Monday, April 23, 2012

Walkergate: What's In Whose Wallet?

Two months ago, I questioned how Tim Russell was paying for not just one, but two, high caliber attorneys, Michael Maistelman and Andrew Franklin.  I noted that at the time, Russell allowed his house to be foreclosed on, which was an indication to me that he was having some serious money troubles.  (Which is, unfortunately, something that most of Fitzwalkerstan can relate to after nearly sixteen months of Walker's malicious rule.)

Two weeks later, almost as if I had jinxed them, Russell lost one of his attorneys, Franklin.  Franklin was quickly replaced by Attorney John A. Birdsall.

However, Birdsall didn't last long either, and was gone within a month's time.  Again, per the article, I sensed there was some money concerns between Russell, Maistelman and Franklin..

Now, Russell is on his third criminal defense attorney, David Krueger.  I'm thinking things will go more smoothly, at least as far as representation goes, since Krueger works with Maistelman and is also a conservative.  This will make billing easier since there is only one firm to contend with and Russell should have a higher trust level with a fellow conservative.

So why do I bring all this up now?

Well, due to an open records request from, they just unsealed the transcripts from the hearing in which Attorney Franklin moved to withdraw from the case.  And once you go through the 55 pages (pdf) of transcript, and move past the hemming and the hawing, you realize that it was indeed, for the most part, a money issue.  That, and two law firms fighting over the same bone.

Russell was/is in arrears for thousands of dollars to Maistelman. When Franklin got a hefty retainer fee, Maistelman wanted part of it to help defray his costs.  And that's where the problems started to boil over.

There are, however, some very interesting points from the transcripts that need to be highlighted.

At the bottom of page 15, ADA Bruce Landgraf, the lead prosecutor for Russell's case, makes mention of a possible plea bargain.  Maybe John Doe will be voting in the recall after all.

The next really curious point comes on page 22 (emphasis mine):
ATTORNEY FRANKLIN: February 3rd, I received a $2,000 retainer from someone on behalf of my client.  The second that -- Now, the second I reported back to Attorney Maistelman that I received that, he e-mailed me saying that he wanted a thousand dollars out of it for prior work that had been done.  Something that we had never discussed. I-emailed him and said basically what the heck are you talking about.
Throughout the transcripts, it never says who that generous "someone" is.  I don't think it was Russell, since he was apparently having money problems already. It could be from an innocuous source, like a friend or family member trying to help Russell out.

 But then again, could it have been Walker?  Could it have been one of Walker's benefactors, like the Bradley Foundation, the Koch Brothers or one of the myriad of front groups?  After all, Walker did set up the legal cooperation fund that would cover not only his own hide, but also those of his agents.

Sadly, unless the unidentified benefactor comes forward, we will never know, but it should sure as hell be raising red alarms for anyone.  How far will Walker and his supporters go to cover up the crimes committed?  Was there anything else promised to Russell if he doesn't turn state's witness?

And now for the big news.

I have learned from a source familiar with Walkergate that Walker is offering assistance to Kelly Rindfleisch.

She is reportedly working for one of Walker's vendors, a communications/consultancy firm, although I have not determined the exact name.  I will let you know once I have it confirmed.

The word also is that Keith Gilkes, Walker's campaign manager, is helping her raise funds for her defense, which, like Russell's, must be reaching a considerable total by now.

Wouldn't it be something if it turns out that Walker is using his legal cooperation fund to help Rindfleisch?  He would be declaring her his agent, which would only confirm that she was campaigning on county time.  And yes, I do seriously believe that Walker and his team are dumb enough and arrogant enough to do this and not think twice about it.

Something tells me that Walker and his crew isn't doing this just to help a friend out in need.  I would say it would be rather safe to presume that Team Walker, both the over and the covert campaign teams, are scared to death.  However, in my layman's analysis and ten years of knowing Walker, they are mostly just postponing the inevitable.



    Thank you.

  2. It's been my opinion all along that Walker or Walker fronts have been paying for Kelly Rindfleisch's attorney. She certainly can't afford the big gun legal team. BUT, and I believe we all know this...but Kelly may be a bit too naive about it...the lawyers that are representing her...their first loyalty is to Scott Walker. If his team is somehow funneling money to pay her attorneys, Walker's group would think nothing of throwing little Kelly in jail for 14 years...just to save Walker's hide. If she truly had an unbiased legal team, they'd be clear in their analysis that Kelly is headed for jail unless and until she turns on Walker. And, remember, if she doesn't spill all she knows, there are many others who may do so, eliminating her value to the DA. My guess, in the end, is that she's drunk the kool-aid, doesn't understand that she's going to take the fall for Walker, and, will end up in prison for 14 years.

    1. Her neighbors would like to know how she afforded an expensive kitchen makeover?

    2. I think we keep forgetting about the unsaid promise to pardon all of those who don't sing. As long as their charges are state charges and they are confident that Walker will be around after their trials, they will stay silent.

      Now, if the feds started throwing out RICO charges, I'd say that the whole game would change. At that point, Walker and/or the WI-SC can't bail them out. Chisholm must know this. This whole train of thought would seem to encourage him to file his charges against Walker prior to the recall. If that happened, the Walker 5 would probably be more likely to turn.

      I think this is all explained in game theory....something about if none of them talk, they all win....unless the game is changed or unless all of those emails, wiretaps, destroyed files, and computer data are really as overwhelming as they appear in the complaints.

  3. Very interesting information!

    Someone must have appeared upset to some degree, there was a statement by the judge having to do with the deputy handcuffing someone. Later on the deputy appears on the record with the helpful tips such as "Stay calm."

  4. What's the trust fund referred to in the transcript? How does that work? One lawyer wanted half the other lawyer's $2,000 retainer, which is a small amount. One wonders what Russell's total legal bill.

    1. The total amount paid in (who paid in? who, if anyone, has signed guarantees?) to the trust fund may be much more than the $2000.00 amount which is explicitly mentioned. Read the transcript carefully.

      IANAL, but I have seen a number of references where criminal defense attorneys require a significant portion of the projected defense costs to be paid in advance. Possibly depending on the circumstances and the assets of the defendant and his family and associates among other things.

      So a purely speculative possibility might be that when a defense agreement is signed a small but significant amount accompanies the signing ($2000.00?) and the agreement probably would indicate when the balances would be due. Paid into a trust fund to be used only for the purposes specified.

  5. There should be a limit to Attorney/Client privileges in regard to financial payments for work rendered.

  6. Anonymous at 11:30PM: Bullseye.

  7. Things to note:

    1) Michael Maistelman specializes in land use, land development, and government relations. He has also represented Jim Doyle, Russ Feingold, and "many of the largest progressive causes in the state." (Maisterlman's website).

    2)The judge is trying to find out what the conflict of interest is (the money issue). Russel, the DA, and Russell's attorney's are in the judges chambers with the judge. Judge says he needs to know the conflict and that the DA can leave if he doesn't want to hear it (disclosure purposes). The defense says they don't want him to leave for publicity purposes (to have the DA all by himself with the whole defense and judge alone). The DA says that leaving may be better because he's "concerned that there may be differences between the counsel that directly involve [the DA], the State of Wisconsin, and possibly plea negotiations." (P15) What's interesting is, before the DA can say exactly what he's concerned about, the judge looks at everybody and they all say, "No", indicating that they are aware of what the DA is concerned about before he can disclose his true concern. Hmmm..

    3) Maisterlman says he's been "working on this for two years and I've been carrying Russell with some balances...". Two years? WTF? (P17)

    4) Maisterlman says, "When money comes in, I'd like to get paid out of some of that." Comes in from where? (p17) Is there a money mail man that drops off money to a special spot? Is Russell not writing his own checks? On P22, turns out the checks are coming in, but not to Russell, but to his now departed attorney Franklin.

    5) So, Maistelman has been working with Russell for two years and Russell owes him money. Franklin is brought on to assist with the criminal defense portion and is getting compensated not by Russell, but by "somebody". Maistelman see that money is coming in for Russell, but is bypassing him. Thus, he can't go to Russell to claim what is owed to him, thus he's bummed that the "somebody" sees Franklin (the now departed attorney) as more deserving of getting paid off first.

    5) So, the new guy, Franklin, was the one getting "substantial amounts" of money from somebody. This causes discontent with Russell's long time lawyer, Maistelman. This discontent leads Franklin to declare that there is a conflict of interest and to pull out of the case.

    6) Maistelman says, "Your honor, one of the problems is somebody told you there was a waivable conflict, which I don't think is accurate. I think it really is the attorney don't get along and there's a billing issue..." (P30). He's implying that Franklin used the legal term waivable to duck the real reason he wanted to withdraw...because the "waivable conflict of interest" doesn't look as silly as "money & personality conflict".

    7) Judge calls Maistelman and "election law expert". Hmmm (p31)

    8) Maistelman (long term attorney/election law) says to Franklin (criminal law attorney/ guy receiving money from "somebody"), "I sent the bills to Russell. You were stonewalling me. I was trying to put pressure on you because you stiffed me. I brought yo in on a big case and you stiffed me, okay?" (P37)Wow. Heat. Maistelman said he was going to sue Russell (his client) if he didn't get his money from Franklin. Odd.

    9)Hmmm..Franklin says this whole finance thing looks bad and he's going to look bad for being associated with it. Russell says that, "It doesn't have to [look bad], but if it's an unwaivable conflict that exists, that is could be realted to another case [Franklin] has...". Hmmm...who else is Franklin representing that also results in Franklin getting direct cash infusions from "somebody"? (p47/48)

    1. As to #9:

      A. Is what Russell says here offering a possible explanation for public distribution rather than discussing a factual situation concerning the conflict?

      B. What Franklin says here concerning the trust account deposit is interesting:

      "... I want it on the record, I cannot do anything other than return the trust account deposit to either Mr. Russell or to the person he directs me to who paid on his behalf. It is not going to any new attorney."

      1. Does Franklin know who has paid into the trust account on behalf of Russell? (Possibly not based on this transcript)

      2. Does Russell know who has paid into the trust fund on his behalf?

      3. Could the payment to Russell of these monies cause difficulties for either Russell or the donor unforseen at the time the monies were put into the trust account?

    2. WRT #3,

      There must be a reason why the money is going to the defense attorney and not Russell or his elections attorney. That conflict may be it.

      Also note how it is the defense attorneys that are rotating, not the elections attorney. He's been around for 2+ years and seems like he's staying put (even after the judge implored Russell to dump him). But it is the defense attorney(s) that are getting the money....odd. Who is working for who?

    3. It could be that the defense attorney is getting the $$, as the defense attorney is listed as the primary counsel (i.e. #1 chair)...mostly because the elections attorney has never tried a case (i.e. he's always going to be stuck in the #2 chair).

      But is it really common to directly fund an attorney instead of funding the defendant?

    4. Russell's money came from Momma Russell

  8. 10) Russell is talking about passing the discovery materials to the new lawyer, the one replacing Franklin. Russell says, "I've seen that, it's not like we're gonna be dealing with a a lot...". So, the criminal defense side of things doesn't have a lot of discoverable materials...does that mean anything?

    11) Apparently the judge and Franklin are fifth or sixth cousins through the judge's father and Franklin's grandmother. Huh. (P54). The judge goes on to say that he didn't appreciate Maistelman including that information into the records, "I think it was gratuitous, unnecessary, and didn't appreciate it". haha

    So, some good tidbits in there. Why on earth has Maistelman been working for Russell for two years? Why did Maistelman bring in Franklin if they don't like each other? How did Franklin become recipient of "somebody's" money? Why is Russell's #1 lawyer noted as a huge progressive?

    1. Russell first got busted in May 2010. His office got raided in August 2010. So two years isn't that surprising.

    2. It is also not surprising that Walker kept Russell on the county payroll until Holloway canned hiim.

  9. Also, what's up with the "other case Franklin has" that also could have the same un-waivable issue?

    And tell me more about the possible plea negotiations?

    1. Franklin and the judge are cousins.

    2. >>Franklin and the judge are cousins.<<

      The same could probably be said for you and some of the commenters here.

      Whether in the case of Franklin and Judge Hansher, the relationship rises to the level of an issue requiring action of some type, is a matter for others to decide. Obviously neither Franklin nor Judge Hansher has thought it an issue in the past.

      Does Maistelman have a point when he brought this up? Did Maistelman know the degree of kinship, and if so, did he think it an issue?

  10. While we're at it, and updated calendar:

    Kelly Rindfleisch:
    07-19-2012 Final Pre-trial
    10-15-2012 Jury trial*
    *Notes - this is just before the Nov elections. Impact? Maybe.

    Tim Russell:
    06-04-2012 Final Pre-trial
    06-18-2012 Jury Trial

    Kevin Kavanaugh:
    05-04-2012 Status conference

    Brian Pierick:
    06-15-2012 Arraignment

    Darlene Wink:
    05-15-2012 Sentencing

    So, before the recalls, there is a Wink sentencing and a Kavanaugh status conference. It seems the highest likelihood of something coming out will be the Thursday after Wink's sentencing.

  11. I don't think Walker has much to gain by issuing pardons to his felonious cronies as this wouldn't prevent them from being called as witnesses against him.

    His real value to them is as a Daddy Warbucks with a "legal cooperation fund" flush with money from ultra-rich fascists.

  12. Anon, cannot thank you enough for the riveting analysis.

  13. Mr. Capper et al,

    I've been following the ongoing John Doe case and was wondering if you may be interested in exploring what seem to be yet unresolved facets of the information made available thus far:

    1) Why Mr. Jensen's memo from his lawyer, indicating he was not the target of the investigation, was printed on Milwaukee DA Letterhead, with the entirety of the body in parenthesis?

    2) The importance (or lack-there-of) of the interview between Mr. Kujawa and the DA on p28 of the Russell complaint, where the DA indicates that Mr. Kujawa threatened to call Mr. Scott Walker due to Russell's mishandling of campaign funds, with Mr. Kujawa replying that yes, he had made that threat more than once, referring to Mr. Walker as Mr. Russell's boss, and then asking the DA where the conversation was going. The transcript is then cut at line 25, resuming at a different line 15.

    3) Clarification on whether Mr. Walker promoted Mr. Russell after Mr. Walker indicated he had been made aware of financial inconsistencies under the purview of Mr. Russell. With Mr. Russell getting his last Promotion in May of 2010, but having retained his lawyer in Feb of 2010, as it seems that any suspicions would have likely prevented such a promotion.

    4) Thoughts on the DA's comment that he is "concerned that there may be differences between the counsel that directly involve [the DA], the State of Wisconsin, and possibly plea negotiations," regarding Russell switching criminal defense attorney's. Is he more likely to have said this if a deal was in the works or if he if thought that a new attorney would be more likely to make a deal?

    5) Can you give a good defense of Mr. Walker? It would seem that there is enough plausible deniability to indicate he had no idea that he was hiring and promoting thieves, paying county staff to raise money for his and other candidates campaigns while using county resources, and or was using donations to veterans to directly fund his campaign?

    6) Thoughts on how common it is for County Executive staff to be involved in real estate value estimation, as it is my understanding that the Department of Public Works handles all of that.

    If anything, using this site to pose these questions may elicit responses from those more familiar with how things operate.

  14. 1) I don't know.
    2) That will come out in the trials I'm sure.
    3) Walker did know. I don't think Russell hired his attorney that early.
    4) I think a deal was/is in the works. I think the new attorney will help him see this gets done.
    5)Walker knew what was going on and I won't defend him.
    6)The Department of Economic Development has that information out of necessity.