Two more people have been charged in the investigation of former aides to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), from his time as Milwaukee County Executive — including the person whose original alleged misconduct appears to have set off the whole business to begin with.
The charges were announced Thursday by District Attorney John Chisholm (D). Walker’s former deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch, and former constituent services coordinator Darlene Wink, are charged with illegally raising money while in a county building and using government equipment to do so.
Wink is charged with fundraising for Walker, while Rindfleisch is charged with fundraising for a whole different candidate in another race — then state Rep. Brett Davis, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2010 Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, after Davis lost the primary he has since become Walker’s state Medicaid director.
The District Attorney’s press release describes the four felony counts against Rindfleisch:
She is alleged to have spent significant time while in the County Executive’s office working as a fundraiser for Lieutenant Governor candidate Brett Davis. In the course of the investigation it was learned that a private e-mail network was established and operated out of the County Executive’s office and that the private network was used to communicate both political campaign and government work related information to select information
The “John Doe” investigation — a secret proceeding in which witnesses can be subpoenaed to testify under oath, but are forbidden from talking publicly about the case — reportedly began in 2010, when Walker was a candidate for governor. Darlene Wink resigned after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that she had been using state time to post comments on the paper’s articles, promoting Walker and criticizing his opponents in the gubernatorial race.
For example, one comment criticized Walker’s opponent in the Republican primary, former Congressman Mark Neumann: “Conservatives need to listen to what Neumann is really saying - the true conservative in the race for Governor is Walker.” Wink posted her comments under the handle “RPMCVP” — a reference to her dual position as vice chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party.
These new charges, however, go to a higher level by crossing over into outright fundraising activity.
Three weeks ago, other former Walker aides were charged with allegedly defrauding a veteran’s charity. In addition, a former aide’s domestic partner was charged with child enticement after evidence was found in the course of the investigation.
Walker is facing a recall election later in the year, after Democrats turned in over a million signatures — nearly twice the 540,208, or 25 percent of the total votes in the previous election for governor, needed to trigger a new election. For now, however, a recent poll showed Walker leading each of his potential Democratic opponents.