Two more of Governor Scott Walker’s former Milwaukee County aides are charged as part of an ongoing John Doe investigation. Former county policy advisor and deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch is charged with four felony counts of misconduct in public office. The 43-year-old woman is accused of fundraising on county time for Lieutenant Governor candidate Brett Davis. Jay Heck of the watchdog group Common Cause says it’s something the state has seen before.
AUDIO: Jay Heck :12
Court records show Rindfleisch actually used to work for the Republican senate and assembly caucuses and was interviewed during the 2002 investigation. Reportedly chief of staff Tim Russell gave Rindfleisch a personal laptop and set up a private Internet connection inside the county executive’s office. She’s accused of sending nearly 1,400 emails from a private email account — on county time — and more than 1,000 emails to staffers of Walker’s campaign for governor. While she was being paid by the county, records show she received $1,000 a month as a fundraiser for Davis. Former constituent services coordinator Darlene Wink is charged with two misdemeanor counts of internal political solicitation by public employees. The 61-year-old woman is accused of spending part of her time posting comments on online news articles in favor of Walker and against his opponents. Heck says it’s time for Governor Walker to address the issue.
AUDIO: Jay Heck :14
There are now four ex-Walker aides charged as a result of the John Doe probe. Former county aides Tim Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh are both accused of embezzling over $63,000 from an annual event that benefits veterans and their families. Russell’s domestic partner, Brian Pierick, was charged with two unrelated felony counts of child enticement — reportedly from evidence gathered in the John Doe. The governor had a scheduled event in the Wausau-area today for his post State of the State speaking tour, which he cancelled “due to weather conditions,” according to a press release from his office.
UPDATE: Friends of Scott Walker communications director Ciara Matthews released a statement Thursday afternoon following the announcement from the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office: “The Milwaukee County Executive’s Office expressed policy was that county employees were not permitted to use county time or resources to conduct any political activity. Scott Walker expected everyone to follow the law and made that clear publicly and privately.”
Mike Kemmeter, WHBY