitzgerald regime?