Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Walker's Blurred Lines

We have heard a lot recently about the John Doe investigation that is being conducted in Milwaukee County. Apparently it involves Scott Walker's campaign and former Milwaukee County staffers including some that he brought with him to Madison. We've seen a lot of speculation on this subject over the last year. But that speculation has intensified after top Walker aid, Cynthia Archer, got a visit from the FBI recently. Although there is much speculation the one common thread seems to involve the alleged mixing of official work and campaign work.

If you paid attention to Scott Walker's past campaigns and to his Milwaukee County administration, none of this should be a surprise. The lines between campaign and county were repeatedly blurred during his train wreck tenure in Milwaukee County.

Revolving Door Between Walker Campaign and Walker Administration

  • Jim Villa worked for Walker's campaigns bouncing between them and taxpayer financed county jobs.
  • Robert Dennik, a former lobbyist and Walker campaign manager was appointed as head of the now nonexistent Milwaukee County Division of Economic and Community Development. Let's just say that his time there didn't go so well for him or for Milwaukee County.
  • Tim Russell has repeatedly bounced back and forth between Walker campaigns and taxpayer funded positions (including a recent promotion). At one point he even took over the train wreck that was the Economic Development job (with not much more success).
  • Walker wanted to give a county job to Chuck Grapentine even though he didn't even want to move to Milwaukee County. Chuck is the father of a former Walker aide.
Records Only Open for Political Pals

  • In 2004 when the Walker administration received an open records request from a political opponent, they obstructed it. In fact a complaint was eventually filed and an assistant attorney general sent them a scolding letter saying "...nobody honored to serve in public office out to manipulate public records in this fashion."
  • Contrast that with an extensive request sent to Walker's Administrative Services division(headed by Cynthia Archer) by Walker's political pals at Citizens for Responsible Government. In less than one month they received 188,000 accounts payable records for no charge. Later an audit was conducted of this incident because the information included sensitive data which CRG posted on their website.
  • Although the Walker administration regularly obstructed open records requests of critics in 2009 they responded to a request from their cult-like fans at the "ScottforGov" blog within 2 hours. They also provided the records to this anonymous person/group of people for free. Some have openly wondered if this blog was written by Walker administration officials, which would be remarkable because they would have been requesting records from themselves.

Campaign Donors and County Affairs

  • In 2003 Scott Walker's administration awarded a contract to Bear Stearns which was locally managed by Nicholas Hurtgen. Soon after that contract was awarded, Hurtgen helped arrange two fundraisers for Walker worth $25,000. A 2004 investigation about the contract found that it had been awarded improperly. When records were sought during that investigation, the media found that most were "lost" or destroyed. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/15/04 and 7/23/04]
  • In 2007 Walker removed an experienced member of the Milwaukee County Ethics Board and replaced them with a young attorney recommended by a member of a law firm that had given substantial campaign contributions to Walker. The then-chair of the Ethics Board suggested at the time that Walker must have been unhappy that the replaced board member publicly raised questions about Walker's actions.
  • Walker tried for years to privatize Milwaukee County's cleaning services. In 2009, when he finally accomplished that goal, the company of a major campaign contributor received the $1.2 million contract from Walker's administration.

1 comment:

capper said...

Here's another name of a crony for you, especially important now that they are reopening the caucus scandal trial - Greg Rieman.