Wisconsin’s media outlets have reported in the last 24 hours that one of Scott Walker’s former aides was sentenced yesterday to 6 months in jail and 3 years of probation.
That’s big news but unfortunately most of the state’s reporters missed the bigger news from Kelly Rindfleisch’s sentencing hearing. One exception is Daniel Bice from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf gave a 65 minute presentation at Rindfleisch's hearing yesterday detailing how Scott Walker, who was the Milwaukee County Executive while simultaneously running for Governor, turned over control of his County Executive office staff to his campaign. In today’s online edition, Bice and Steven Schultze highlight some of the revelations from Landgraf’s presentation.
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 then-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."
Bice was interviewed this morning on Madison radio station WTDY. A podcast of that interview is available here.
I can’t say it more bluntly. For at least a year, Milwaukee County’s executive office was being run not by Scott Walker, but by Scott Walker for Governor. Walker’s high-level staffers were focused solely on getting Scott Walker elected as governor, not on serving the residents of Milwaukee County.
Walker’s supporters are now making two claims: The campaign and the County Exec’s staff were just synching up schedules, and that this is nothing new.
The emails highlighted by Bice and Schultze show that there was a lot more than synching of calendars going on, and in fact Landgraf did provide something new. For the first time, someone from the Milwaukee County D.A. office stated that Walker had knowledge of the illegal activities going on while he was County Executive:
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.This does not mean that Scott Walker will be indicted tomorrow, or even this year. What it means is that the John Doe probe is not over yet. There is another sentencing and two more trials involving other Walker associates coming up. After that, who knows? One thing is certain. Anybody who has donated money to Scott Walker hoping he will run for President in 2016 might want to put a stop-payment on their check, unless they’re OK with the money going to Walker’s defense fund.
UPDATE! Here is a link to Assistant DA Landgraf's Powerpoint slides used in court: