Friday, June 29, 2012

Tommy & Hovde: DC Twins

Tommy Thompson and Eric Hovde may be running against each other but they are also starting to look a lot alike.  Both have been in Washington D.C. making gobs of money at the expense of good policy and public interests.  Tommy has made a fortune as a super lobbyist for just about every bad special interest that would pay him.  Eric Hovde has been busy as a hedge fund manager and a buyer of banks that have benefited from $188 billion in taxpayer funded bailout money.  The bottom line is that they are both big shot Washington D.C. insiders that both covet the U.S. Senate seat from Wisconsin.

Check out just some of the other ways that the two are very similar:

  • Both have tried to run out the clock by delaying the filing of their financial disclosures.
  • Both have refused to release their state or federal tax returns. 
  • Both went from regulating certain industries to working and/or lobbying for them.
  • Both favor unfair tax policies that give massive breaks to big corporations and rich guys like themselves. 
  • Both favor the immoral Ryan budget that would end Medicare as we know it
  • Both were quickly dumped during a vote at the Republican convention earlier this year. 
The two are so darn similar that even their numbers in a recent poll are nearly identical. The poll taken from June 19-21 shows that 26% of Republican primary voters support Thompson and 27% support Hovde.

If you want to see even more similarities between Tommy Thompson and Eric Hovde, check out this  very detailed memo that further explains the remarkable likeness between these Washington D.C. twins.  Many of the similarities have been very good for both Tommy and Hovde and for the special interests that they represent but none of those similarities represent things that are good for Wisconsin.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Contempt for the Continual NRA Circus

The absurd contempt vote in Congress today is just another part of a never ending paranoid NRA circus.  It is troubling  that some Democrats included themselves in the shameful display. Does a 100% rating from the NRA really mean that much? To quote the guy in the video below, "Do we really need to take these nuts seriously?"

ht: The Political Carnival

Tammy Baldwin Statement on Supreme Court Ruling

Statement of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin On the Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act June 28, 2012 

 “Today’s ruling by justices appointed by Presidents of both parties is an independent legal judgment. It is now time to come together and make this work.

 I disagree with those who want to rip up the decision of an independent court and start over.

 I am committed to continuing my work across party lines to make reform work and if there are bipartisan solutions that strengthen reform, we should work together to move them forward.

 I have previously authored bipartisan, health care reform legislation with Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) that earned broad co-sponsorship from 36 Republicans and 44 Democrats. I remain a willing partner to work across the political divide to advance bipartisan solutions and protect the gains we have made for the people of Wisconsin.

 I believe middle class families should have the peace of mind knowing they will have access to quality, affordable health care, regardless of any pre-existing condition.

 I believe Wisconsin small business owners should receive assistance to provide health coverage to their employees, allowing them to be more competitive in the global marketplace.

 I believe seniors should continue to have access to free preventive care, as well as affordable access to prescription drugs under Medicare.

 And I believe that it is the right thing to do to allow over 6 million young people who now have health care to stay on their parents’ health care coverage.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

Eric Hovde Meant Exactly What He Said

Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Eric Hovde has been in full on damage control mode since showing his disdain for the "sob stories" of the poor.  It seems that he is using a multifaceted approach in his spinning over the last 24 hours.
  1. Forget the "sob stories" of the poor comment, the multimillionaire candidate born into privilege is the real victim. 
  2. I don't like to talk about it but let me deflect legitimate criticism by fully detailing my massive charity portfolio.
  3. Change the subject to anything other than what I actually said...let's pretend I was talking about alleged food stamp fraud for example.
As Eric Hovde continues his damage control tour, lets focus a bit closer at what he actually said and how it totally fits into the policy positions that he is trying to push.  We don't really have to go any further than his comments regarding Paul Ryan's immoral budget.

Specifically talking about "sob story" issues like food programs: Ryan’s Plan “would cut nearly $122.5 billion from spending on the nation’s largest domestic food aid program over the next 10 years,” converting “the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, into blocks grants.” [CQ, 3/20/12]

Although these deep Ryan cuts to things like food programs would bring much pain to many people, Eric Hovde has actually said that it doesn't go far enough. In a session with the Milwaukee Press Club, a reporter asked Eric Hovde: “I’d like to know if you support Representative Paul Ryan’s plan for our economic situation…” Hovde replied: “My only issues with Paul Ryan’s plan: It’s probably not big enough…” [Eric Hovde at the Milwaukee Press Club, 4/24/2012]

In a debate with other Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, Hovde reaffirmed this deep cuts-only approach.“I do think we have to go deeper. The reality of it is, Paul [Ryan] is proposing about $5.8 trillion in cuts over the next decade. That’s going to leave us with another $5 trillion in deficit spending over the next decade. I think we have to bring out baseline budget back to 2006 before all the crazy spending started.” [Senate Debate Waukesha, 4/11/12]

So in Eric Hovde's comments about not wanting to read "sob stories" about people getting food stamps he was reflecting exactly what he wants to implement into actual policy.  It wasn't about food stamp fraud, it was about his desire to implement massive cuts to those kinds of safety net programs for the working poor. In front of his friends and allies Eric Hovde said exactly what he meant. In his short comment he accurately crystallized the exact kind of policy path that he would like to follow. His comments were obnoxious and it was insensitive to the basic needs of the less fortunate, but so is his policy agenda. 

The sad fact is that more people in Wisconsin and across the country are closer to the "sob story" than they are to the multimillionaire with multiple mansions.  I suspect that most people would rather contribute collectively to a reliable public safety net than to bank on the personal charity and whims of the wealthy elite. I honestly don't think Eric Hovde "gets it" and the fact that he doesn't brings us right back to my original point: He is a full member of the out-of-touch rich guy club and both his words and his actions show it. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eric Hovde Gives Large

Yesterday I wrote about how Eric Hovde lives large even while he criticizes the media for reporting on the "sob stories" of the poor.  He has responded to his totally out-of-touch moment by absurdly challenging the head of the Huffington Post to a debate, because they were the first national media outlet to report his unfortunate comments. He has since boasted about his charitable donations as a way to deflect the criticism that he has so rightfully received.

As far as I know, Eric Hovde has not fully released his tax returns so how are we to know exactly where he gives his money? Is he giving big to rabid right wing causes and writing it off as "charity"? Who knows? I'm sure he does give a lot to great charities, he certainly has the resources to do so.

I do know one place where I can 100% confirm that Eric Hovde is a major contributor....he has been very generous to Republican campaigns - especially to his own. 

Here is a partial listing of generous campaign contributions that Eric Hovde has given over the years to Republicans and to their poverty inducing political machine.

  • Eric Hovde very generously gave his own campaign over $1.7 million
  • Eric Hovde loaned his own campaign an additional $250,000
  • $30,000 to the Republican National Committee on 5/26/11
  • $28,500 to the Republican National Committee on 7/31/08
  • $7,500 to Scott Walker on 9/20/10
  • $2,400 to Terrence Wall on 1/19/10 (but may have taken it back later)
  • $2,300 to Mike Huckabee on 1/28/08
  • $2,300 to John McCain on 1/28/08
  • $2,300 to John McCain on 7/31/08
  • Sharon Hovde gave $2,300 to John McCain on 1/28/08
  • Sharon Hovde gave $2,300 to Mike Huckabee on 1/28/08
  • $2,300 to Norm Coleman on 10/31/08
  • $2,000 to George W. Bush on 10/27/00 (may have taken back $1,000 of it)
  • $1,000 to John McCain on 2/15/00
  • $1,000 to Scott Klug on 3/29/96
  • $1,000 to Kim Simac on 8/8/11
  • $1,000 to Alberta Darling on 8/14/11
  • $1,000 to Jonathan Steitz on 8/8/11
  • $1,000 to Sheila Harsdorf on 8/8/11
  • $1,000 to Luther Olsen on 8/8/11
  • $575 to the Republican Party of Wisconsin on 8/1/08
  • $575 to the Republican Party of Minnesota on 8/4/08
  • $575 to the Republican Campaign Committee of New Mexico on 8/1/08
  • $575 to the Colorado Republican Campaign Committee on 7/1/08 
  • $500 to Scott Brown on 5/28/10
I personally have no idea how generous Eric Hovde is in giving to legit charity but based on the above list of donations, his biggest political "charity" appears to be his own quest to buy a U.S. Senate seat.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eric Hovde Lives Large

Yesterday I wrote about Eric Hovde's official entrance into the Out-of-Touch Rich Guy Club.  His induction was brought about by his tone deaf comments at a Brookfield Chamber of Commerce event. The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate complained that the media spends too much time telling us about "sob stories" and how people couldn't get "their food stamps or this or that."

As I said yesterday, it is very easy for someone like Eric Hovde to look down his nose at working Wisconsinites that are struggling to get into the middle class and then stay there. Hovde grew up the privileged son of a real estate developer and obviously is not in touch with the real lives of average voters in Wisconsin. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised since the hedge fund manager has lived in Washington D.C. for over 20 years until he prepared to run for U.S. Senate.

Since Eric Hovde is apparently very willing to peer down on the working classes below him, perhaps we should take a closer look at a piece of his world.  This would be a lot easier if he would stop stalling and file his financial disclosures.  Until then there are only a few ways that we can take a glimpse into Hovde's privileged lifestyle.

As previously mentioned Eric Hovde lived in Washington D.C. for over 20 years and it appears that he still owns his home there. According to the District of Columbia the total value of that home is estimated at over $5 million.  Check out a bird's eye view of that massive home sitting on its sprawling estate.

In preparation for his planned run for the U.S. Senate, Eric Hovde moved back to Wisconsin.  It seems that he purchased a very large home on Lake Mendota in 2011.  Apparently he took a step down because this one was only valued at $2 million last year. But still it appears to include some of the following features:
  • A massive 100' of prime Lake Mendota frontage, lakeside patio and pier  
  • It sits across from a golf course
  • Formal dining room with an adjacent "butler's pantry"
  • Master bath with a fireplace over a large Jacuzzi
  • An exercise room and lower level gym
Don't take my word for it, check out the video tour with the pretty music.

Given his high society background and luxury-filled life, I guess I can see why Eric Hovde wouldn't want it tainted by the "sob stories" of the poor.  Who in his position would want to hear about people trying to break into the ranks of the middle class and the others that are clinging just to stay there?  Those stories of constant struggle are not usually very pretty. At least not as pretty as Eric Hovde's sprawling views of Lake Mendota.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eric Hovde Joins the Out-of-touch Rich Guy Club

Hedge fund manager and decades long Washington D.C. resident Eric Hovde has officially become a member of the Republican out-of-touch club. At a Brookfield Chamber of Commerce event the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate complained that the media spends too much time telling us about "sob stories" and how people couldn't get "their food stamps or this or that."  Easy for him to say, he is the rich guy that has never known the real struggles of working Wisconsinites.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin officially inducted Hovde into the out-of-touch club via this new video:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Individual Mandates & Tommy's Trouble with the Tea Party

It was very clear when Tommy Thompson first started to float the idea of running for the U.S. Senate in 2010 that he was not extreme enough for tea party zealots. He eventually didn't run for that race but the reaction wasn't much different when his name was floated for the current election for the U.S. Senate.  Apparently Tommy decided to ignore the tea party criticism by doing his best to transform himself into their extremist image. So while Tommy is running away from most of his history and political career, it should be no surprise that he is also running away from his past support for an individual mandate in health care policy.

Team Tommy would love for the tea party to have collective amnesia but not everyone is willing to forget his past actions, deeds and words.  Tommy's campaign seems very hyper sensitive on his ever changing support for the individual mandate.  Their insecurity on the subject sparked a very peculiar three way Twitter war last week. It involved Tommy's campaign, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a spokesperson for the right wing Club for Growth. I'll just post that exchange as it happened below:

@mattcanter (DSCC spox), 13 Jun 2012, 8:28 AM: @TeamTommy2012 do you back down from your support for President Obama's health care plan? 
@TeamTommy2012, 13 Jun 2012, 8:52AM: @mattcanter Can’t back down from something (i.e. the individual mandate) that you never supported, Canter. 
@barneykeller (Club For Growth spox), 13 June 2012, 11:59 AM: @TeamTommy2012 wait - you guys seriously claim you never supported the individual mandate? 
@TeamTommy2012.@mattcanter & @barneykeller -- He’s been against it before that was even popular. 2008 Congressional Testimony: 
@barneykeller (Club For Growth spox), Weird. I post a video of .@TeamTommy2012supporting individual mandate. Then, silence: ‪#WIsen‬ 
See what I mean? Team Tommy seems pretty sensitive to his flip-flop on the individual mandate. However he apparently wasn't sensitive enough to respond to the video that the Club for Growth spokesperson introduced.  If that is what it takes to silence Tommy on his sudden individual mandate reversal, then the rest of his campaign might become very quiet.  There are many past examples of his support for an individual mandate in Massachusetts and nationally. Here is a sample of them:

Thompson Supported An Individual Mandate For Massachusetts

  • (Video) Thompson On Romneycare: Said It Was “Great To Be Able To See It In Action”[C-Span, 8/5/06
  • Thompson Wanted All States To Follow The Massachusetts Model. According to the Capital Times, in 2006 Thompson wanted all states to have a system like Massachusetts which required all citizens to have health insurance.[Capital Times, 9/20/06] 
  • (Video) Thompson Backed Massachusetts Health Care Reform Bill As Means To Solve Broader Economic Problem Of Uninsured Americans.Thompson Pointed To Massachusetts: “You’re Going To Have To Have Some Degree Of A Mandate.”[C-Span, 4/17/06
Thompson Supported An Individual Mandate For The Nation

  • (Video) On Health Care Panel, Thompson Said The Individual Mandate Would Be Better On A Nationwide Basis.[C-Span, 4/17/06
  • (Video) Thompson: “I For One Believe The Mandates For Health Insurance Is Alright.” [“Medicaid Makeover” Speech at the University of Texas, 2/8/2007 via YouTube
  • As A Presidential Candidate, Thompson Argued All Americans Should Be Required To Have Health Insurance. [Mason City Globe Gazette, 4/4/07]
I realize that some Wisconsin conservative bloggers and others are desperately trying to explain away Tommy's past support for individual mandates. However that requires the tea party to willfully ignore their own eyes and ears on the subject.  On second thought, as a group they have become particularly adept at doing that so maybe such efforts will be successful.  But given the actual reality on the subject, most Wisconsinites should see Tommy's flip-flop as a major pander to the extreme right wing and nothing less.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Call for Recount is Clearly Coordinated Hypocrisy

You could see this coming a mile away.  Outgoing Republican State Senator Van Wanggaard at the 11th hour is requesting a recount.  The Republican front groups have been clearly setting the table for this with their anonymous allegations of alleged "voter fraud".  So it was no surprise that Wanggaard and his Republican Party handlers are using this carefully crafted pretext as their excuse for a frivolous recount.  Willfully smearing the vote and the voters in the one race that they lost on June 5th was the only option without looking like sore losers (FAIL).

Let's run through how this has played out shall we?
  1. The same right wingers that complained about "out-of-state" influences now brag about the out-of-state people and organizations that they brought in to try and suppress the vote in Democratic leaning areas of this district.  Apparently that suppression effort included a municipal clerk from Illinois
  2. Although many Walker worshipers were ungracious winners on election night, they also proved to be sore losers in Wanggaard's lost recall election.  They quickly started the typical allegations about imaginary "voter fraud".  
  3. After the official numbers showed that Wanggaard actually lost by more votes than initially reported, he stalled about whether he would call for a frivolous recount.  
  4. Anonymous reports conveniently show up the day before Wanggaard's deadline to request a recount. They are amplified by the typical Republican front groups and their loyal media outlets. 
  5. Magically Wanggaard announces at the 11th hour that he is requesting a frivolous recount and he and his party handlers use the pretext of anonymously reported and still unverified "voter fraud" as the reason. 
Another aspect that is so completely telling is the stark hypocrisy of it all.
  1. Republicans complained endlessly about the recall process (even though they have encouraged it in years past) but now they are essentially declaring their desire to continue that process because they lost a senate seat. 
  2. Republicans complained endlessly about "wasting taxpayer dollars" with recall elections but then proceeded to run fake Democrats and now they are willing to waste more taxpayer time and resources with a frivolous recount simply because they lost a senate seat.
  3. Does anyone remember the Republican complaints about the recount in the historically close state supreme court race last year? 
Here are a few selected items on the prospect of a Kloppenburg recount when the margin of victory was 0.5% or less and qualified for a paid recount (btw, Wanggaard's is not close enough to qualify):
I could go on all day with this Republican recount hypocrisy but you get the point.

In the end we are witnessing a clearly coordinated effort to manufacture a crisis and to drag out the same recall battle that Republicans claimed to hate (before they lost the state senate).  Shameless.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Meet Walker Administration "Policy Advisers" (DNR & Health Services)

In recent months I've blogged about the official calendars of several key Walker administration officials.  After June 5th it seems appropriate to provide a more complete listing of noteworthy people impacting public policy in Wisconsin behind the scenes.  This selected listing is only the result of examining 2 cabinet level officials in the Walker administration. I might post a similar blog for the other 2 Walker administration officials for which I've obtained calendar records.

Dennis Smith, Health Services Secretary

  • February 14, 2011 - Larry Rambo, CEO of Humana
  • February 14, 2011 - MacIver Institute
  • February 24, 2011 - Phone meeting with Kansas Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer (who has been busy trying to privatize that state's medicaid programs)
  • March 16, 2011 - Meet & Greet with Teen Challenge, Christian fundamentalist ministry group 
  • April 11, 2011 - Meet & Greet with Barbara Lyons, Executive Director for Wisconsin Right to Life
  • May 3, 2011 - Keith Gilkes & Mike Huebsch
  • May 16, 2011 - Meet & Greet with Ed Lump, CEO of Wisconsin Restaurant Association
  • May 31, 2011 - Jim Riordan, CEO at WPS Insurance
  • June 1, 2011 - Rep. Andre Jacque (think "personhood" bill)
  • June 10, 2011 - Longtime Walker crony John Hiller and Maximus representatives 
  • June 28, 2011 - United Health Group CEO, Lutheran Social Services Executive Team
  • August 3, 2011 - Tom Moore and PhRMA reps
  • September 12, 2011 - Call to Utah Governor Mike Leavitt
  • September 15, 2011 - Meet with WMC
  • October 11, 2011 - Phone Meeting with Republican Governors Public Policy Committee regarding Health Care Exchanges.
  • October 24, 2011 - Right wing conference, rooms reserved by Republican Governor's Association
  • November 9, 2011 - Another right wing D.C. conference apparently sponsored by the Heritage Foundation
  • November 18, 2011 - Another call with Kansas Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer on Medical Assistance "reform"

Cathy Stepp, DNR Secretary

  • February 11, 2011 - WI Builders Association, Government Affairs Committee Meeting Round Table
  •  February 17, 2011 - Scott Manley of WMC
  • February 18, 2011 - Bill Jordahl of Alliant Energy 
  • February 22, 2011 - Graymont Lime Manufacturing Company
  • March 11, 2011 - Georgia Pacific personnel
  • March 15, 2011 - Scott Manley w/Gogebic Taconite LLC
  • March 24, 2011 - WMC, Scott Manley & Agriculture groups
  • April 6, 2011 - Walker Milwaukee County crony Bob Dennik (possibly re: International Council of Shopping Centers)
  • April 7, 2011 - Meet with Bob Dennik
  • May 12, 2011 - WMC, Scott Manley, lunch & key note speaker at annual meeting
  • May 18, 2011 - Ashley Furniture meeting
  • May 26, 2011 - 2 hours with major Walker donor Liz Uihlein
  • June 6, 2011 - "TWall" (Terrance Wall?)
  • June 7, 2011 - Voigt Task Force - mining consultation call
  • June 29, 2011 - Call with WMC's Scott Manley
  • July 11 ,2011 - Terry Romeo from Water Bottling Plant
  • August 15, 2011 - Mark Ourada from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity 
  • September 1, 2011 - Georgia Pacific with Al Toma & Jeff Schoepke
  • September 7, 2011 - prep for Uline call (major Walker donors)
  • September 8, 2011 - Call with Liz Uihlein (major Walker donor) from Uline
  • September 9, 2011 - MI Mining - HudBay
  • September 15, 2011 - Keynote at WI Utilities Investors in Oconomowoc 
  • October 24, 2011 - Frac sand meeting
  • November 3, 2011 - Metropolitan Builders Association, Scott Mathie
  • November 23, 2011 - Reminder: Terrence Wall re: wetlands issue
  • December 1, 2011 - Dave Meyer - Wetland and Waterway Consulting
  • December 2, 2011 - Liz Uihlein call (major Walker donor)
  • December 12, 2011 - Liz Uhlein Tour Day
  • December 20, 2011 - WMC Scott Manley & others
  • February 8, 2012 - Cranberry Growers
  • February 22, 2012 - Murphy Oil/Calumet

Monday, June 11, 2012

Some Things Never Change

The following quote seems relevant given Scott Walker's Beer & Brats Photo Op on Tuesday.  It is taken from Walker's longtime allies on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board. It is interesting that this admonishment from an ally comes a full 6 years into his time as Milwaukee County Executive.

"There needs to be far more [cooperation]. But for that to happen, Walker needs to bend..." -MJS, 3/30/08

The true test of Scott Walker's will to cooperate comes after the brats are put down and the legislative proposals are picked up. Will he bend or will he go back to his rigid default position?

John Doe Says No

After Scott Walker won the recall election I can understand why his most obsessed followers experience delusions about him joining Mitt Romney on the presidential ticket.  But to have prominent members of the media actually speculate about this delusion is truly ridiculous.  For example CNN's Piers Morgan made it the highlight of his entire pathetic interview with Walker last week. (eat your heart out Fox News)

With the sad exception of John McCain in 2008, most presidential candidates thoroughly and completely vet potential running mates.  Does anyone seriously think that the Romney campaign and the establishment Republicans are going to allow Scott Walker to join that ticket with the John Doe investigation still hanging over his head and while Walker is still spending money hand over fist from his criminal defense fund? Nope. Not going to happen. Scott Walker knows it, why doesn't the media?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Walker needs an education on "cooperation"

After the election Tuesday Scott Walker has been talking about cooperation with Democrats.  As an apparent sign of his alleged change in tactic he even invited Democrats to a beer and brat photo op.  Given his history of self-promotion and manipulation I certainly hope that people don't take his words at face value.  Don't listen to his words, watch his actions.  If you need a primer on Scott Walker and "cooperation" or "conciliation" you might want to talk to members of the Milwaukee County Board.

Walker says that he wants to cooperate but then when he gets his first chance to unfairly attack others for his own political gain he doesn't hesitate.  It has been reported in recent days that the UW regents are considering a 5.5% increase in tuition.  Obviously that is not desirable but to have Scott Walker, the person that heavily and repeatedly cut education,  reportedly complaining about it requires an epic level of hypocrisy.

So Walker pretends to want "cooperation" right after the election but he appears to be taking the very first opportunity to unfairly attack others.  Dan Bice noted that yesterday at a morning press conference Walker blamed the proposed tuition increase on the fact that a majority of the UW Regents were appointed by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. Yeah, that doesn't sound like a conciliatory tone to me.

Walker has been governor for over a year and a half and he is still blaming the Democrat that proceeded him? Even though the Regents are trying to deal with HIS BUDGET CUTS? HIS TUITION INCREASE? Typical Scott Walker...He will continue to blame others for the results of his own radical policies, actions and incompetence.

As I fully expected, Scott Walker is not being real when he talks about "cooperation".  In fact he really desperately needs an education...

....about what that word actually means.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Tim Russell's Recently Filed Motion

Scott Walker's longtime political operative and aide, Tim Russell has a court date on Monday.  It is for the very serious charges of him allegedly embezzling tens of thousands of dollars.  As most will recall, this case was brought against him based on the ongoing John Doe investigation.  Monday's court date is marked as a pretrial but only a few days ago Russell's attorney filed a motion and I'm wondering if it will be argued at that hearing.

Yesterday I went to the Milwaukee County Courthouse and pulled Tim Russell's file.  Because of the coming court date, the file was already in the actual court room, so that is where I had to examine the file.  Because of timing and logistics, I was unable to obtain copies of the newly filed motions.  The following points are based on my own notes and understanding of the motion that Tim Russell's attorney recently filed. (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered some of this Thursday)

  • In recent weeks we have seen a clear and coordinated effort from Walker supporters to attack the John Doe process and the dedicated law enforcement officers that are in charge of investigating and prosecuting alleged crimes related to it.  Based on the recently filed motion it now appears that Tim Russell's lawyers are going to start formally attacking the John Doe investigation, the process, the prosecutors and even the judge. 
  • Tim Russell's lawyer claims that the only "remedies" to the issues that they raise is A. Dismiss the case entirely or B. Suppress virtually all of the key evidence (it specifically mentions evidence that was gathered via search warrants, Subpoenas and even  the testimony of two key witnesses). 
  • Based on my reading of the motion, it seems clear to me that Russell's attorney is very concerned about his client's exposure related to charges that have yet to be filed against him.  Given some of the things that we have read in the various complaints, he certainly should be concerned.  At one point Russell's attorney seems to reference the idea that the prosecutors might be hanging these uncharged issues over Tim Russell's head in order to get him to cooperate.  
  • Tim Russell's attorney repeatedly offers a quote that he attributes to Assistant D.A. Bruce Landgraf as saying, "everybody is cooperative when it comes to Tim".  To me that statement says that Tim Russell's political pals are more than willing to throw him under the nearest prosecutorial bus.
If Tim Russell's attempt to have the case thrown out or for the evidence to be suppressed fails, you have to wonder what would keep him from quickly making a deal.  It seems to be in his own best interests given the massive amount of uncharged legal exposure that is currently hanging over his head.  One would think that the motivation to reach the best deal possible would be increased when his political allies have apparently thrown him so completely under the bus.

I am not sure if this motion will be argued on Monday because I didn't see a response to the motion from the DA's office in the file.  Frankly I don't know when they are going to argue the latest Russell motion but I do know that we should all keep an eye on it.  We should also be keeping an eye on what Tim Russell decides to do if the motion does fail because it could have a direct impact on many of the remaining elements of the John Doe investigation.

Update 1: Also read Capper's take on this, "Russell Tries to Handcuff John Doe"

Update 2: During Tim Russell's court hearing today (6/4/12) it was revealed that it was HIS attorney that released the document that was featured in Dan Bice's story last week.  That document revealed Walker's stonewalling of the DA's investigation.  Furthermore it was revealed in court that Russell's lawyer released this document with his client's permission.  Does Russell still "stand with Walker" or does he finally realize that Walker and Company have thrown him under the bus?

Revisiting ScottforGov and its Open Records Request

Readers might recall that I have a long history with Scott Walker's Milwaukee County administration stalling and otherwise obstructing my open records requests.  In 2010 his administration made me wait at lest 8 or 9 months to get records that I had requested of them.  In fact I may have never received those records if a reporter would not have called them and inquired about the long delay.

In the past I have also contrasted Walker's history of open record obstruction with how his office quickly (and usually for free) processed both large and small requests for his political allies.  One example of this that I have given on this blog is their quick response to the anonymous shill blog, ScottforGov.  It is the blog that was very quickly taken down after Darlene Wink was caught doing political stuff on county time.  Based on criminal complaints we also know that longtime Walker aide Tim Russell purchased some of the domains related to this anonymous shill blog.

The following is simply a review of how this anonymous open records request was quickly processed for free by the Walker administration.  I've included more recent details from the John Doe that seem relevant.

  1. Someone from the ScottforGov sent an open records request to Scott Walker's general county email account.  I don't know who personally sent the email but it is interesting to note that Tim Russell is the person that paid for the domains according to the criminal complaint against him. 
  2. Darlene Wink originally received this open records request from the ScottforGov blog.  We know that she has already admitted to improperly doing political work on county time and has reached a plea deal with prosecutors.
  3. After Wink received the friendly open records request she quickly forwarded it to Wallker's communications person, Fran McLaughlin*.  Her name may sound familiar to you because on Thursday she became the 13th person in the John Doe to request and receive immunity.  An interesting note is that she appeared to get immunity after first invoking her 5th amendment right against self incrimination.  
It is also interesting to note that the anonymous shills at ScottforGov knew the exact details of my open records requests to the Walker administration.  In fact they blogged about it later (see the "Neumann slithering around for dirt" entry) .  It is certainly a telling event given the people involved with that flawed process and all of the details that have emerged so far from the John Doe investigation.

*For the record it was Fran McLaughlin that I had to deal with on my open records requests and as previously stated it took 8 or 9 months to get those records (only AFTER a reporter called inquiring about the long delay)

More Walker Criminal Defense $ Means More Work

Scott Walker's most recent campaign finance filing shows that he put another $100,000 into his criminal defense fund.  He transferred $70k on May 3rd and another $30k on May 17th.  That is in addition to the previous $60,000 that he put in his criminal defense fund. He is the only governor in the history of the state to have a criminal defense fund, he continues to ramp up transfers to the fund and yet we still don't even have a straight answer from Walker about why it is even necessary in the first place.  Are we really supposed to believe that all of this money is being spent for his lawyers to simply photo copy emails for the District Attorney's office?

One thing is clear, Walker has certainly ramped up his funding of his criminal defense fund.  Since Walker is refusing to be transparent with voters, what can we gather from his actions on our own? It seems clear that his high priced criminal defense lawyers must be putting in rapidly increased hours in recent weeks.  Walker claims that he isn't using the money to pay for his aides legal fees. So what explains the jump in criminal defense spending? Have his lawyers hired an investigator or other consultants or experts of some kind? What work are they doing that is wracking up so many hours so quickly?  You don't have this level of legal spending because you are just simply "cooperating" with the prosecutors. Something is clearly afoot and voters should know what it is before the recall election.