Saturday, January 19, 2013

Walkergate: The Beginning Of The End Of The Beginning

After more than a year, we are finally approaching the end of the first wave of Walkergate.

On Tuesday, January 22, Tim Russell, long time personal friend of and political operative for Scott Walker, will be facing his sentencing hearing.

Later on that same day is the final motion hearing for Brian Pierick, Russell domestic and business partner, who is facing charges for child enticement.  The jury trial is set to start two days later, on Thursday.

It's a little ironic, but rather poetic, that the fates of these two men continue to be tied together.

In advance of Russell's sentencing, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office has filed their sentencing memo.

It tells the tale of a deplorable little man who had an unquenchable greed. He had no morals and no qualms about stealing from anyone and everyone he could steal from, whether it was campaign finances or a veterans fund or the taxpayers.

In other words, Russell is the kind of man who would steal Christ from the cross and go back for the nails.

And instead of using this purloined money to pay off his ever growing bills, Russell would spend it on one of two things.  By far, the greatest majority, damn near all of the money he stole, went for luxury vacations and flights to meet Herman Cain and Mark Stone during Cain's failed presidential bid.  Russell used the rest of the money for Walker's campaign through both official and unofficial channels.

If you read the memo in hopes of a sign that Walker was the mastermind behind all of this, you will be sorely disappointed.  Not because he wasn't, but because this hearing is about Russell and his embezzling tens of thousands of dollars.  And because it serves their purpose, the corporate media isn't going to do anything more than a skimming of the paper.

But that's why I'm here.

There is in fact only a few key points that many people wouldn't know, much less catch.

Jake had already caught a couple of the points.

One is that Russell was working with WISGOP to do some work in a couple of races up north, namely Sean Duffy's and Reid Ribble's.

But of much more significance is this:
With Russell's corporation, Strategic Outsourcing and Research Center, Inc. (Source), Russell actively engaged in opposition research. Source was a non-stock company formed by Tim Russell in October 2009. Keith Gilkes, the campaign manager for the Friends of Scott Walker, was a client. Source was used to hire and pay Brian Pierick and two legislative aides, Cameron Sholty and Dean Cady, for opposition research benefitting the friends of Scott Walker.
That paragraphs is sure a loaded one.

As Jake pointed out on his blog, the most glaring thing is that even as Russell was working for Walker's campaign through his county office, he was also being paid directly by the campaign to opposition research.

The paragraph that Jake cites also notes that the opposition research was focused on Walker's primary opponent, Mark Neumann. Namely the research was trained on Neumann's "real estate holdings and taxes paid in connection with real estate transactions."

What's not noted anywhere is that it was shortly after Walker's campaign hired Russell to do this research and shortly before the report was released that Walker transferred Russell from being Deputy Chief of Staff to Director of Housing, a position what would allow Russell much greater access to the information he would need for his research.

I would not be surprised if the investigators did a targeted search of Russell's computer, they would find that he was looking up Neumann's information from his office.

There's been a lot of speculation on why Russell was transferred out of Walker's office.  Kelly Rindfleisch, Russell's replacement as Deputy Chief of Staff, and Jim Villa thought that Russell had fallen out of Walker's good favor and thus was banished from the Courthouse.  I pointed out the next day that this made no sense and and hypothesized that it had something to do with the veterans fund.  Now we can add this to the list of possibilities.

The key thing though is whether Russell was transferred to handle the veterans fund, which was used for really nothing more than a campaign stunt, just like the Harley Davidson ride, or to give him easier access to the information needed for the opposition research, there was one and only one person who could have ordered and effectuated such a move - Scott Walker.

I know that many of you have given up on Walker ever being held accountable, but I would again advise the gentle reader to be patient.  It took four years for prosecutors to successfully indict Blago.  We're only halfway there.

And remember that even Tim Russell was little more than a foot soldier in Walker's campaign.  There was another layer of command between Russell and Walker, through either the county or the campaign.  These people - Cindy Archer, Tom Nardelli and Keith Gilkes - are the ones to watch for now.

But never fear, Walker's time is coming.  John Doe might not be as fast as we'd like, but he is sure and steady.


  1. Thank you for the great article. You just made my day!

  2. The buzz inside the Capitol is that Walker is definitely operating on borrowed time. Governor Kleefisch: get used to it. Van Hollen already seems to be in campaign mode.

    1. Gareth, do you have any Capitol buzz as to any Democrats that might consider a run against Van Hollen? John Chisholm? Bruce Landgraf? Jessica King? JoAnne Kloppenburg? Someone else?

    2. Kathleen Vinehout and maybe Peter Barca, but it's still early and people are mainly concerned with the mining bill and other Republican atrocities on the agenda.

    3. Yeesh, I hope we can get better caliber candidates than these two. I do not want to even contemplate another four years of Walker.

  3. @Gareth. I'm wondering if the buzz is with both Democrats and Republicans? or just Democrats?