MILWAUKEE — Another name has surfaced in the ongoing John Doe investigation that has led to criminal charges against several aides to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, back when he was serving as Milwaukee’s County Executive. A woman who works in the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, and was once a top aide to Walker when he was county executive is the latest to be targeted in this investigation.
FOX6 News obtained court documents relating to the ongoing John Doe investigation. “Exhibit G” shows the Milwaukee County District Attorney subpoenaed human resources files for seven members of Scott Walkers staff when he was the Milwaukee County Executive.
Three of the people named in the investigation have already been charged. Darlene Wink – Walker’s former constituent services coordinator faces two misdemeanor charges. Timothy Russell, who served as a deputy chief of staff, has been charged with embezzling money for military veterans. Kelly Rindfleisch – Walker’s former deputy chief of staff, has been charged with four felony counts of misconduct in office.
The next name on the list is Fran McLaughlin. She served as then-county executive Walker’s communications director. She now serves in the same capacity for Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.
Documents obtained by FOX6 News show McLaughlin may be the latest of Walker’s staff members to be under the microscope.The documents also include transcripts of online chats between Rindfleisch and Walker’s former chief of staff, Jim Villa. Rindfleisch says: “I got Fran highlighting all the mistakes in the press releases that the campaign does.” That’s a possible reference to McLaughlin editing Walker’s campaign press releases.
Jay Heck is the executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin – a non-partisan group that advocates clean government. He says this is typically how a John Doe investigation unfolds. “That’s interesting that that document exists and kind of lays out the road map that the District Attorney’s Office wanted to initially follow. It appears they’re not quite done yet with everybody on that list. It seems to be another example of somebody working on county time on the taxpayers dime, cheating the taxpayers, working on something they’re not supposed to be working on, which is the political advancement of Scott Walker for another office,” Heck said.
The documents also show Rindfleisch discussing possible retribution against political enemies that was stopped by Walker. Rindfleisch said: “Scott won’t let me do any of the things I want to do to (expletive) her over.”
In the documents, Rindfleisch reportedly chatted with Villa about what jobs they could get in the Walker administration. Rindfleisch said: “I’ve decided you need to be secretary of commerce, and don’t tell me you don’t have the experience.”
Prosecutors allege Rindfleisch and others used a secret email system, on a separate wireless internet connection to conduct campaign business in Walker’s county offices. Walker himself has denied any wrongdoing on several occasions.
“What’s most shocking to me, is just sort of the audacity of doing that on a county system or a system that’s within the county building. I think one of the questions that people are wondering about is, if all of the top people in the county executive’s office seem to know about, and seem to be working on activity illegally, did the boss know or not? And if the boss didn’t know it, why didn’t he know it?” Heck said.
FOX6 News spoke with Fran McLaughlin via phone Sunday night, and she said she couldn’t comment on the investigation.