Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Walkergate: Everything But The Kitchen Sink

Monday was quite the day in the World of Walkergate and none of it was good for Scott Walker.

Over the weekend, I had speculated that Kelly Rindfleisch was going to appeal the appellate court decision to unseal the emails and other documents that were related to her trial and subsequent conviction.

As it turns out, I was way off the mark and she and her attorney have decided to give up that fight.  Reports indicated that the documents will be released on February 19, meaning half the state will be burrowed in with their copies for the next several days.

In other developments, the list of subjects of the ongoing investigations were revealed.

We had already known that Walker's campaign was one of the subjects, as were the dark money front groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity.

Through the response filed by Special Prosecutor Frances Schmitz, it was confirmed that one of the individual subjects was Eric O'Keefe, head of Wisconsin Club for Growth and an unbearable boor who has been leaking information like an old dog with a weak bladder and seeking attention at every turn.

The other subject was none other that - insert dramatic music here - Kelly Rindfleisch. Again.  For the third time. Rindfleisch was a subject in the first caucus scandal.  Then again in Walkergate, in which she was convicted.  She can say goodbye to her friends for a while if she is charged and convicted in a third incident.

And as all this was going on, O'Keefe and his attorneys from Washington, D.C. have filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the Sons of Doe investigations into the possible collaboration between groups such as his and campaigns such as Walker's.

Even a precursory review of the petition shows the gentle reader that these are not serious people.  Even though half the petition is redacted, it is still so full of misspellings, typos, inflammatory rhetoric, half truths, flat out lies and baseless accusations that one might have thought one of the hacks from Media Trackers or Wisconsin Reporter had penned the document.   I mean, they're throwing everything but the kitchen sink in hopes that something just might stick.

The gist of the filing is that the criminal investigation is a violation of O'Keefe's civil rights. That is akin to a burglar who breaks into a house and suffers a lifelong injury, then sues the homeowner for loss of work in his chosen career of burglary.

In his article about the filing, Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel addressed a couple of the issues that makes the lawsuit so frivolous:
The Wisconsin Club for Growth "has been sidelined entirely and has ceased all First Amendment protected activity" because of the investigation, according to the lawsuit.

The club nonetheless continues to maintain a website and publish a weekly newsletter critical of President Barack Obama.

The suit notes the club is focused on issue advocacy and does not specifically urge the public to vote for or against particular candidates. That distinction is important in matters of campaign finance law because groups that make such pleas are subject to greater regulation.

But the lawsuit also contends "conservative independent social welfare organizations" like the club contributed to the success of Republicans who took over state government with the November 2010 elections.
Also worth noting, although Marley chose not to mention it, is that Wisconsin Club for Growth is also bankrolling Charlie Sykes' White Wisconsin to help get their message out via the Journal's radio station.  In other words, Journal Broadcasting could be just as culpable as the rest of the propagandists.

Among the falsities that are rampant throughout the document is smears regarding the protesters, the recalls, the unions and various people including Representative Sandy Pasch and Kathleen Falk.  Oh, and I'm in there as well, at the bottom of page 42:
142. In spring 2010, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute a county employee named Christopher Liebenthal, who was caught engaging in “excessive political blogging” for liberals from his taxpayer-funded computer. The District Attorney’s Office recognized that “Mr. Liebenthal’s actions constitute an extreme example,” but stated that it would prefer to see the situation handled as a personnel matter rather than a criminal matter. The decision by Defendants Chisholm and Landgraf to treat this conduct as a personnel matter is completely different from how they treated indistinguishable conduct by Wink and Rindfleisch. Each was charged criminally on multiple counts, and Rindfleisch was sentenced to jail time for similar conduct treated as a “personnel” matter in Liebenthal’s case.
Actually, there was quite a bit of difference.

Another one of these dark money groups, the utterly misnamed Citizens for a Responsible Government, had filed a criminal charge against me in an effort to distract from the heat of Darlene Wink and Tim Russell getting caught campaigning on county time. The charge was quickly dropped when it was seen that not only was I not seeking political contributions or doing campaign work like Wink, Russell and Rindfleisch, but I wasn't even blogging as I was accused of. A quick review of the dates that CRG was accusing me off were furlough days, vacation days and even major holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day.

So no, the issues are not anywhere near to similar.  This accusation is as false as the rest of the petition.

As a final note, a lawyerly type of friend pointed out to me that signing off on a knowingly false petition or continuing with a knowingly false lawsuit is - in itself - a crime.

It is without doubt that this is a frivolous lawsuit.  The only thing in question is whether this is a feeble attempt to delay the Sons of Doe investigations in order to buy time for Walker's campaign before fall's election or if it simply a fundraising scheme by WCfG and an elaborate sympathy ploy by O'Keefe.


  1. Capper, great work, as always, helping us figure out the legalese, thanks.

  2. I read once -- forgot where -- during the the first John Doe, that the prosecutors would be unlikely to issue indictments during an election campaign as matter of protocol. It seems to me that these frivolous lawsuits are an attempt to delay proceedings until the campaign window opens. It will be interesting to see if the prosecutors and the judge allow the process to be gamed in this manner.

  3. Gareth, another nice catch. Thanks.

  4. My impression after reading the document is that the sole reason CFG exists IS to coordinate, and if they can't do that they're done. Nothing is preventing them from doing their own issue advocacy, but apparently doing their own is unattractive- they are much more effective working through other groups. Having the other groups not work with them now seems to be an admission that the other groups know what they are doing is illegal.

    1. Which is why, apparently, Tea Party blogs & calendars & newsletters & tweets & meeting notices are all *disappearing* from the Internet as we speak...

  5. IMHO I think the fed DOJ can easily tack on an Obstruction of Justice charge to O'Keefe's list of indictments. OoJ is a label that could be rephrased, "D'uh, you weren't stupid enough when you committed the first crime/s so you had to seal your deal for prison time by committing another." O'Keefe is not on a learning curve!