Governor Walker and Illegal Political Activities


Submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

This past week, thousands of emails from within Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker’s inner circle were released as part of an appeal by his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Kelly Rindfleisch.  Ms. Rindfleisch is appealing her conviction on illegal campaign activities during the 2010 Lt. Governor’s race.

Kelly Rindfleisch was convicted of illegal campaign activity for working on the 2010 lieutenant governor’s campaign of then-Rep. Brett Davis while serving as Walker’s deputy chief of staff during his time as Milwaukee county executive. In Wisconsin, it is illegal for public employees to work on campaigns while on the clock and being paid to administer state services.

Prosecutors found that Rindfleisch traded more than 3,000 emails with Walker campaign staffers, most of which were sent on county time from a secret email system in Walker’s office. Davis, who was Walker’s favored candidate, lost the race but was later appointed by the governor as head of Wisconsin’s Medicaid program.

Rindfleisch was sentenced in 2012 to six months in jail, but her sentence has been stayed as she appeals. She unsuccessfully requested to keep her emails secret while attempting to have her conviction overturned.” Readersupportednews

Ms. Rindfleisch and five other Walker employees were convicted on various illegal campaign activity charges and the emails that were released this week laid bare the mentality of the Walker associates and their actions to work on political campaigns while being paid as state workers.  It is a bit amazing that Governor Walker has remained untouched by the prosecutors even though many of these emails that detail not only illegal campaign activities, but some alarming racist and sexist comments, were also sent to him. 

This treasure trove of email evidence also disclosed that Walker staffers were deeply involved in illegal voter caging.  “Emails released this week appear to show Governor Scott Walker’s top aides possibly engaging in an illegal scheme to “cage” Wisconsin voters in the weeks ahead of the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Voter caging is an illegal campaign practice used to purge voters from the rolls. Neighborhoods with large minority concentrations are most typically targeted by caging operations.

On page 15,037 of WalkerDocs 1, an email exchange between Walker staffers Kelly Rindfleisch and Nicole Simmons spells it out pretty plainly.  “If you come this Saturday I can show you how to cage,” Simmons writes. “That will be priority on the weekend.”‘ The Progressive

How did Governor Walker not know about this caging operation when it involved multiple staffers?   Especially in light of who was involved in the caging enterprise.

“Another email, on page 1,321 of WalkerDocs 2, shows Walker’s chief of staff Keith Gilkes ordering Rindfleisch, Fran McLaughlin and Dorothy Moore to bring friends who can help with the caging effort. Here’s a screenshot.

“We need cagers for this Saturday, we will have plenty to get caught up on,” he wrote in an email sent Oct. 21, 2010. “Please bring friends that are detail oriented and can put in some solid hours.” ‘  The Progressive  These staffers were obviously not shy in their illegal efforts on behalf of Scott Walker and his political friends.

It is surprising how Gov. Walker has remained untouched in light of the convictions of the six staffers.  However, because of the recent disclosure that a second “John Doe” investigation is currently looking at Governor Walker’s campaign activities during the 2012 recall, he may not be sleeping too well.

“John Doe probes are conducted in secret so the public can’t know all the details, but leaked documents suggest investigators are looking at possible illegal coordination between Walker’s recall campaign and independent groups that spent millions of dollars to keep him in office. Here’s how the progressive Center for Media and Democracy wrote about the investigation recently:

The John Doe probe began in August of 2012 and is examining possible “illegal campaign coordination between (name redacted), a campaign committee, and certain special interest groups,” according to an unsealed filing in the case. Sources told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the redacted committee is the Walker campaign, Friends of Scott Walker. Campaign filings show that Walker spent $86,000 on legal fees in the second half of 2013.

A John Doe is similar to a grand jury investigation, but in front of a judge rather than a jury, and is conducted under strict secrecy orders. Wisconsin’s 4th Circuit Court of Appeals unsealed some documents last week as it rejected a challenge to the probe filed by three of the unnamed “special interest groups” that had received subpoenas in the investigation and issued a ruling allowing the investigation to move forward.” Mother Jones

I highly recommend a full reading of the Mother Jones article linked above.  The cast of characters currently involved in the second John Doe investigation read like a Koch Brothers Who’s Who.  Governor Walker has remained somewhat above the fray so far, but the second investigation seems to be aimed squarely at the Governor.

Do you think Governor Walker will survive the second investigation?  In light of the racist tenor of many of the emails disclosed this week and the caging details, should Wisconsin citizens of color be concerned on the fairness of elections in their communities?

When a campaign resorts to illegal tactics like caging, what does it say about the candidate and his/her platform?  Governor Walker has some explaining to do to the people of Wisconsin.  So far he has laughed off the racist comments in the thousands of email recently released.  I will continue to follow the second John Doe investigation.  I can only hope that the main stream media will do the same.

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty-Weekend Contributor

“The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers.  As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.”

52 thoughts on “Governor Walker and Illegal Political Activities”

  1. Fortunately, there was a change of British government after “Should 5% appear too small, Be thankful I don’t take it all.” & income tax got capped below 49%, closer to what it is here. They don’t worship Thatcher over there but they probably should have.

  2. Carlyle Moulton,
    You are correct about the Florida caging enterprise and thanks for the Palast link.

  3. travelling limey, we never gave up our love of taxes even though it caused us to revolt against you Brits. The Beatles sang a song about it.

  4. Interesting on the tax vote quote, buckeroo. I remember owning a house in the San Bernardino Mountains & a whole bunch of non owners voting I donate an extra $80 a year on my property taxes for an expensive & unnecessary hospital ‘up the hill’, while plenty of nearer, never snowed in hospitals existed down the hill. Being a legal alien, I didn’t get to vote, which would have been fine if the voters on that issue owned property on which to increase tax. I lost the house in the housing debacle; didn’t realize at the time how corrupt the federal government had got, eventually blaming the bankers but rewarding them with their best years ever as they kept the tax payer money that suckers like me thought was to restructure our loans. I lost a nice house & garden but with a value plummeting from $320k to the $35k they sold it for ( I would have willingly paid 100k or more but was not permited), walking away might still have been the wisest move. Indeed democracy allows non tax payers to vote that others pay.

  5. Annieofwi.

    The caging used by the Florida GOP in 2000 consisted of sending to the target addresses registered mail marked do not forward. If the mail was returned this was taken as proof that the voter no longer lived at that address. Many of the target addresses were on military bases and their owners were away on deployment.

    Greg Palast is the authority on this matter. The articles are mostly several years old so I suggest using the search function with the keyword “caging”.

    Incidentally, in my opinion Greg Palast, Glen Greenwald and Radfley Balko are the three best American journalists.

  6. A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.”

    Alexisde Tocqueville

  7. swarthmoremom shows how progressives can run a state economy for the betterment of the many while the conservative model benefits the few. It’s interesting to see this: Contrary To GOP Rhetoric, Low-Tax States Have Worse Economic Growth

    “In reality, states that levy personal income taxes, including the states with the highest top rates, have seen more economic growth per capita and less decline in their median income level over the last ten years than the nine states that do not tax income. Unemployment rates have been nearly identical across states with and without income taxes.”

    I wonder if states that are socially conservative are also more economically disadvantaged? I digress….., but Walker types do not bring the gifts their austerity model promises.

    Just like Chris Christie, Walker is toast on a national front and it’s because these GOP tough guys can’t control their minions, or they are bullies of suspect character, or both..

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