By Jessica VanEgeren | Capital Times

Days after Gov. Scott Walker delivered speeches at national Republican events unveiling more of the hard-line, conservative policies he has come to be known for, a Milwaukee County prosecutor for the first time publicly connected the dots between the illegal activities of Walker’s former aides and staffers and the governor himself.

Monday was the first time during the secret John Doe investigation that began in May 2010 that evidence was presented in court that showed Walker was not only privy too but involved in daily meetings that combined campaign efforts for his run for governor and county employees.

“There are a lot of questions Scott Walker, himself, should answer,” says Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman with the Wisconsin Democratic Party. “We now know that he was directly involved in a criminal culture. Some of these activities are no longer speculative. They are now on the record.”

The move to reveal information specific to the John Doe investigation that would lead to Walker’s name being presented in court began nearly a year ago and is being cited by one former prosecutor as a calculated move to, among other things, introduce additional information to the judge and the public.

Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf "made a choice to show the evidence,” says Tim Verhoff, a former Dane County prosecutor and now a Madison-based criminal defense attorney. “There are many reasons he could have chosen to do so, but my guess is he wanted to show the judge the extent of how often she (Kelly Rindfleisch) was campaigning on county time, or he might have wanted to show the public the overall extent of the activity.”

Rindfleisch served as Walker’s deputy chief of staff while he was Milwaukee County executive and later as a policy adviser. She earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of felony misconduct in office and on Monday was sentenced to six months in jail and three years' probation.

Before the prosecution could present any John Doe-related information, however, permission had to be obtained from the judge overseeing the secret investigation, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Neal Nettesheim.

Nettesheim granted Landgraf permission on Jan. 25 to use the documents, including those citing Walker’s involvement in what is now unfolding to have been an illegal political operation during his final year as Milwaukee County executive.

The next day, Rindflesich was charged with four counts of public misconduct in office.

Police had raided her home and office the day before Walker was elected governor in November 2010.

Walker was subpoenaed to testify in Rindfleisch’s defense Oct. 8, but two days later she accepted a plea deal, negating the need for a jury trial.

But Landgraf, armed with emails and documents that showed a team of county workers campaigning on taxpayer time, introduced the John Doe-related evidence through a 75-slide PowerPoint presentation at Rindfleisch’s sentencing hearing.

That’s when the governor’s connection to the so-called “campaign group” came to light.

According to the prosecution, the campaign group included Walker; Keith Gilkes, Walker’s then-campaign chief of staff; campaign spokeswoman Jill Bader; and campaign adviser R.J. Johnson.

It also included top county aides to Walker, including Rindfleisch.

“I don’t know where this case is headed, but it’s not an uncommon tactic for the prosecution to go after low-level individuals and work their way up the ladder,” Verhoff says. “It is how prosecutors go after drug cases. They pinch the low-level dealers and get them to flip on the next person up the chain.”

In a phone interview Tuesday, Landgraf would not comment on whether Walker was a target of the John Doe investigation.

Landgraf’s PowerPoint presentation prompted the state Democratic Party to call on Walker to answer 14 questions that attempt to dig even further into the governor's knowledge and participation into what now has been ruled illegal campaigning by staffers on taxpayers time.

“You can’t look at the Milwaukee County docket without seeing a case, sentencing hearing or trial tied to Scott Walker,” Zielinski says. “His fingerprints are all over everything. The extent to which they were running this (campaign operation) out of his county executive office is shocking.”

On Tuesday, Tom Evenson, a Walker campaign spokesman, repeated the same line he gave reporters Monday, saying the governor “continues to fully cooperate with authorities and is not a target of the investigation.”

“It is a common and routine procedure for campaign staff and an elected official's staff to discuss matters involving the elected official they mutually serve,” said Evenson in an emailed response. “These frivolous attacks have no factual basis.”

To date, Rindfleisch is the fourth person convicted as a result of the John Doe investigation.

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MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin Democrats pounced Tuesday on newly released emails that indicate Republican Gov. Scott Walker's campaign aides worked closely with his Milwaukee County staff on media strategy during the run-up to his election, saying there's no doubt Walker himself was involved in illegal campaigning.

Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf revealed the emails during a sentencing hearing for one of Walker's county aides Monday. The proceeding was part of a monthslong secret investigation into Walker's county executive office. The governor hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing, but the probe's status is unclear.

The state Democratic Party issued a statement calling the emails a "bombshell" revelation that shows Walker turned his county office into a campaign machine.

"We believe this shows a much greater level of involvement of Scott Walker," party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said. "We believe he was running Milwaukee County like his campaign office."

Walker's campaign has insisted there's nothing uncouth about campaigns communicating with government workers.

"It is a common and routine procedure for campaign staff and an elected official's staff to discuss matters involving the elected official they mutually serve," Walker campaign spokesman Tom Evenson said in a statement. "These frivolous attacks have no factual basis."

Walker served as Milwaukee County executive until he was elected governor in November 2010. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, launched a so-called John Doe probe into the county office in May 2010, some six months before the election.

His office has charged six people so far on counts ranging from exceeding campaign contribution limits to theft. Four have been convicted, including Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker's former county deputy chief-of-staff.

Prosecutors accused her of working on Republican Brett Davis' 2010 lieutenant governor campaign on county time using a secret email system. She pleaded guilty to one felony count of misconduct in office and was sentenced to six months in jail on Monday.

During the sentencing hearing, Landgraf presented dozens of emails Rindfleisch traded with potential hosts for Davis fundraisers during county work hours. Landgraf also told the judge that Rindfleisch was in close contact with Walker's campaign on government time. He noted investigators seized 2,216 emails between Rindfleisch and Walker's top gubernatorial campaign officials, including campaign manager Keith Gilkes and spokeswoman Jill Bader, that were transmitted during business hours in 2010.

Landgraf also pointed to an email Walker's county chief of staff, Tom Nardelli, sent to Rindfleisch, a number of other county workers, Gilkes, Bader and campaign consultant R.J. Johnson. Nardelli wrote that Walker wanted them to hold a daily 8 a.m. conference call in the county executive's office to coordinate on messages to the media.

The county office didn't release any statements without vetting them through the media group, Landgraf said. The emails showed Walker personally approved a news release on the county tax levy during work hours.

During one exchange in May 2010, Gilkes and Rindfleisch discussed leaking a story to the media about problems at the state-run Mendota Mental Health Institute to draw attention from the county's mental health hospital, where nine people have died since 2010.

"There has to be a way to blow up the Mendota story before they attack Scott," Rindfleisch wrote, adding in another message efforts to gather information on Mendota "must be done covertly so it's not tied to Scott, the county or the campaign in any way."

In another instance, Rindfleisch and Gilkes discussed how to respond to the June 2010 death of Jared Kellner, who was killed when a block of concrete fell off a county parking structure and hit him. Gilkes tells Rindfleisch in a message written the day of the accident to stay on top of other county staff and "make sure there is not a paper anywhere that details a problem at all." He also ordered Rindfleisch to have the county's attorney review "every piece of paper ever created on this structure."

Rindfleisch's attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, questioned why prosecutors haven't charged Walker, Gilkes or Davis.

Landgraf told the judge that Davis, who now serves as Medicaid director for the state Department of Health Services, is a matter for Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne since Davis lives in that county. He told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Rindfleisch sent emails to Davis telling him she was working on his campaign off government time.

He referred questions on Walker and Gilkes to Chisholm, who declined to comment. Davis didn't immediately return messages left at DHS or at his home Tuesday. Gilkes declined to comment. Evenson, Walker's campaign spokesman, said Walker is cooperating with authorities and isn't a target in the investigation.

Still, Democrats said Walker's campaign has acknowledged he played a role in directing routine illegal coordination between his campaign and the county.

"Emails to and from Scott Walker himself, introduced into the court record, remove any doubt about whether he was involved in the commission of crimes," the party said, "as well as whether his Milwaukee County office was merely an illegal adjunct of his 2010 campaign for governor."


Associated Press writer Scott Bauer in Madison contributed to this report.



Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/democrats-say-emails-show-walker-was-involved-in-illegal-campaigning/article_f96d4c70-335b-11e2-8030-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz2CsLsAoKV

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin Democrats pounced Tuesday on newly released emails that indicate Republican Gov. Scott Walker's campaign aides worked closely with his Milwaukee County staff on media strategy during the run-up to his election, saying there's no doubt Walker himself was involved in illegal campaigning.

Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf revealed the emails during a sentencing hearing for one of Walker's county aides Monday. The proceeding was part of a monthslong secret investigation into Walker's county executive office. The governor hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing, but the probe's status is unclear.

The state Democratic Party issued a statement calling the emails a "bombshell" revelation that shows Walker turned his county office into a campaign machine.

"We believe this shows a much greater level of involvement of Scott Walker," party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said. "We believe he was running Milwaukee County like his campaign office."

Walker's campaign has insisted there's nothing uncouth about campaigns communicating with government workers.

"It is a common and routine procedure for campaign staff and an elected official's staff to discuss matters involving the elected official they mutually serve," Walker campaign spokesman Tom Evenson said in a statement. "These frivolous attacks have no factual basis."

Walker served as Milwaukee County executive until he was elected governor in November 2010. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, launched a so-called John Doe probe into the county office in May 2010, some six months before the election.

His office has charged six people so far on counts ranging from exceeding campaign contribution limits to theft. Four have been convicted, including Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker's former county deputy chief-of-staff.

Prosecutors accused her of working on Republican Brett Davis' 2010 lieutenant governor campaign on county time using a secret email system. She pleaded guilty to one felony count of misconduct in office and was sentenced to six months in jail on Monday.

During the sentencing hearing, Landgraf presented dozens of emails Rindfleisch traded with potential hosts for Davis fundraisers during county work hours. Landgraf also told the judge that Rindfleisch was in close contact with Walker's campaign on government time. He noted investigators seized 2,216 emails between Rindfleisch and Walker's top gubernatorial campaign officials, including campaign manager Keith Gilkes and spokeswoman Jill Bader, that were transmitted during business hours in 2010.

Landgraf also pointed to an email Walker's county chief of staff, Tom Nardelli, sent to Rindfleisch, a number of other county workers, Gilkes, Bader and campaign consultant R.J. Johnson. Nardelli wrote that Walker wanted them to hold a daily 8 a.m. conference call in the county executive's office to coordinate on messages to the media.

The county office didn't release any statements without vetting them through the media group, Landgraf said. The emails showed Walker personally approved a news release on the county tax levy during work hours.

During one exchange in May 2010, Gilkes and Rindfleisch discussed leaking a story to the media about problems at the state-run Mendota Mental Health Institute to draw attention from the county's mental health hospital, where nine people have died since 2010.

"There has to be a way to blow up the Mendota story before they attack Scott," Rindfleisch wrote, adding in another message efforts to gather information on Mendota "must be done covertly so it's not tied to Scott, the county or the campaign in any way."

In another instance, Rindfleisch and Gilkes discussed how to respond to the June 2010 death of Jared Kellner, who was killed when a block of concrete fell off a county parking structure and hit him. Gilkes tells Rindfleisch in a message written the day of the accident to stay on top of other county staff and "make sure there is not a paper anywhere that details a problem at all." He also ordered Rindfleisch to have the county's attorney review "every piece of paper ever created on this structure."

Rindfleisch's attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, questioned why prosecutors haven't charged Walker, Gilkes or Davis.

Landgraf told the judge that Davis, who now serves as Medicaid director for the state Department of Health Services, is a matter for Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne since Davis lives in that county. He told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Rindfleisch sent emails to Davis telling him she was working on his campaign off government time.

He referred questions on Walker and Gilkes to Chisholm, who declined to comment. Davis didn't immediately return messages left at DHS or at his home Tuesday. Gilkes declined to comment. Evenson, Walker's campaign spokesman, said Walker is cooperating with authorities and isn't a target in the investigation.

Still, Democrats said Walker's campaign has acknowledged he played a role in directing routine illegal coordination between his campaign and the county.

"Emails to and from Scott Walker himself, introduced into the court record, remove any doubt about whether he was involved in the commission of crimes," the party said, "as well as whether his Milwaukee County office was merely an illegal adjunct of his 2010 campaign for governor."


Associated Press writer Scott Bauer in Madison contributed to this report.



Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/democrats-say-emails-show-walker-was-involved-in-illegal-campaigning/article_f96d4c70-335b-11e2-8030-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz2CsLsAoKV