Thursday, October 11, 2012

Walkergate: Plea Deal Or Plea Bargain?

Tuesday, we learned that Kelly Rindfleisch had struck a plea deal with the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office regarding her role in Walkergate.

On Wednesday, more information came out about the deal and made it seem to be more of a plea bargain, emphasis on the word bargain.

In sum, Rindfleisch is to plead guilty to one count of  Misconduct in Office (Class I Felony), while the other three charges are dropped. And that's only the beginning. Other things she's getting include:
  • She won't be charged for any crimes in Columbia County
  • The DA will only recommend jail time.
  • Even if she get's jail time, she could get work release.
  • She has the right to appeal, which her attorney has indicated he would do.
  • She won't have to sit in prison until the appeal is heard.
  • She wont have to pay any fines.
Like I said, it's a real bargain for her, or at least appears to be that way.

This, as one might imagine, set the left into a mass tizzy. There was outrage on how long this has taken and that there is "nothing" to show for it.  I'll admit I was a bit upset until I had a chance to thoroughly read and reread the letter and do some thinking on it.

On the right side of the cheddarsphere, they were gloating and doing as they have after every charge and every conviction, saying that it only went to vindicate Scott Walker.

For example, look at what the newest water boy for MacIver, James "I'm a Professional" Wigderson, had to say on the matter:
Kelly Rindfleisch is supposed to plead guilty tomorrow to one felony count of campaigning on county time. Missing from the article is that she was doing the work for Brett Davis’ campaign for Lieutenant Governor, not Governor Scott Walker’s campaign. Instead, they imply her activity had something to do with his campaign.
The letter does not include any provisions that would require her to testify against others in the ongoing John Doe probe into allegations that campaign work was done out of Walker’s office while he was Milwaukee County executive and running for governor.
Of course, there will be a liberal feeding frenzy until she actually pleads guilty because they are going to completely ignore, “The letter does not include any provisions that would require her to testify against others in the ongoing John Doe probe…”

It looks like another dead end for Wisconsin leftists hoping to get rid of the governor before the end of his term.
I can't tell if Wigderson is purposely trying to mislead his readers or if he is really that much in denial.

As for the line about her not being required to testify, well, that much is true. But Wigderson does not inform his readers of the whole story. The party he has omitted his that fact that she's already gave them what they needed, as pointed out by Rindfleisch's attorney, Frank Gimbel (emphasis mine):
The proposed settlement of the case does not include any requirement that Rindfleisch cooperate with prosecutors on other cases, which often is required by prosecutors in such deals.

Landgraf declined to comment on the plea agreement when contacted Wednesday.

Gimbel said Rindfleisch had already been "thoroughly debriefed" by prosecutors. Rindfleisch's future cooperation wasn't a major issue in the plea deal, he said. Gimbel noted the lack of such a requirement wasn't unusual.
Wigderson also things he scores points when he highlights that the charges was due to her campaigning only for Davis, as if this somehow exempts Walker from the same issue.

Well, there are a couple of things he would need to address to be considered a legitimate reporter and not a two-bit propagandist.

One, the actual criminal complaint and subsequent release of transcripts reveal that she was doing work on both campaigns. Just as Tim Russell has yet to be charged with all the crimes he could be charged with, doesn't mean that they wont' so it later. Heck, for Rindfleisch, they could almost submit the same complaint and get her for doing Walker's campaign work.

Wigderson would also have to explain why he changed his mind from what he wrote earlier in the year:
It’s the charges against the other Walker aide that present the bigger problem.

Kelly Rindfleisch is accused of fundraising from her Milwaukee County office for Brett Davis, a candidate for lieutenant governor. According to the criminal complaint against Rindfleisch, she was hired by Russell as a policy analyst for Walker.

In a text message exchange with another Walker confidant, Rindfleisch said that half her work was being done for the Walker campaign for governor.

Secondly, Wigderson would also have to explain the ethics dilemma Walker had and still has due to all of this, which Wigderson himself pointed out:
Then there’s the ethics question. Walker has the same information we all do about Rindfleisch’s fundraising activities on Davis’ behalf. What possible reason could Walker have for keeping Davis and Werwie?
If Walker was as innocent as Wigderson is trying to portray him now, he would need to honestly answer his own question.

Thirdly, in order to buy into Wigderson's spin of things, one would have to ignore the fact that she was doing said campaign work in Walker's county executive's suite on county time and with county equipment. But more significantly, Walker knew all about the illegal campaigning and only ordered it to stop, using his campaign email, in an email to Tim Russell, even though he wasn't in Walker's office anymore. Yet it was Rindfleisch that responded to the email by taking out the secret router.

There is more on this plea bargain, but I will hold off on that until after Thursday's hearing to elaborate.

The one thing that everyone, regardless of which side they are on - Walker's or justice's - needs to remember is that Rindfleisch is still relatively small potatoes. She was pretty much at the bottom of the food chain. Her case, as well as Russell's and Darlene Wink's, are only to set the base for the larger investigations.

There is still the issue of the pay for play and bid rigging that went on regarding where a county department was housed.

And there are many more people that have been and are being investigated. The DA's Office merely wants to take care of Wink, Rindfliesch and Russell before taking it to the next level.

It took the prosecutors in Illinois four years to get Blago. We need to be a little more patient and let District Attorney John Chisholm and his staff do their jobs.

I'd rather have them take their time and get the job done correctly than speed through things and allowing the weasels to walk.


  1. re: the idea that K.R. already gave (potentially damaging) testimony and won't need to testify in the future, and may have helped to slow-cook the Walker Goose -
    It says she was "thoroughly debriefed".
    Let's remember that this is Milwaukee we're talking about. When you get "de-briefed" in Milwaukee you're on a public street with your pants down around your ankles and a cop is getting personal with his gloved finger. Wiggy may be right, time will tell what they actually mean by "debriefed" over there.

  2. I don't know, but to me this deal serves the purpose of having to publicly go through with a trial. Scott Walker was supposed to testify about what happened, but now that this deal was reached, no trial and no Scott Walker testimony.
    This protects Walker--no damaging info coming out in public from his mouth.
    Rindfleisch also doesn't have to go through with a public trial, and no testimony will be coming out from her.

    1. You forget Tim Russell. Walker is listed as a witness in that case and Russell knows more than Rindfleisch. You also forget that Rindfleisch is small potatoes. There are bigger and better to come.

  3. I think the most likely thing here is that KR, being the loyal republican operative that she is didn't want to testify against Walker (or Davis or whoever John Doe is) but when things came to actual trial with the possibility of prison the bravado and chest thumping gave way to panic and despair.

  4. While the deal doesn't require further cooperation on her part, that is, sentencing is not being withheld pending cooperation, it's important to recognize that she is not immunized from future testimony in the John Doe investigation or in any upcoming trials.
    In other words the Prosecution got what it wanted up-front.

    Everyone should remember that Tim Russell is now being represented by a Public Defender. The primary role of these functionaries in the justice system is to cut deals for their clients. How many times have you heard of a Public Defender taking a complicated criminal case to trial and winning an acquital? It doesn't happen because they don't have the resources.

    I expect the Russell domino to fall sooner rather than later, considering that this very generous deal was given to Rindfleish AFTER her full cooperation. Hint. Hint.

    Republicans may have been spared the embarrassment of Governor Jail Bait Pleading the Fifth in court just before an election but there will be much more fun to come next year. I suggest that they stock up on Maalox.

  5. Yet we are disappointed because this snail's pace progress is frustrating. I usually agree that speed kills but a slow death is almost as difficult. We hope for an all out attack soon. Well of course KR was only working for Davis. LOLZ

  6. John Doe investigations are secret. Rindfleisch could have given a sworn statement that Walker ordered her to do all these things, and we wouldn't know.

  7. Things to consider:

    1. The first deal required she implicate others in the John Doe investigation.

    2. The Defense described the deal as "a lot of a la cartes".

    3. The Defense also said "It's a complicated, long story...We've agreed conceptually."

    4. Although the DA first listed Walker as a witness, it was the Defense that subpenaed him (not part of the deal, but a precursor).

    5. Darlene Wink wasn't on the witness list (again, not part of the deal, but you'd think Wink's presence would have encouraged such a deal)

    Now, reading the plea deal does not indicate there are any a la cartes, nor does it appear to be anywhere near complicated, long, or worth arguing over (after all, she was facing four felonies, 14 years and potentially >100k restitution/fines). You'd think that she would jump at that. So, what's it mean and how is it a deal for the DA?

    1) With the Waukesha case mentioned in Wink's deal thrown out, maybe the DA sees Rindfleisch as the end of the road and figures a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. Maybe the other cases just didn't pan out. We may be able to get a hint if Wink's sentencing gets pushed back again or if Rindfleisch's sentencing is sometime late in 2013. Although, with Rindfleisch and Russell having the same judge, he may want to wait until Russell's trial is over before punishing Rindfleisch...

    2) Could there be an off-the-record deal with Rindfleisch? Maybe Walker wasn't paying her way after all and the Defense really did want him on the stand to blame her misdeeds on him. Perhaps they knew it was going to go down and they were planning to take him with them - one way or another.

    3) Is this all part of Walker's grand defense plan? Did he give the OK to get subpenaed just so he could litigate it and draw things out and take more time off the clock, but instead got Rindfleisch to plea in order to keep the dirty laundry in the hamper? Does he plan to pardon her and are they still partners in crime?

    4) Is the DA just trying to wrap things up quickly, get his convictions, and get done with it so the Feds can take over?

    There is evidence indicating any of these four option are correct (or none of them). As it stands, I've got no clue. I've read every blog post, charge, and plea deal (plus the Rindfleisch logs). I've read the statutes and the case bios.

    Furthermore, what role do Russell and Wink play in this now? We know they wanted Russell to cop a deal, but he turned it down and that Wink was supposed to testify prior to sentencing. We also know they could charge Russell with child enticement and campaigning on public time, but they haven't. We also know that there are potentially two outstanding cases (destruction of digital evidence and the dumpster o' fun). What of those? These developments only raise more questions.

    Finally, the most interesting thing from her deal:

    The state will not deny her request to stay the potential imposition of jail time because Rindfleisch has, "...demonstrated arguably meritorious claims in a pre-trial context...". WTF does that mean?

    So, this gentle reader would like to know what "arguably meritorious claims" ol' kelly was making. Is she a secret nun? Does she tutor handicapped kids? Was she willing to throw Walker under a bus full of nuns and handicapped kids? Furthermore, "arguably meritorious"? Really? Really? "I bathe old people...but their old serial killers..". I mean, really? WTF?

  8. Landgraf "said, however, that she may be called as a witness in the criminal trial of another former Walker aide, Timothy Russell. Russell, who also worked for Walker at the county, is accused of embezzling more than $20,000 from veterans. Russell's trial is set for Dec. 3."

  9. "...demonstrated arguably meritorious claims in a pre-trial context...".

    The defense made any number to motions for dismissal of evidence in the pre-trial phase that were denied by the Judge, but were at least based on statute or legal precedent and therefore can be argued at the next level. The prosecution has lots of work going forward on other cases and did not want to fart around trying to negotiate a non-appeal agreement when they are confident of being upheld anyway.

    The have the testimony they wanted, so why be vindictive and why not treat the defense attorneys with courtesy? See, everyone walks away a winner.

    That's my take.

  10. KR's sentencing date is set for 19NOV2012. Wink's is 21NOV2012. Russell's trial is 03DEC2012.

    I hate to say it, but it appears we may be at the end of the beginning.

    The full schedule is as follows:

    Kelly Rindfleisch:
    11-19-2012 Sentencing Hearing

    Darlene Wink:
    11-21-2012 Sentencing Hearing

    Tim Russell:
    10-22-2012 Final pre-trial
    11-02-2012 Motion hearing
    12-03-2012 Jury trial

    Brian Pierick:
    01-24-2013 Jury Status Hearing
    01-29-2013 Jury Trial

    Kevin Kavanaugh:
    10-16-2012 End of trial

    So, two things:

    1) Perhaps the DA is waiting to see what Russell will do in his next two hearings prior to delaying Wink's and Rindfleish's sentencing.

    2) Perhaps just the fact that KR is now a felon and admirted to doing felonious work for SKW, likely at his direction, is evidence enough to charge him or others...

    4) Maybe Russell is waiting to see how things turn out for Kavanaugh. After all, they are being charged with more/less the same stuff (except that Russell is facing more time and more counts).

    3) Or, maybe, this is how things wind down. Doesn't make any sense as there is still the digital evidence destruction, the dumpster o' fun, and the bid rigging. Not to mention, if Wink never testified, why did the DA keep drawing her sentencing out? Where's the payoff?

    1. Man, I should have proof read that, apparently I can't count or add. All that school for nuthin'.

  11. Bit of an update from MJS. The DA was asked about Russell's upcoming trial and said:

    "... lawyers might reach some agreement making Walker's appearance unnecessary....

    Kind of makes you wonder what kind of agreement that would be.

    You know, here's another thought: Perhaps the DA only put Walker on the witness list as kind of a shot across the bow, hoping that she'd give him up and cop a plea. Instead, the defense called the DA's bluff and subpenaed Walker themselves, with the goal of pinning the whole thing on Walker and getting Rindfleisch off scott free. Now, that may not make sense, but think about it: if Walker testifies and the defense throws him under the bus, the DA loses a conviction and potentially squanders their future case against Walker (as he could appeal that his case would have been unfairly tainted). The DA realizes that he may have now just put two cases in jeopardy and decided to cut KR a sweet in order to keep his future SKW case clean of outside factors.

    Then again, it could just be that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. A felon is a felon.

  12. Nice catch: "... lawyers might reach some agreement making Walker's appearance unnecessary...."

    It says "appearance," not testimony. Maybe they depose him in Madison? Would it be on camera, as with Clinton?

    1. I predict trouble with the word is again.

      What with the alleged proclivities of Pierick and Russell, who can know whether or not oral sex questions are on the menu again.

  13. There is something that y'all missed about KR's plea deal today. And yes, I will be writing about it.