McLaughlin granted immunity in Walker John Doe investigation

Posted on: 2:19 pm, May 31, 2012, by , updated on: 09:37pm, May 31, 2012

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A 13th person has been granted immunity in a secret Milwaukee County investigation that has already led to criminal charges against six people close to Gov. Scott Walker.

Online court records say a judge on Thursday, May 31st, granted Fran McLaughlin’s request for immunity.

McLaughlin served as Walker’s county spokeswoman from 2007 to 2010, when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. She’s now the spokeswoman for Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

When reached for comment, defense attorney Michael A.I. Whitcomb cited court rules preventing him from discussing the case.

The John Doe investigation centers on several aides and associates to Walker before he was elected governor in 2010. The allegations range from campaigning on county time to embezzling money from a veterans program.

Walker hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing.

Back in March 2012, FOX6 News obtained court documents relating to the John Doe investigation. “Exhibit G” shows the Milwaukee County District Attorney subpoenaed human resources files for seven members of Walker’s County Executive staff.

Three of those named in the investigation have been charged:

  • Darlene Wink, Walker’s former constituent services coordinator, facing two misdemeanor charges
  • Timothy Russell, Walker’s deputy chief of staff, charged with embezzling money meant for military veterans
  • Brian Pierick, Russell’s boyfriend, charged with child enticement and exposing his private parts to a 17-year-old boy

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 that of Fran McLaughlin.

The documents obtained by FOX6 News also include transcripts of online chats between Rindfleisch and Walker’s former chief of staff, Jim Villa.

Rindfleisch wrote: “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.

“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,” Jay Heck with Common Cause Wisconsin said.

Now, McLaughlin appears to be willing to testify.

The John Doe probe has also led to raids on the homes of former Walker aides. Computers and documents were seized from Cynthia Archer’s Madison home last September.

FOX6 News has also learned evidence has been collected in raids on the homes of Rindfleisch, Villa and Brett Davis – a current official in Gov. Walker’s administration.

Milwaukee Mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Tom Barrett has repeatedly called on Gov. Walker to release more than 1,000 emails that may have been sent on a secret internet system set up near Walker’s County office.

Walker has said repeatedly he is not a target of the John Doe investigation, but he has set up a legal defense fund.

Walker says no money is going to pay legal bills of his associates.

“It’s purely about our process to continue cooperating,” Gov. Walker said.

Gov. Walker says his legal fund exists simply to pay lawyers to examine his emails and other documents.

“There are thousands of documents we’re helping them out with, it doesn’t make any sense for me as governor to spend my time — hours over days doing that –  we have other people doing that so I can do my job,” Gov. Walker said.

Earlier this week, Gov. Walker said he would not pardon any of his former staff members if they were to be convicted of crimes.

“I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not issuing any pardons on anything period,” Gov. Walker said.

Gov. Walker said he intends to continue to cooperate.

The John Doe investigation has been ongoing for two years.

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