February 11, 2016

DA says county staff coordinated with campaign

Scott Walker and his top campaign aides made sure that his county executive office was in sync with the image Walker was putting out in his campaign for governor in 2010. That’s according to e-mails presented by prosecutors, when ex-Walker county aide Kelly Rindfleisch was sentenced Monday to six months in jail and three years of probation for illegally campaigning on county time.

The e-mails showed that the Republican Walker was a member of what was called “The Campaign Group” – and five members of that group met daily with county workers to preserve their boss’s image. Walker campaign spokesman Tom Evenson said the two staffs had not done anything improper. But Graeme Zielinski of the state Democratic Party says Walker has a lot to answer to. As Zielinski put it, “We learned today that he was running his county office like a campaign shop.”

Rindfleisch apologized to Milwaukee County residents – but Circuit Judge David Hansher questioned her remorse, saying she has quote, “a history of undesirable behavior” which included her involvement in the State Capitol’s illegal campaigning scandal a decade ago. The judge allowed Rindfleisch to wait on her jail term until her appeals have run out.

In one county e-mail, Rindfleisch referred to an effort by the Walker camp to plant news stories about problems at the state’s Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison – and Rindfleisch wrote, “This needs to be done covertly, so it’s not tied to Scott or the campaign in any way.” The e-mails also showed that Walker’s campaign signed off on Milwaukee County’s response to the death of 15-year-old Jared Kellner, who was hit by a falling concrete at a county parking garage in 2010.

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