Then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker told the Lakeland Times newspaper in a lengthy interview during the gubernatorial campaign published on September 8th, 2010, that his work and behavior as Milwaukee County Executive established and reinforced his belief in open government:
TransparencyThe story remains on his campaign website.
When he says he believes in government transparency, it's not just a campaign slogan, Walker said.
"I don't just say that, I've lived it," he said.
But by the time that interview was published, a then-undisclosed email system in the County Courthouse that was regularly used by Walker's inner circle and other Republican operatives had been there for eleven months, records now show.
The system operated outside of the regular communications networks in the Courthouse, and outside of the reach of legal, Open Records search and requests.
And was set up by long-time Walker associate and County Executive staffer Tim Russell, according to the criminal complaint filed against Kelly Rindfleisch.
She had been hired in early 2010 for a taxpayer-paid position in Walker's public service office, but in reality was carrying out fund-raising and political work for then-State Rep. Brett Davis' unsuccessful campaign for Lt. Gov., the complaint says. Davis was a Walker favorite.
Rindfleisch was later promoted to Walker's Deputy Chief of staff - - an even higher-paid public position previously held by Russell - - from which she allegedly and repetitively used the secret communications system, on public time for illegal political purposes, that was located in her office less than 25 feet from Walker's office, the complaint states.
It all makes laughable Walker's earlier call for ethics reforms to restore trust in government.
Rindfleisch faces four felony counts of misconduct in public office filed by county prosecutors in the continuing John Doe probe into the operation of Walker's office and campaigns, records show.
On page 15 of the complaint (use link above), it is alleged that in addition to work for the Davis campaign, there were more than 1,000 emails sent or received among Rindfleisch and three top Friends of Scott Walker gubernatorial campaign officials - - the campaign manager, deputy and communications director - - between Feb. 2 and July 9, 2010 - - before then-County Executive Walker told the Lakeland Times he had "lived" transparency in County government.
Russell was charged separately with stealing money from a politically-advantageous veterans' fund that Walker assigned him to run out of the County Executive's Office, despite advice from the County's Ethics Board that the fund's operation be moved away from County Government.
Transparent County operations? More like a Nixonian throwback.
Davis, who did not win a primary for Lt. Gov., was appointed state Medicaid director by now Gov. Walker.
Davis' then-campaign manager, Cullen Werwie, remains as Gov. Walker's press secretary despite even though he shows up in some of the email traffic cited in the Rindfleisch complaint, and has been given immunity in the John Doe probe.