Scott Walker's John Doe Scandal: Then and Now

Feb 27, 2014

We’re now nine days removed from when documents related to the first John Doe were released and Wisconsin still has no real answers from Scott Walker. Walker’s silence means we have to take a look at the statements he’s made in the past regarding the John Doe investigation and compare it to what we know now after digging through thousands of pages of previously sealed emails and court documents. 

On January 28, 2012, Walker addressed charges against two of his former aides Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfliesch for the first time. Walker adamantly denied knowledge that his staff was engaging in illegal campaign activity or posting political comments online while on county time, using taxpayer resources.

Email records show that during the 2010 gubernatorial race, Scott Walker personally directed county employees to visit news websites and post comments promoting him and his record. In an email on April 17, 2010, Walker urges his spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin to comment on a Journal Sentinel story about a closed public pool. Walker writes “Fran, you should post a comment (since they did not ask our office) that notes that this was closed by Tom Ament.”

On May 4, 2010,Walker instructed county aides to respond to JS Online commenters critical of his plan to privatize the airport. Walker writes “Someone should comment on the fact that the only way for the county to benefit from that success is to contract out operations,” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that a half-hour later, Brian Pierick — the boyfriend of Timothy D. Russell, a top Walker aide who served as Walker’s deputy chief of staff and held several administrative positions — posted a comment on the story using the alias “WI_Calvin,” parroting Walker’s email almost verbatim. 

Walker’s orders came a little more than a week before he supposedly fired Darlene Wink after she admitted to the Journal Sentinel that she spent county time posting online comments.

Emails also show that on August 21, 2010, Cindy Archer consulted a large group including Scott Walker, before posting comments to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Cindy Archer became the number two person at the Department of Administration after Walker became governor.

Contrary to Walker’s denial in 2012, Walker did know his staff was posting comments promoting him online; he encouraged the activity and personally directed his county staff to create posts.

Wisconsin isn’t getting the answers it deserves from Scott Walker, we deserve to know the truth about how Walker knew and when he first knew it. The email records tell a compelling story, what we know for sure is that Walker hasn’t been totally honest when recounting what he knew about the details of the John Doe investigation for a very long time.