When Kelly Rindfleisch was sentenced last month, we gained a greater glimpse of the extent that the corruption that was the rule of thumb for Scott Walker and his motley crew. I then expanded on that, giving the gentle reader a reminder of who's who in the Walker syndicate.
As I had just mentioned, some of it is already happening:
Keith Gilkes, Gov. Scott Walker's former chief of staff and campaign manager, told reporters Thursday after a forum at Marquette University that he is cooperating with prosecutors investigating Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County executive, WisPolitics reported Friday.
Gilkes did not return a phone message left on his cellphone Thursday.
Gilkes is the latest former top Walker aide to provide information in the ongoing John Doe investigation that has resulted in convictions for four former Walker associates for illegal campaign activity and embezzlement.
Also cooperating are Walker's current spokesman, Cullen Werwie, and past spokeswoman, Fran McLaughlin; and his former chief of staff in Milwaukee County, Tom Nardelli.
My guess is that it will be more of the latter type, based on this:
Gilkes told reporters that he "had no knowledge" of a private wireless router system that allegedly was part of a secret email system in the Milwaukee County Courthouse.Is it really absurd?
Asked if a similar router exists in the state Capitol, Gilkes became angry.
"That's just absurd, I'm done," he responded and walked away.
Remember that when Gilkes was Walker's Chief of Staff, he had lobbyists contacting him via his consultancy group's email address instead of through official channels. It would seem that there were trying to circumvent the open records laws in order to put the strong arm on people and companies wanting things from the Governor, such as Gogebic Taconite.
Gilkes also went on with the claim that the large amount of contact between the campaign and the county staff was just routine type of stuff.
For some reason, I don't see the advocacy of destruction of legal documents as being routine:
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.Then again, maybe destruction of documents is normal...for Republicans. I wonder how much they spend on paper shredders each year.
It should be noted that Gilkes was recently engaged, so that might give him some incentive to stay out of prison.
I recently wrote that Cindy Archer is also cooperating with the investigators, but to what extent is anyone's guess:
I have recently heard that Phase II of the Walkergate investigation has already commenced. Apparently Kelly Rindfleisch did give some information after all and gave up Cindy Archer.Interestingly, it's also been noted that Archer is selling her house, which she's owned for a long time. Speculation would be that she is selling it to pay her legal bills, but it should also be noted that she is reported to have a serious illness.
Archer had been Walker's Director of Administration during the time Walker was Milwaukee County Executive. Criminal complaints and other documents from Walkergate show that Archer was deeply involved with the illegal campaigning and the collusion between county personnel and campaign staff.
Word is that Archer is already working on a plea deal even though she hasn't been arrested yet, much less charged. It's a maneuver called a negotiated issuance.
There's a couple of other things that I have heard about Archer. Besides raiding her home in Dane County, the authorities also did a search of her Milwaukee County home. Neighbors have reported that just days before the raid, they saw Archer and other moving a lot of boxes out of her home to another house just down the block.
Could there be a mole in the county somewhere that was giving the heads up on the potential searches. But who would have knowledge of the impending searches and have the ability and the interest to get in contact with Archer?
Well, let's not forget that Fran McLaughlin, who was eventually granted immunity in Walkergate, became the spokeswoman for Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. She would have the the knowledge of the search warrants before they were executed, the ability to contact her friend Archer and an interest in keeping things on the hush, since she was also doing campaign-related activities on county time.
The other thing about Archer is that she had a major argument with the director of Milwaukee County's IT Department. He quit shortly thereafter and moved out of state. I have long wondered if that argument might have had to do with secret routers, secret email systems and open record requests.
But methinks that the person who could be the most interesting to watch is Tom Nardelli. Nardelli has long been known to be rather unsavory and untrustworthy. Nardelli has denied knowing anything about anyone, even denying he knew who hired Rindfleisch to be his Deputy Chief of Staff (we all know it was Walker). But the emails released during Rindfleisch's sentencing shows that he was in the thick of things as much as anyone else.
And Nardelli is no stranger to pay for play and strong arming tactics:
Nardelli had effectively neutered the Milwaukee Public School Board with his threat. The message was clear — do what I want or you’re screwed and I’ll make you look like idiots.Also of interest is the fact that Nardelli's house is or was up for sale.*
But there was something else. Why was Nardelli so adamant about this developer getting a slice of the city?
It turned out that the same family who had contacted me to work on their behalf had also contacted a reporter. I don’t recall the reporters name but he had uncovered that Nardelli had received fat campaign donations from the developer. Amazingly, it was swept under the table.
It's also been reported that Nardelli has been looking pretty rough. Stress will do that to a person.
But I think Nardelli might be the most interesting to watch since he has the most to lose. He's closing in on being 70 years old and any lengthy sentence could be a life term for him.
If Nardelli is convicted of a felony, he loses his pensions.
The loss of all that free income and health care, as well as the prospect of potentially facing the rest of his life in prison, is a pretty strong incentive for him to turn on whoever was above him in the food chain.
And the only person that is above Nardelli - and Archer, McLaughlin and Gilkes for that matter - is Scott Walker.
And let's not forget there are also many other unanswered questions and issues that need to be addressed.
There is the bid rigging and pay for play that was involved with county contracts for rental space.
Although if the DA's Office is following the trail of the illegal campaigning, the other stuff might be left to the feds for wire and mail fraud charges, or even RICO charges when one considers the apparent collusion between Walker's campaign, Walker's county office and the Koch/Bradley Foundation-funded groups like Americans for Prosperity and the other various propaganda groups.
Which leaves only two questions.
One is when - no if - Walker will meet John Doe.
That really depends on how cooperative Archer, Nardelli, Gilkes and the rest are. If they are able to reach plea deals with each of them, it could happen relatively quickly. If they try to fight it the charges out, like they did this year, that would obviously stretch things out, but would still be only delaying the inevitable.
And the other question which has been asked more and more often lately is whether this will also ensnare Reince Priebus, who was the chair of WISGOP during the time the scandal was occurring.
To be frankly honest. I have no idea. We do know that he was exchanging emails with Walker's county staff during the campaign. We also know that there were some events, such as Senator Scott Fitzgerald sharing his donor list with Walker, which would have been very difficult, if not impossible, without a high level of influence.
But no matter when it finally happens, or who else gets dragged down because of Walkergate, there is one thing that is undeniable. something that conservatives are starting to realize, which is making them exceptionally ornery.
That thing is that with Walkergate, there is always more. And no matter which arm of the investigation you follow, the path always leads to one person - Scott Walker.
*Perhaps so many people being dragged down in Walkergate accounts for the uptick in home sales this year.