Recent John Doe Transcripts Add Many Pieces to the Puzzle, Including Federal Involvement

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[img_assist|nid=141740|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=300|height=243]The transcripts of depositions and e-chats the prosecution recently used to prove that Kelly Rindfleish was indeed in Milwaukee County when she was working full-time for the Milwaukee County Executive added some very interesting, previously unknown pieces to this puzzle:

  • David Robles is involved in this case.  According to his bio, when he spoke earlier to a group in New Jersey, he is not only a Milwaukee Assistant DA, but is "cross designated with the United States Attorney's Office, and has worked on and prosecuted both RICO and wiretap cases on the federal level.  Among his most significant cases are the 1995 Latin King RICO case involving more than 30 federal indictments, and the 2005 Lating Kings RICO indictments involving over 100 defendents."  RICO (long name: Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), is a federal law that imposes additional penalties for acts performed as part of a criminal organization.  Robles' inclusion is very telling.  It also illuminates why the FBI has been utilized on numerous occasions thus far-- most famously in the raid on Cythia Archer's home.
  • Some have suggested that the transcripts indicate that Russell left the County Exec's office to run the Miwaukee Housing Department because he was somehow on the outs with Walker, but that's not at all how I read it. In the applicable chat, the newly-appointed Deputy Chief of Staff, Kelly Rindfleish, tells Walker's former Chief of Staff and good friend Jame Villa, that "I was in the car w/Tim when he was making the moves in his head."   Villa responds that "the writing has been on the wall for some time... I was surprised he had waited this long to pull the trigger, its a better salary for him..." Villa then raises concerns that Russell's departure will create too much of a hole in the County Exec's office and that Rindfleish and others lack Russel's "historical knowledge" and "gravitas" to deal with the county board and the "political operation."  Rinfleish assures him that "Tim will still be very involved."  I read that as Russell being the one to make the decision to go to another position for a higher salary. Yes, Villa earlier says he didn't want to offend Russell by letting him know that he knew he was moving positions, but that's probably nothing more than Villa-- who was outide the office-- not wanting Russell--inside the office-- to know that he knew more than was perhaps appropriate.  Or maybe Villa used the wrong word and said "offend" as a shorthand way of saying it was "socially awkward for me to bring it up first."  In any event, the later statements by both Rindfleish and Villa undermine the notion that Russell was being pushed out.
  • In another exchange, Villa opines that Rindfleish will "get along better" with Keith Gilkes, the manager of Walker's campaign.  This is, of course, another damning smoking gun that the county exec's office was more of a campaign war room and less of a tax-payer funded office doing the people's business.
  • On March 30, 2010-- about two weeks after Rinfleish took over for Tim Russell as Dep. Chief of Staff and Russell left to become head of the Housing Department-- Rinfleish tells Villa that the Chief of Staff, Tom Nardelli, has "revoked Tim's access to the office." Now that's curious. Why was Tim Russell at the County Executive's office, when his Housing Department office was a mile away?  Clearly the only reason for Russell to be there is to continue his role as the defacto head of the Walker for Governor Campaign.  Nardelli, gives us a clear indication here that he knew what was up and was trying to mitigate the appearance of impropriety by telling Russell to stop being physically present in the office when he has little if any official reason to be there.
  • Throughout the transcripts it is clear that Scott Walker was a very hands-on guy in the office. On one occasion, Rindfleish writes to Villa that Walker canceled a meeting with a former GOP state senator she had arranged because Walker told her that the former GOP state senator had hosted a fundraiser for his gubernatorial opponent, Tom Barrett.  On another occasion, Villa shares with Rindfleish, that he had discussed with Walker a plan for Villa to come into the county exec's office and share his institutional knowledge with the employees.  Clearly the notion that Walker was some sort of Mr. Magoo that had no idea what was going on in his office is absurd. 

All and all, one thing is clear after reading this:  Tim Russell was the political point man even after he physically moved offices to the Department of Housing.  As Chris Liebenthal points out, this is why Russell was still Walker's staffer on the motorcycle ride accross Wisconsin later in the summer and why Walker sent Russell the famous email to curtail political activity in the County Exec's office, after Darlene Wink got busted by the Journal Sentinel.

In addition, it is also clear that Tom Nardelli was a marginal figure head and that Scott Walker and Tim Russell were the ones making all the important decisions.  Which, only underscores what we already know:  Scott Walker is at the center of this John Doe investigation.