Monday, November 19, 2012

Walkergate: The Slap On The Wrist That Was Heard Around The World

Today was the sentencing date for Kelly Rindfleisch, who was convicted of illegally politicking while working for then County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker.

And she did indeed get sentenced, but there was so much more.

But first the sentencing.

Despite Rindfleisch crying her crocodile tear and trying to pretend to be sorry for doing the things that she already knew was wrong from her involvement in the caucus scandals, Judge David Hansher saw her for who she was:

Rindfleisch, who now lives in Columbus, Wis., apologized to "the people of Milwaukee County" for her crime.
"I want to assure them and assure you that Milwaukee County was always my first priority while I was employed as deputy chief of staff for the county executive," Rindfleisch said. Her wheelchair-bound mother and about a dozen relatives watched her sentencing. Some gasped when Hansher handed down the jail term.

The judge said while Rindfleisch had no criminal record, she had "a history of undesirable behavior," including involvement in the state Capitol caucus scandal. She was given immunity from prosecution for helping prosecutors in that investigation of campaign work done with state employees while on the job.

"I certainly question the amount of her remorse or regret," Hansher said. Jail time was necessary to act as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to mix campaign work with government-paid jobs, he said.
Despite his criticism, Judge Hansher showed an amazing amount of leniency.

While he could have given her three and a half years in prison and made her pay steep fines, he only sentenced her to six months in prison and three years of extended supervision. He also allowed her work release privileges and for her to sentence to be served in Columbia County, where she lives.

I would call it a slap on the wrist, but it was more of a wave above her wrist due to the fact that Judge Hansher stayed the sentence pending her guaranteed appeal.

When I first heard this on the radio this evening, I was appalled. I could see her appealing and having the conviction and sentence upheld. Then she would appeal it to the Supreme Court, and well, you know how corrupt that Court is.

But when I saw the excellent reporting by Marie Rohde for and by Steve Schultz and Dan Bice for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I quickly forgot my anger and frustration.

As he made his case for the sentencing, Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf opened the door to a treasure trove of information, confirming things that I've been reporting for years:
In a lengthy presentation during Rindfleisch's sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf displayed numerous emails between Rindfleisch and key members of Walker's campaign staff in which they discussed how to manage county government in 2010, while Walker was a candidate for governor.

Repeatedly, Landgraf argued that Rindfleisch knowingly broke the law by doing campaign work at the courthouse. In a new development, the prosecutor made clear - without saying it was illegal - that top Walker campaign officials influenced, even directed, county strategy.

"You guys are in the driver's seat," Rindfleisch wrote in one message to Keith Gilkes, Walker's former campaign chief of staff.

At another point, Rindfleisch said in an email regarding an effort by the campaign to plant stories about problems at the state Mendota Mental Health Institute: "This needs to be done covertly so it's not tied to Scott or the campaign in any way."

Landgraf said "The Campaign Group" included Walker, Gilkes, campaign spokeswoman Jill Bader and campaign adviser R.J. Johnson. It also included several top county aides to Walker: Cindy Archer, who was county administration director; county chief of staff Tom Nardelli; spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin; housing director Timothy Russell; and Rindfleisch.

Rindfleisch served as Walker's policy adviser and later his deputy chief of staff at the county.

Five members of the group spoke by phone daily at 8 a.m. to make sure the county executive's office was "in sync" with the "image" the campaign was advancing of Walker in his Republican race for governor against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, according to an email Landgraf presented in court as part of a PowerPoint presentation beamed to a large flat-panel TV.

"There was close contact with the campaign" and Walker's county staff, Landgraf said.

The five members on the daily calls were Gilkes and Bader from the campaign and Rindfleisch, Nardelli and McLaughlin from the county executive staff.

The Campaign Group vetted press releases that were released from Walker's county office, Landgraf said. They included messages about a federal disaster declaration the county was seeking after torrential rains in July 2010; news reports in the Journal Sentinel in August that year about patient sexual assaults at the county Mental Health Complex; and the acknowledgment by Darlene Wink, a county office assistant, of sending campaign related emails criticizing Barrett from Walker's courthouse office.
It is thoroughly and utterly disgusting that Walker and his crew were more concerned about his image than the fact that vulnerable women at the mental health complex were being sexually assaulted, a problem that Walker could have prevented years before they were finally being publicly reported.

Equally egregious is the fact that when a part of O'Donnell Park fell on and killed a child and injured two others, Walker's first concern was not about the victims, but how it might effect his campaign. Instead of going to the victims' side, he ran to the courthouse to find and hide documents that showed that he had neglected maintenance on the building for years.

Indeed, there is this:
Gilkes, in an email written the day of the accident, advised Walker's county staff to "make sure there is not a piece of paper anywhere that details any problem at all." News organizations and lawyers representing victims and others filed numerous open record requests after the O'Donnell Park accident for inspection reports and other documents on its construction.
In what I am sure is pure coincidence, shortly after Walker left the county, it was found that scads of files and a number of computers came up missing. Officials recovered the computers in raids on the Walker Campaign Group's homes. And I'll bet you my bottom dollar that many of those files were found in the Mystery Dumpster O'Fun.

But even the level of depravity of Walker and his crew is neither new nor the biggest part of this story.

Nor is it the fact that Walker would be implicated and intertwined in the illegal politicking. After all, how many times have I told you that with all things Walker, there is always more, and pointed out the one email that we already know of showing that he was not only aware of the campaigning, but was directing it.

The biggest part of this story is that Walker apparently was not running his campaign out of his county office. Instead, his campaign was running his county office.

Now, given that we also know that Walker is gearing up for a presidential run, who do you think is running his office at the Capitol?


  1. Corrupticans and plutocrat losers. Stoolies of the Koch's, and all the rich widows, (the widow Hendricks, the widow Tonette, and any other rich widow looking for a weasel boy toy to carry the water.

  2. Public Invited to "Walk with Walker" Tuesday in Stevens Point First Lady Tonette Walker will hold her 17th "Walk with Walker" event Tuesday in Stevens Point.

    The event is free and open to the public. The walk will take place at 10 am on November 20 at Green Circle State Trail in Stevens Point.


    Scott, I have Bruce on line one. He wants to schedule a "Perp Walk With Walker". He says he's already sent you invites via your fundraising dropboxes and the secret email accounts. He also says there are some questions about some pictures and videos they found during some of the searches.

  3. It would be so great to see some national media pressure on this entire ordeal. Especially the part about the death of the 15 year old and the cover up that ensued.

    1. Yes. Of all the disgusting and immoral things done by this mafia type government, that stands out.