Part Two (Part Two, yesterday):
Plenty of commentators, myself included, may have overlooked something significant in the criminal complaint alleging misconduct in public office filed last month in the John Doe probe against Kelly Rindfleisch, the former Deputy Chief of Staff to ex-Milwaukee County Executive Walker.
Great attention has been paid, and rightly so, to an email reproduced on p. 50 of the complaint (pdf, here), wherein Walker instructs long-time associate and staffer, Tim Russell - - Rindfleisch's predecessor as Deputy Chief of Staff, and the architect of a clandestine, wireless email system installed for political operatives in Walker's office suite - - to put a stop to embarrassing disclosures about politicking in the Walker office.
The stakes were high for Walker, who was campaigning for Governor, and the Journal Sentinel had just written that Darlene Wink, yet another Walker staffer, was using her County job and work station for fund-raising and other partisan, political purposes.
Walker says in the email to Russell:
"We cannot afford another story like this one. No one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the workday, etc."The email makes Walker look like The-Operative-In-Charge: He's telling Russell to put a priority on political and media damage control - - surely an odd assignment for someone who was being paid by taxpayers to manage public housing programs for Milwaukee County.
And Walker seems familiar with the technical components of how the network involving Russell, Wink and Rindfleisch functioned - - "no laptops, no websites, no time away during the workday, etc."
Nor does he evince any legal or ethical implications about what the newspaper revealed.
But to my point: here's what's not getting enough attention:
The first part of the email from Walker to Russell, according to the complaint:
"I talked to her at home last night. Feel bad. She feels worse."So after Wink had resigned, or was fired - - accounts differ - - Walker volunteers that he talked to her.
About what, exactly?
Was this a meditation or a manipulation? Commiseration or coordination?
We don't know: Walker didn't supply any details in the email, except that both he and Wink felt bad, because the purpose of the email seems to getting instructions to Russell to get things cleaned up.
Same message to Wink?
I'll bet John Doe wants to know, too.
But this contact with a relatively-low ranking staffer in a position to hurt or help him during the biggest campaign of his life puts Walker on thin ice, and far beneath the high ground, to stretch the metaphor.
And speaking of thinning ice, note this line in an extensive Journal Sentinel story from two weeks ago about the filing of charges against Rindfleisch and Wink, and where Wink's testimony is headed:
One of the two, Darlene Wink, cut a deal with prosecutors under which she agreed to provide information in a related investigation about the destruction of digital evidence and to aid in further prosecutions. This is the first indication that the multifaceted John Doe investigation may be pursuing charges of evidence tampering.