Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Walkergate: Of Confidence and Confidants

When Kelly Rindfleisch was sentenced last week, a cornucopia of information spilled out of the hearing, including a number of emails that showed collusion between Scott Walker's campaign and his Milwaukee County staff.

Stemming from these revelations (which were really revelations to only the people that haven't been following along here), Walker was feeling enough heat that he had a press conference to discuss this and try to weasel his way out of it. What a rip snorter that turned out to be!

Walker gave us his best impression of Nixon's "I'm not a crook" line when he again denied being John Doe:
Gov. Scott Walker said Monday that coordination between his gubernatorial campaign and his Milwaukee County executive's office in 2010 was fundamentally different than the caucus scandal that shook the state Capitol a decade ago.

And he said he remains "absolutely" confident that he is not the subject of a criminal investigation involving former aides in the Milwaukee office.
For someone who is supposedly "'absolutely' confident" that he isn't John Doe, he's sure betting against himself. Walker has already funneled a third of a million dollars into his legal cooperation fund - and that's just the money we know of. It's probably a lot more now, especially after today.

And aren't prisons full of innocent people, at least according to the inmates?

But I digress.

Walker had more funnies to tell, like this:
Walker was an Assembly representative from 1993 to 2002, the same year five top lawmakers from both parties were criminally charged with illegally running political campaigns out of their state offices where taxpayer-funded legislative staffers worked.

At a Capitol press conference Monday, Walker said that he wasn't involved in the caucus scandal and that it was "legally" different than the coordination between his campaign and county employees in 2010, which came to light last week during the sentencing hearing of a former Milwaukee County employee.
While it's true that Walker wasn't investigated during the original caucus scandal, he did surround himself with people who were involved in it, most notably Rindfleisch herself. Apparently, Walker wanted experienced people to run his own version of the caucus scandal.

But then Walker delivers the best line of the day:
Walker repeated Monday in the interview that he had no knowledge of anyone in his county office doing illegal campaign work, and if he had, he would have stopped it. He said nothing during Rindfleisch's sentencing made him think he was under investigation.
Well, that's a different tune that he was singing at the beginning of the year when he said:
“Had we been aware of anyone else who violated the…policy [against campaigning on taxpayers’ dime], we would have taken the same action [that we took against Darlene Wink and requested their resignation].”
Of course, both those lines are utterly false.

Walker never asked for Darlene Wink's resignation, she quit before he had the chance.

And, of course, there's other proof that Walker is lying, because as we all know, with all things Walker, there's more.  There's always more:

This email shows that not only did Walker know that illegal activities were happening, but exactly what kind of activities.  And not only did he know, he was directing it.  Why else would he use his campaign email and send it to Tim Russell, who was no longer even working in his office by this time.

It should be also noted that in Rindfleisch's sentencing, Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf gave us two more emails that Walker was involved in.

One was five days before the above email, and showed that not only were they happening long after their "routine" 8 am phone conference call, but showed his campaign to get other county staff to think politically instead of legally:

The other one was also much later than their "routine" call, but several months after Walker said he would have asked people to resign:

Further belying Walker's Eagle Scout image is the simple fact that he had hired Rindfleisch for his campaign even though he knew that she was being investigated and kept her on until he could get WISGOP and a Republican PR group to hire her.

But this is all old news to the gentle reader.

The real question that the reporters should have asked Walker, as it turns out, is whether he has confidence in his confidants.

As I pointed out last week, after Rindfleisch's sentencing, all eyes were turning to Tim Russell, the next one of the Walker Six that was going up for trial.

As I have been doing for months, I pointed out that it would be in Russell's best interest to take a plea bargain, if the DA's Office would allow it.  Russell, and his endless parade of defense attorneys, had been playing such games that the DA had pulled the offer of any plea deals.

But apparently, with a week to go until his trial, Russell gave the prosecutors enough to get the to change their minds.  Court records entered on Monday show that they have indeed reached a plea deal and will present before the Court on Thursday afternoon.

It makes sense that Russell would try for a plea deal.  Not only did the DA  have a pile of evidence to prove the embezzlement charges, but they could have charged him with so many other things, such as campaigning on taxpayers time.  On top of that, Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch were standing at the ready to testify against him.

There is no telling at this time what form the plea bargain will take, but there are a couple of things that would allow an educated guess.

One, as I have just mentioned, it that the DA's office had pulled any offer of a plea bargain due to Russell's antics.  For them to reconsider, and to think that the Court will accept it, it had to be fairly cooperative.

Secondly, we have an idea of what the prosecutors were looking for from Rindfleisch's case:
Steve Schultze of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Gimbel said that the DA's Office tried to get Rindfleisch to cooperate with their investigation, which she refused. Read this excerpt of the article carefully (emphasis mine):
A former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker resisted prosecutors' efforts to get her to implicate others in a longstanding John Doe investigation, the aide's attorney said Monday.

Prosecutors sought cooperation from Kelly Rindfleisch, who worked as Walker's deputy chief of staff in 2010 when Walker was still Milwaukee County executive, said Franklyn Gimbel, Rindfleisch's lawyer.

"They tried to get her to turn on somebody in authority, but she declined," Gimbel said in an interview. "They were looking for information on people up the food chain," Gimbel said.

He declined to name them.
Now, there weren't many people above Rindfleisch.
This was confirmed by the DA's Office at her sentencing:
Rindfleisch provided little useful information to prosecutors during sessions with prosecutors that might have led to lesser charges against her, Landgraf wrote in his sentencing memo to Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher.

"While that does not mean she was untruthful, it is my judgment that her loyalties rested, and continue to rest with those who have supported her since Nov. 1, 2010, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Friends of Scott Walker," Landgraf wrote. The friends group is Walker's campaign committee.
The point that stands out with this is that Russell knows just as much, if not more, than Rindfleisch and he was not receiving the support from Walker and WISGOP that Rindfleisch was.

It does cause one to stop and wonder if hell hath no fury like a confidant scorned.

Another thing to ponder while we await to see what comes of this plea bargain is that this will effectively wrap up the main part of the first round of Walkergate. The only things left will be the sentencing of Wink and now Russell and the trial for Russell's partner, Brian Pierick.

The timing of this is a good sign as well. Milwaukee County's fiscal year runs the same as the calendar year, from January 1 to December 31. That means that in a month, the DA's Office has its new budget and can then proceed with the next round. Who might be involved with that is up for speculation as well, but we already have quite a list of potential candidates, including Walker himself.

These are interesting times, indeed.


  1. Thanks Capper for explaining this so well to goofs such as I.............LOL

  2. I'll bet any takers a fish dinner at Serb Hall that our choir boy Governor will be singing "Jailhouse Rock" by the time Chisholm is done with this case.

  3. For a look at an alternate analysis, head over to l%keshore l%ments. Capper is even namechecked.

    1. I saw that. It cracked me up. It shows their desperation to avoid reality as long as possible.

    2. lol. Because with the evidence Landgraf has on Russell, Landgraf HAS to make a deal instead of take it to trial.

      Even if one assumes all the evidence in in the Russell and Pierick criminal informations, that's probably enough to convict Russell. Which part of not his money is hard to explain?

    3. If Landgraf "had to make a deal" it is self apparent that Russell would not make a deal. If this is the kind of thinking that leads one to support Walker we finally have the reason his cabinet members are by and large idiots. Deficient reasoning is part of the Republican genome.

    4. 4:47 Bullseye. Thank you.

    5. 1:27AM

      Where's the alternate analysis?

      It's an assertion, unsupported by any facts or argument.

      If Lakeshore Laments wants to help Gov. Walker, I suggest s/he will stop using "concerete," as a modifier.

      ".....Walker-haters hop­ing that they could finally pin some­thing con­crete on the gov­er­nor....."

      This John Doe (as opposed to the others we know exist, but don't have specific information about their investigations) is focused among other things on 15-year-old Jared Kellner's death by "concrete." Immediately following his death, emails from Walker's campaign manager, Keith Gilkes, to Kelly Rindfleisch provide very specific instructions that order her to destroy government property. That's a crime. The appearance from the O'Donnell Parking Garage is that as county executive, Scott Walker "paved," his way to Madison by canceling structural engineering inspections of County buildings, which would have caught this before it happened.

      4:47AM, Bullseye.

      As with Rindfleisch, the "plea," makes it much, much tougher to appeal their conviction. Wisconsin's prisons are filled with non-violent offenders who took plea deal on drug busts. The last thing the wingnuts on the state Supreme Court want to do is create a precedent which helps all those folks to appeal their plea deals. Non-wingnut candidates could use such a decision against them.

    6. Lets get real about Kevin Binversie, he is paid to advance republican propaganda, facts, logic or real life be dammed.

      So a 15 year old boy died, its unfortunate but it can not be allowed to affect republican hold on this state so the right wing echo chamber will do everything they can to make sure it doesnt!

  4. Sykes/Grebe/BradleyFDN/WIGOP has zero in rebuttal. In response to the announcement of Russell's plea deal, Charlie decides it's time to attack Lori Compass.

  5. Again, why no national media on this one? They were all over the Blago deal in Illinois. This would be a slam dunk for all the lazy ass journalists who like their news written for them. I guess since there is overwhelming evidence that proves walker knew exactly what was going on, they don't want to do a story on it. And yet, the right wing crazies are constantly telling us about the liberal media.

    1. They aren't covering it, that is for sure. I assumed it was because it was a "John Doe", thus a secret investigation. The only information that we know about comes from these court records that are open records, email open records requests, but people have to know what to ask for, and from the court proceedings that are open.

    2. Look, the reason for the media disinterest is obvious.

      Blago: a Democrat governor selling the muslim's old senate seat to the highest bidder. Illinois is corrupt as shit and BILL AYRES!!!

      Walker: He insists he's not a target, so where's the story?

      Above is snark- but pretty close to the truth.

  6. I agree with WhatIsCommonSense. Where is the media- local AND national? It's like everything that has happened and is happening in Wisconsin since the 2010 elections is "hands off". Utterly disgusting. Our entire state is being run like the House of Representatives in D.C.- a bunch of radical, right-wing evangelical nut bags, $upported by their puppet ma$ter$, have a strangle hold on democracy. And speaking of stranglers... the name David Prosser comes to mind. Hmmmm wasn't he involved in the caucus scandal along with Kathy Nickolaus? Walker is such a liar. Hope he is sweating bullets.

  7. Maybe we will get some answers on Thursday. Maybe something with cutting edge technology and not just powerpoint. Why did the media seem so surprised that Landgraff could use powerpoint? Was that unusual in court or something? Powerpoint has been around for awhile.

  8. Capper et al,

    Something occurred to me while I was mulling over what Russell's attorney and the DA said a couple of weeks ago. Please follow along:

    "Defense lawyer Parker Mathers said he was still holding out hope he might discover evidence that would clear Russell in a batch of emails he hasn't fully reviewed...if [he] finds some strong evidence from the emails to show Russell didn't commit the offenses, he'd reconsider [the plea deal]..."

    There are two types of emails that would clear Russell, yet there seems to only be one kind that would encourage a plea deal.

    Type 1) Email showing that Russell was indeed using the funds as a salary for his work and that the majority of the funds were being used as intended. Russell could even have the candidates he stole from come in and say, "Yes, the money wasn't stolen, we were paying him...". (We'll call this The Kavanaugh defense)

    Type 2) Email showing that Russell was acting as an agent for somebody else who was overseeing him. (The Nuremberg defense)

    So, if you can show that you're innocent due to no law being broken (Type 1), why cop a plea deal? If it is cut and dry (with email documentation), either you'll be found innocent or the judge will dismiss the charges.

    However, if it is Type 2, you are admitting a law was broken, but you were just following direction and didn't know better. That is the type of evidence that would encourage one to cop a plea deal AND prove that you're "innocent".

    I can't help but think (hope?) that they "found" the emails showing that Russell was just hanging with Herman Cain at the direction of somebody else and that the money wasn't stolen, but rather he was using it as he was told.

    1. Also something interesting to note, Walker said this just after news of the plea deal was broke, "...It's [the JD] gone on for two years. Hopefully, after this week, it will be over..."

      What happens at the end of this week? Well, we know it won't be Kavanaugh's sentencing, we know it won't be Wink's sentencing, and we know it won't be Pierick's trial. So what is Walker talking about? One can only infer that it must be Russell's plea deal.

      Why would Walker guess that Russell's plea deal will end the John Doe? Either he believes that Russell is the lynchpin/end-game or he HOPES Russell is the lynchpin/end-game.

      If I'm Russell, it is now clear that, if Walker hasn't already bought my silence, he's planning on using me as the scapegoat for all thing John Doe.

  9. Have to admit I have an uneasy feeling; didn't Reindfleisch cop a plea right before her trial was to start?..and all she got was 6 months and gave nobody up...this feels the same....if it does end here, how is Gilkes not charged for ordering Reindfleisch to destroy documents??...hope I am wrong..

    1. Gilkes can order anybody to do anything, it's only illegal if it actually gets done. Granted, he was her boss (on the campaign side), but the order came through when she was on the county side. If the DA can't prove actual destruction of property, they're DIW. The better question is, as the DA said, why hasn't Brett Davis been charged?

      I do share your fear, though.

  10. Anonymous 2:04 AM says: "Wait. What? I don't get it."

  11. Walker can hope all he wants, but it ain't over until Chisholm says it's over. Walker is probably trying to allay the fears of his followers as he hits them up for campaign donations.

    And as I've said, it doesn't really matter what happens with Rindfleisch or Russell. They're just appertifs for what is to come.

    1. You think the evidence Russell's attorney was looking for was the type that has Walker saying, "Yeah, go hook up with Cain, use the veteran's money..."?

    2. LOL! No. But remember there is much more to Walkergate than the embezzlement and the campaigning on county time.

    3. Yeah. The "Talking Tour" is nothing more than a fundraising blitz through the state. ACE Marine is Marinette Marine, with CEO Chuck Goddard, a campaign donor. I'll be Walker hits up all these business owners on his little jaunt around the State.

  12. If Walker is crapping in his pants at the thought of Tim Russell giving up information in exchange for a plea deal, could a fearful Walker administration start funneling $$$$$ to Russell behind the scenes to keep him quiet. And, if they do, can the DA subpoena Russell bank records to find that out.
    Also, is seems as if, with Rindfleisch et. al. refusing to FULLY cooperate, the DA may be saving up "obstruction of justice" charges that could still be used against ANY Walker aide or associate AND Walker. Thoughts.

    1. It's too late for Walker and Russell. Russell goes down any which way.

      Obstruction would have happened during the investigation where they are compelled to answer. She must've walked that tightrope.

    2. It is probable that Langraf and the prosecution felt they did not have to have Rindfleish's cooperation. Had it been obvious that she was no longer "on board" with parties the prosecution was after, then she would have been asked some interesting questions.

      That would have at least partially revealed both the prosecution theories of the crimes and what evidence they had. Which apparently did not happen.