Thursday, February 09, 2012

Tim Russell's "Time Away During the Work Day"

Over the last several weeks the John Doe investigation into Scott Walker's campaign/county operations has certainly provided many compelling revelations. One of the most telling was the email that Walker sent to Tim Russell after Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Bice broke the news about Darlene Wink posting political online comments on county time. In the email Walker said the following:

"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 statement has been analyzed in many different ways. Some have focused on the fact that Walker sent an email about official county personnel matters from his campaign account. Others have understandably questioned why Walker would communicate with Russell on a personnel issue given the fact that he no longer worked in Walker's office. Most have also focused on the "no lap tops" portion suggesting that it shows that Walker knew about the secret network that was set up in his executive offices. But today I'm personally wondering about the last part of that email because I haven't heard much commentary on it. Specifically the "no time away during the work day" part.

What exactly did Walker mean when he said "no time away during the work day"? Did he know about members of his administration going to campaign events or meeting and planning with political operatives during the work day? Now that most of his top aides have either lawyered up (including Walker) or have been formally charged/convicted of crimes, we certainly can't rely on any of them to enlighten us on the issue. So I went looking for any possible examples of "time away during the work day" that I might find from Walker administration emails from April-June, 2009.

Obviously it is a very small sample size but I can only use what I actually have to try and determine what kind of "time away" that Scott Walker could have been talking about. In those 2009 emails I found one email chain that stood out from the rest in this area. It involved longtime Walker campaign/county aide Tim Russell and the President of the right wing MacIver Institute, Brett Healy. You might recall that this group has frequently tried to provide cover for Walker's extreme agenda. Recent examples include their rather desperate "it's working" campaign. The latest manifestation of it includes a Koch Brothers fueled $700,000 ad buy.

Brett Healy was formerly the Chief of Staff to former Republican Speaker Scott Jensen. In fact he testified in 2006 regarding the caucus scandal. At the time of Healy's April 2009 email exchange with Tim Russell, he had recently been appointed as President of the then-newly formed MacIver Institute.

On Monday morning April 6, 2009 at 10:07 a.m. Healy emailed Tim Russell at his county email address on what appears to be a work day. After requesting Russell's contact information, they both plan a meeting at the Marquette University Starbucks for Thursday April 9th at 9:00 a.m, which also appears to be on a county work day. In planning the "time away" Russell and Healy exchanged some 7 emails in less than an hour. Milwaukee County taxpayer dollars hard at work! Thank goodness we were all paying Tim Russell to exchange emails and eventually meet with the head Walker enabler at MacIver.

This Russell/Healy meeting happened only a couple of weeks before Scott Walker officially announced his campaign for governor. Did Russell and Healy talk about that coming event? These are two long time political operatives, did they discuss anything political during this meeting during the county work day? A look at the MacIver website several weeks after this meeting shows a continual diet of bashing Walker's perceived opponent at the time, Governor Doyle. Their website also featured the typical gushing over Walker that has become MacIver's hallmark.

In any case, was this Russell/Healy meeting the kind of "time away during the work day" that Walker later banned after he got the bad Wink-related press? Given the facts that we have learned from the John Doe investigation recently, it would certainly be interesting to know more about what Walker was referring to in that statement.


ProgressiveConservative said...

Looks like Walker "could" be on thin ice. It would be surprising if there wasn't a Walker e-mail to a county employee, during the work day, which didn't address a campaign related issue. But then again, if there isn't such a communication from Walker - out of those thousands of e-mails - it would hard to make a case against him - unless two or more people testify against him.

Anonymous said...


The MacIver Institute is a non-profit think tank.

You may not like it or the policies and ideas they promulgate but it is entirely appropriate for the head of such an institution to meet with government officials both in and out of their offices. It happens every day throughout the country. In fact it is Healy's job to advance their ideas in just this way.

Moreover, there is no evidence released to date that Russell had any role whatsoever in Walker's gubernatorial campaign.

You are adding 2 and 2 and getting 22.

Cory Liebmann said...

I'm asking two basic questions: 1. What did walker mean by no more "time away during the work day"? and 2. Is this Russell/Healy meeting the type of thing that he was talking about?

You also assume that this was simply a meeting about public policy. i imagine that you don't know the answer to that any more than i do.

no role whatsoever? I guess it depends on your definitions of the words "campaign" and "whatsoever". wasn't the official campaign domain name registered under his name? he also owned the various ScottforGov domains. at least one complaint alleged that he set up the secret system that enabled the other staffers to do campaign work on county time.

Anonymous said...

Check out the corporate filings for all the various entities supposedly reimbursed for campaign work. Among other things look for the ones not registered in the state they supposedly are doing business in. Not sure what it means, but there are some interesting things to be found.

It should be standard oppo research practice in any case. Particularly so here.