Thursday, December 19, 2013

Walkergate: A Tale Of Two Cronies

It was the worst of times.  It was the worst of crimes.

In January 2011, the state was still reeling from the first round of degenerate and detrimental laws passed by Scott Walker and his Teapublican legislature.  One of the most damaging laws was Act 10, from which the state still suffers and will be years - and new leadership - to even begin repairing the damage this has caused.

People were distraught and in despair about the loss of their rights and their livelihoods.

But early in the early days of that year, hope came in the form of a John Doe investigation known as Walkergate.  The investigation led to the arrest and conviction of the Walker Six - the six people that had been convicted of crimes ranging from illegal campaign contributions to illegal politicking.  People were anxiously awaiting for Walker himself to become a defendant, something which has yet to happen.

Two of Scott Walker's cronies - Tim Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh - were arrested and charged with stealing from a fund meant for veterans and their families.  (Actually, the fund was being used to promote Walker and his campaign for governor.)

Both men were eventually convicted for their crimes.

Russell, at the time of his crimes, was serving as Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff and could have been charged with much more than theft.  He was sentenced to two years in prison, two years on extended supervision and was ordered to pay $26,621.04 in restitution.

Kavanaugh was appointed by Walker to Milwaukee County's Veteran Service Commission.  He was sentenced to two years prison and two years of extended supervision and was ordered to pay $51,232.00 in restitution.

Similar crimes, similar times.

But that is where the similarity ends.

Russell's case

Russell, who was pulling all sorts of stunts during his trial, is now back at it.  Russell has filed a rather frivolous petition to have his sentence pared down and to have the restitution cut.  The premise of his petition is twofold.

Russell thinks that his prison time should be shortened because he feels that Judge Hansher was thinking he was sentencing him to Misconduct in Office instead of theft.  But on page four of his petition, he shoots this argument in the foot by pointing out how the judge took pains to clarify things:
THE COURT:  ...And this is on my own motion because it was my recollection, and I know I said it, I talked during sentencing about misconduct in public office.  And I think I made the statement, and I wrote this down, misconduct in public office speaks for itself I believe I said that.

The defendant was not charged with misconduct in public office.  I was aware of that.  I even said in the beginning he pled guilty to count one which was theft.  The court's reference to misconduct in public office was a reference to him being deputy chief of staff at the time.  It was a characterization.  I was viewing this as a fact, not as a charge, because this happened while he was in public office.
Russell also thinks he should not have to pay back $5,000 of the veteran's fund because he rented office space for a company he made up for the sole purpose of allowing Walker to continue to control the money, even though the county's Ethics Board ordered the money away from Walker's office.

In other words, Russell, who the judge said had no shame in the crime, still has not learned any remorse for what he did but is tired of eating baloney sandwiches.  But since Russell has been abandoned by his very good friend Scott Walker, his only recourse is to try this shameless manipulation of the court.

The court has ordered the state to respond by January 20, 2014 and then Russell's attorney to respond by February 4.  After that, the court will make either issue a written decision or set the matter for hearing.

Another hearing is the last thing that Walker will want as things start to heat up for the gubernatorial race.  Walker, who has never really distanced himself from Russell, doesn't want people to remember all of the corruption he is tied up in.

Kavanaugh's case

Kavanaugh's case was much tamer than Russell's.  Even though there were some delays in his proceedings due to illness and he tried to use some weak excuses to minimize and rationalize his crime, it was a more or less open and shut case.

But what is happening now is anything but normal.

Unlike Russell, Kavanaugh has filed no petitions to have his sentence changed.

He didn't need to.

Walker's Department of Corrections has done it for him.  I was alerted to this recent entry into Kavanaugh's case:
DOC is requesting the Court to authorize the inmate's release and conversion of remaining confinement time to extended supervision.
The reasons that this is rather exceptional are that it's Walker's DOC making the request and not Kavanaugh himself, that this goes against Walker's whole "Truth in Sentencing" philosophy and that it also goes against Act 38, which repeals any sort of early release from prison.

The only exception to Act 38 which might explain this would be if Kavanaugh is having an "extraordinary" health condition.  But even then, it would go against all of the tough on crime attitude that Walker prides himself on.

Another explanation for the difference in treatment is that Russell caused Walker greater embarrassment.  Russell and Walker are very close and their history together goes back decades.  Not only that, but Russell was found to have been deep into the illegal campaigning going on, including the setting up of a secret router in the executive suite of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.  It was also Russell's shenanigans during his court proceedings that revealed other shameful acts by Walker, including his stonewalling of the Walkergate investigation.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that even the apparent preferential treatment of Kavanaugh's case pales in comparison to that of Kelly Rindfleisch, who is still free pending on an appeal of her conviction.  Then again, Rindfleisch also appears to be sole person of the Walker Six who is also receiving his aid in funding her legal defense.

Apparently in Walker's eyes, all cronies are created equal.  It's just that some are more equal than others.


  1. More complaints about efforts to save the taxpayers money. Why should a non violent criminal be stored in an expensive taxpayer supported incarceration center staffed by highly paid corrections personnel? These people have presumptive diagnoses of Affluenza and Limbaughitis. They deserve less than they get.

    They could be working at a political consulting or state administrative job and earning money for political contributions! Instead they are locked up and Walker is flailing and failing. Yet you apparently begrudge the Happy Holidays gift of absolution that the Governor would bestow to a few. (He can't do it for too many,as that would become an entitlement and resemble socialism.)

    Besides, with the probable indictment of Scott Walker's fellow Republican governor (either the McDonnell guy in VA or the Christie guy in Jersey Shores) his new correctional management slogan is "Catch and Release- Give Them Their Chance To Turn Their Lives Around!"

    1. The other possibility is that Governor Walker sees nothing,knows nothing, and this is not his fault!

    2. @8:13pm, don't kid yourself.
      Walker won't even say "I don't have another Criminal Defense Fund or I'm not guilty"
      Ergo...he does and he is.
      Acceptance is the first step to your recovery.

  2. By the logic of Russell's appeal, a burglar should be able to write off the expenses of his tools and transportation costs too and from your home, from the restitution costs of the property stolen. The is era of lawless Republicanism is truly a brave new world. Either that, or he has an attorney who is milking a legal cooperation fund.