Memo to Reporters: Scott Walker’s Emails – Evidence of Felonies?

May 20, 2012

To: Interested Reporters
Date: Monday, May 21, 2012
From: Melissa Baldauff, WisDems Research Director
Memo to Reporters: Scott Walker’s Emails – Evidence of Felonies?

Scott Walker’s Emails – Evidence of Felonies?

Following the resignation of Walker administration employee Darlene Wink over allegations, now confirmed, that she was posting on blogs and websites in support of Scott Walker on taxpayer time, Scott Walker was in contact with the now-indicted Tim Russell. We now also know that Wink’s campaign activity went much further – she was planning fundraising events in her capacity as Vice-Chair of the Milwaukee County Republican Party for Scott Walker on taxpayer time, including a birthday celebration for Scott Walker.

Wink’s resignation lead Scott Walker to send the following email to Tim Russell, “I talked to her at home last night. I feel bad. She feels worse. We cannot afford another story like this one. No one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the work day, etc.”

This email was sent on May 14, 2010 at 8:46 in the morning – a time that both Walker and Russell presumably would have been at work at the County building.

There are several significant things about this exchange:

  1. The email from Walker to Russell came from Walker’s campaign email account – proof that Walker was using his personal campaign email to conduct County business.
  2. This is a clear admission that Walker knew what was going on – he knew that people in his office were using private laptops to conduct campaign activity.
  3. This email was retrieved from Kelly Rindfleisch’s email account – when, why and how did she become involved in this conversation?
  4. If we are to believe Scott Walker, who claims he knew nothing of her illegal campaign activity on his behalf, Darlene Wink’s resignation was a County personnel matter. A matter which Walker had no business discussing with an employee, Tim Russell, who was not involved. Russell worked in the Housing department – it was inappropriate to involve him in a personnel matter in the County Executive’s office.

Just ten minutes after this email exchange between Walker and Russell, Russell and Rindfleisch had an internet chat session, on the illegal secret network installed 20 feet from Walker’s desk, wherein Rindfleisch stated, “I took the wireless down. It’s in my bag for now.”

As noted in the criminal complaint against Kelly Rindfleisch, “the unofficial email system was routinely used by selected insiders within the Walker administration. The existence of this emails system, which was based on personal internet email accounts and was used for both official and unofficial purposes, was never disclosed to county employees outside a closely held group within the Walker administration.”

Walker Had Previous Knowledge of Other Illegal Activity in His County Executive’s Office

In 2003, Walker adviser and former Chief of Staff, Jim Villa, sent and received political emails on taxpayer time, planning a fundraising event for Scott Walker with Nick Hurtgen, a Chicago investment banker and former Tommy Thompson operative who has since been indicted on federal charges and whose financial dealings with Scott Walker’s Milwaukee County administration have come under scrutiny.

In an August 2004 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker characterized Villa’s campaign activity as “inappropriate,” but noted that it only happened “a couple of times” and Villa stated that his campaign email exchanges “may have been an inadvertent mistake” and were “a fairly isolated” accident.

Jim Villa testified before the John Doe on June 6, 2010, and is frequently cited in the criminal complaint against Kelly Rindfleisch.

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“YOU are the political operation in that office now; Tom is an IDIOT,” Villa writes. He doesn’t identify who Tom is, but the only Tom working in Walker’s county office at the time was Nardelli.”

“Villa opines in the online chat that “Keith will work better with you than with Tim” Russell. The transcripts don’t spell out who Keith is, but hint at a direct connection between Walker’s campaign staff and his county staff. Walker’s campaign manager was Keith Gilkes.”

Given Walker’s past knowledge of his insiders running the Milwaukee County Executive’s office as his own political shop, his present denials of knowledge of the very same behavior do not ring true. Scott Walker kept in his employ and in his inner circle people whom he knew, without question, were willing to play fast and loose with the rules on his behalf.

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