Cap Times: Crime and Courts: Criminal complaint reveals Walker email

-By Steven Elbow

January 26, 2012- An email from Scott Walker, sent from his campaign email account in May 2010, directs an aide now facing felony charges to avoid embarrassing news stories.

"We cannot afford another story like this one," reads the email, documented in a criminal complaint made public Thursday. "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 criminal complaint that documents the email is against Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker's deputy chief of staff while he was Milwaukee County executive. It demonstrates that the story clearly concerned Walker about the activities of his employees.

"This email … with its reference to no more laptops during the workday, provides an apparent explanation for the drop in Rindfleisch's daytime fundraising activity in the few weeks following Darlene Wink's resignation," the criminal complaint against Rindfleisch states.

Walker's email references a story about Wink, a county executive office employee who resigned after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel learned she had posted about 70 comments favorable to Walker on the newspaper's website while on the clock. Wink was also charged today and faces two misdemeanor counts of solicitation by a public employee for fundraising activity in a county facility with county equipment.

Rindfleisch faces four felony counts for spending "significant time" raising funds for former state Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, during Davis' bid for lieutenant governor. The Milwaukee County DA's office alleges that Rindfleisch set up a private email network from the county executive's office to aid Davis' campaign.

The complaint alleges that Rindfleisch worked extensively on Davis' campaign but that work dropped off after the Journal Sentinel story broke on May 14, 2010. That was the same day Walker sent the email to Tim Russell, who had hired Rindfleisch earlier that year as a policy analyst in the county exec's office.

The complaint alleges that Russell, then deputy chief of staff for Walker, supplied Rindfleisch with a non-county-issued personal laptop computer, and a private Internet connection supplied by Russell, and that Rindfleisch worked on projects assigned by Russell.

The complaint documents an Internet chat between Rindfleisch and a friend on Jan. 25, 2010, in which Rindfleisch said, "Half of what I'm doing is policy for the campaign," apparently referring to Davis' campaign.

In March 2010, Rindfleisch was promoted to deputy chief of staff, working less than 25 feet from Walker's office. Both before and after the promotion, from February until July, she worked on Davis' campaign "during business hours while Rindfleisch was paid to do work on behalf of Milwaukee County," the complaint states.

Wink's charges stem from her alleged work on an event called, "Happy Birthday Scott," a fundraiser commemorating Walker's candidacy for governor and his 42nd birthday. The complaint against her alleges that she worked on the fundraiser from her desk in the county executive's office, and also used both her own personal computer and a county computer to organize the event.

The event was eventually canceled, but then Wink went to work on another event, a "Holiday Gala."

The complaint also alleges that Wink worked with the Walker campaign and the Republican Party of Milwaukee County on the gala while on the job.


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