MADISON (WITI) — The Wisconsin Court of Appeals released thousands of emails on Wednesday, February 19th from the private Gmail account belonging to a former aide to now-Governor Scott Walker. Kelly Rindfleisch served as Walker’s Deputy Chief of Staff in 2010 when he was County Executive. Now, the big question is – Did Scott Walker know crimes were being committed in his office while he was Milwaukee’s County Executive?
Rindfleisch is one of six people convicted of crimes in connection with a secret John Doe investigation led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.
CLICK HERE to view transcript with summarized details
In 2012, Rindfleisch was convicted of felony misconduct in public office for doing campaign work on county time. That case revealed that Rindfleisch, whose office was located two doors down from the future Governor, was using a laptop and wireless internet router that were not connected to the county’s computer network to do campaign work during the workday. She was convicted in October of 2012 and sentenced to six months in jail, but that sentence was placed on hold while she appeals.
More than 26,000 emails are contained in the massive PDF files unsealed Wednesday.
They contain extensive communications between Rindfleisch and other top political aides to Walker. They are unlikely to reveal additional criminal wrongdoing, since prosecutors have had access to the messages for quite some time. However, the release of the documents is sure to place Governor Walker in the national spotlight at a time when the 2014 race for Wisconsin Governor is just beginning to heat up, and pundits suggest he may be entertaining a run for President in 2016.
In one email exchange, Rindfleisch was asked what she did for Scott Walker — and she replied “all policy.” However, these emails make it clear that her real job was almost all politics — as she was using her public position to advance Walker’s political career.
The emails shed new light on the John Doe investigation itself.
For example, Rindflesich’s home was searched the day before the 2010 election – as the investigation expanded.
In a court transcript, one investigator said he believed Walker “would appear to be aware” of a secret internet system his county employees used for campaign purposes.
In a later email from Cindy Archer to Rindfleisch, it appears Walker, who is referred to as “SKW” knew of the illegal campaign communications. Archer wrote: “I use this private account quite a bit to communicate with SKW.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Walker made one public appearance, where he spoke with FOX6 News an hour before the emails were released.
“I don’t know that there will be any great surprised beyond what they already talked about,” Gov. Walker said.
FOX6’s Mike Lowe: “What was the nature of any exchanges you might have had with Kelly Rindfleisch?”
“Again, that’s s several years ago. I’d have to go back and look. That’s not something I’ve looked at in the last several years. The bottom line is these are e-mail communications from someone who worked at the county – in some cases four to five years ago. I haven’t looked at them the last three years I’ve been governor, so most of them are four years old and they’ve gone through a legal process,” Gov. Walker told FOX6 News.
The John Doe investigation was closed in March of 2013.
Marquette University Political Science Professor John McAdams predicts minimal political damage for Gov. Walker as a result of the release of these emails.
“We’ve already seen one indictment and sentence come out of those e-mails. I think the bad news for Walker and the Walker campaign in those e-mails is now old news,” McAdams said.
Gov. Walker says he will go through the emails and so will his political opponents — mining thousands of pages for political purposes in the days to come.
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