Isthmus: Gov. Scott Walker’s corruption scandal brings shame to Wisconsin

-By Brian Austin

February 15, 2012- A government that has lost the trust of its citizens is not long for power. Under Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin has gone in one year from being a state renowned for open and clean government to one that is shabby and nefarious.

Actually, we need to start before Walker was elected governor — specifically 1987, when Walker ran for student body president at Marquette University. During that campaign, he was found to be in violation of the school's campaign rules, including engaging in door-to-door campaigning, which was strictly prohibited. Walker was ultimately described to be "unfit for presidency" by the Marquette Tribune. When the Tribune endorsed Walker's opponent, Walker's supporters destroyed as many copies of the newspaper as they could find. This provides a window into our governor's character. Unfortunately, this incident received only cursory media attention during Walker's bid for governor.

Fast forward to July 2011. At that time, a staunch Walker supporter, William Gardner, was sentenced in Milwaukee County Circuit Court for two felony charges related to violations of campaign finance law. Gardner was the majority owner of Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, and during 2009 and 2010, he illegally funneled over $50,000 of company money to Walker's campaign through railroad employees. Gardner's scheme unraveled after his ex-girlfriend reported the activity to the Government Accountability Board. It was reported that Gardner and Walker met just days before Gardner's girlfriend notified the GAB, although Walker insisted later that he only spoke with Gardner about his "transportation philosophy."

Then, in September of 2011, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at the residence of Cynthia Archer, a high-ranking official in Walker's Department of Administration described as having played an active role in the plan to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public employees. Archer was, by all accounts, a top aide to Walker, and was present during the dinner Walker assembled to announce the collective bargaining bill to his cabinet. It was reported that during the FBI raid, agents seized a box of documents from Archer's home, and a hard drive from a computer that Archer had recently given to her neighbor.

From there, Walker's inner circle, both from his campaign organization and his former staff at the Milwaukee County Executive office, utterly unraveled. So far, six of his closest allies have been arrested and charged with felonies. At least one of them is talking. Let me ask you: How many of your close friends have committed felonies on your behalf?

Here is a description of the cast of characters, with more likely to come.

Darlene Wink: Wink served as Constituents Services Coordinator in the Milwaukee County Executive's office. Wink has entered a guilty plea to two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee, and is currently cooperating with prosecutors in the John Doe investigation. While employed with Walker's office, Wink posted numerous comments on political blogs promoting Scott Walker for governor. Even more troubling, Wink, while paid by the Milwaukee County taxpayers, actively worked on Walker's campaign, including organizing gala fundraisers while on duty. One of the people Wink communicated with regarding these fundraisers was none other than Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

If there was any doubt as to Wink's knowledge of the fact that she was breaking the law, an email she sent to Tim Russell (see below) puts this to rest. In 2009, Wink sent Russell an email asking how she could erase a document from an online chat session. Wink remarked to Russell: "I just am afraid of going to jail – ha! ha!"

When Wink's online posting during work hours was exposed in 2010, she resigned from her position in Walker's office. In response to this, Scott Walker sent an email to Tim Russell about Wink and her situation. Walker stated:

I talked to her at home last night. I feel bad. She feels worse. 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 work day, etc.

There are two striking things about this email. First is that when Walker sent this email to Russell, Russell was no longer working in the County Executive's office, and was instead working for another county department. Additionally, Walker sent this email from his campaign account, not his county email account. The second striking thing is the tone of the email itself: no surprise, no outrage, no denial. In my opinion, it is proof that Walker knew what was occurring in his office on his behalf.


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