Yesterday the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office announced charges against longtime Walker aide Darlene Wink and former county/campaign aide Kelly Rindfleisch. Wink had already admitted to leaving political comments on blogs when she was on county time. She resigned in May 2010 when it was discovered. But these charges allege that she was also doing extensive planning for Walker fundraisers and communicating regularly and directly with Walker's campaign and others.
Kelly Rindfleisch was hired at the beginning of 2010, the same year that Walker hoped to win the race for governor. In the communications revealed in her criminal complaint she admits to a friend that "half of what I'm doing is policy for the campaign." Indeed the complaint reveals that she had more than 1,000 emails to top Walker campaign staffers on county time. Those contacts included Keith Gilkes, Stephan Thompson and Jill Bader. There were also communications longtime Walker friend and county/campaign aide Jim Villa, who had an unofficial advisory role with Walker's 2010 campaign.
The complaint for Rindfleisch actually includes an email from Scott Walker to Tim Russell. It is his reaction to the Dan Bice story about Darlene Wink posting political comments on county time. In the email Walker said the following to Russell:
"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."
Perhaps the most remarkable thing that was revealed in the criminal complaint is that selected high level Walker administration officials were using a "secret email system" and network to communicate with each other and with the Walker and Brett Davis campaigns. Not only were they using this secret network for campaign related communications but according to the complaint they were also using it for official county business.
Key Questions for Scott Walker:
- When Scott Walker emailed Tim Russell with the above listed message, why did he use his campaign email account? This was at the very least a county personnel issue and it was county business. Why would Walker use his campaign email to conduct what was clearly county business?
- Scott Walker's email to Russell specifically mentions "no laptops", so that shows us that he knew that his top staff were busy using such laptops on county time. How and when did he find that out? It was obviously important to him so why didn't he follow up on that order? Remember that according to the complaint, Kelly Rindfleisch continued doing campaign work on county time after that incident.
- Could someone please explain the employment dates of Kelly Rindfleisch because the timeline looks pretty damning? She had an extensive political and fundraising background including for the infamous Republican legislative caucus. She was hired at the beginning of a big election year to do what she described at least partially as "policy work for the campaign". Then she left the county job only weeks after Walker won the 2010 election. She was doing work for/with the Walker campaign until only days ago. Again, the timing of her employment stinks to high heaven. What is the story on that?
- What is up with Walker's top past/present campaign staffers? What? Didn't a single one of them wonder why county employees were communicating with them on a regular basis during work hours? Reading the extensive communications, you certainly get the idea that it didn't bother them one single bit.
- How many open records requests were thwarted by the existence of the Walker administration's secret network?
The taxpayers of Milwaukee County and the people of Wisconsin should demand some answers and it should be Scott Walker that directly gives them.