Daily Updates

February 23, 2014

Searching Walker emails is the rage in Wisconsin

Political operatives from across the spectrum are scouring the thousands of emails exchanged by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign staff and those who worked for him when he was Milwaukee County executive, trying to find items they can use to attack or defend the state’s most polarizing figure.

Liberals and conservatives alike have been hunting through the 28,000 pages of documents for their names, as well as the names of political friends and enemies.

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane said it was “like winning the lottery” for people doing opposition research on Walker.

American Bridge 21st Century, a political action committee funded by liberal billionaire George Soros, said it assembled a team of researchers to pore over the emails and post what it finds on a specially created website.

Joe Fadness, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party and one of those named in the emails, criticized American Bridge while refusing to say whether the GOP was undertaking its own review of the documents.

“American Bridge is a desperate attack group funded by billionaire George Soros with the single goal of misleading voters,” Fadness said. “While they focus their time on distorted attacks, Republicans under Governor Scott Walker will continue moving Wisconsin forward.”

The emails were collected during a criminal investigation into whether Walker’s aides were illegally doing campaign work for the 2010 election while being paid as county employees.

The files include thousands of messages to and from Walker as well as key members of his county office and campaign inner circle. They offer a rare insiders’ look into both Walker and the daily operations of his gubernatorial campaign.

Walker wasn’t charged in the investigation, but it continues to shadow him. The email release is proving to be an unwanted distraction as he mounts his re-election campaign and eyes a possible 2016 run for president.

“This is old news,” Walker said Saturday at the National Governors Association meeting, adding the interest in emails is “a lot of hype from our opponents who desperately want to shift the subject away because we have good results.”

The governor was targeted in a 2012 recall election prompted by anger over his 2011 law that eliminated collective bargaining for most public employees.

More than 900,000 people signed the recall petition, and their signatures have been posted online in a database now used to vet political candidates, elected officials, co-workers, and sometimes even friends. Last summer, Walker rescinded the appointment of a University of Wisconsin-Platteville student to the UW Board of Regents after the student confirmed he had signed the recall petition.

The email release has sparked similar interest, with the added pull that it includes Walker’s supporters as well as opponents and, in some cases, snarky comments about those individuals.

Democratic and Republican staffers and lobbyists whose jobs require them to work with Walker told The Associated Press they had searched for their names, but they wouldn’t admit it publicly because they didn’t want to jeopardize their relationship with the governor.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said he hadn’t yet searched for his name but knew plenty of people who had. He also expected that Republicans were searching the documents just as avidly.

“They are searching to spin the next little bomb that comes out,” he said.

Erpenbach’s name does appear in the emails but only in news articles that were forwarded to staffers.

In contrast, a number of emails contain unkind remarks about Mike Tate, the Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman. In one email, Kelly Rindfleisch, who was then Walker’s deputy chief of staff, joked to Walker’s campaign manager about wanting to take Tate out.

“How do you not blow a nut with all the lies that the democrats put out,” wrote Rindfleisch, who was later convicted of doing campaign work on county time. “It makes me wanna get Villa’s uncle mike to make mike tate disappear.”

Tate, who took the message in stride, said it is indicative of the kind of culture Walker created in his office.

“This opens a door into how Scott Walker’s world operates, and it’s pretty repugnant,” Tate said.

 

1
Text Only
Daily Updates
  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 19, 2014

  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall

    Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims.

    April 19, 2014

  • Captain of sunken SKorean ferry, 2 crew arrested

    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

    April 19, 2014

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats

    As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

    April 19, 2014

  • Delay won’t quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL

    Democrats sweating this year’s elections may be hoping that the Obama administration’s latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.

    April 19, 2014

  • In Other News, April 19

    April 19, 2014

  • 5 features an Amazon phone might offer

    A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

    April 19, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors

    With an expanded field of runners and the memory of last year’s bombings elevating interest in one of the world’s great races, the 2014 Boston Marathon could bring an unprecedented wave of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars to the area.

    April 19, 2014

  • Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

    All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway.

    April 19, 2014