In 2010 the Milwaukee County John Doe investigation first came to light after Darlene Wink, a former aide to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, was charged and later convicted of political solicitation involving public officials and employees after she was caught using her taxpayer-provided County computer to do political work for Walker.
Shortly after the allegations against Darlene Wink were made public, attorney Christopher Wiesmueller (pictured, right) emailed Darlene Wink and offered to represent her pro bono in her pending criminal case. According to this public reprimand of Wiesmueller by the Office of Lawyer Regulation, Wiesmueller knew Wink from his prior service for the Republican Party of Milwaukee County.
Soon after his initial contact with Wink, Wiesmueller met with her to discuss her case, and during that meeting Wiesmueller advised Wink to remove all evidence related to her political activity from her computer, including computer files and emails. Wiesmueller also offered to assist Wink with the removal of the evidence from her laptop computer, so Wink left the laptop at Wiesmueller’s office and Wiesmueller subsequently deleted the files from the computer and downloaded software to “wipe” the information from the computer.
Fast-forward to November 2011, when Wiesmueller and Wink met with the John Doe prosecutor and investigator regarding the investigation into the misappropriation of funds from a program created to honor veterans by Walker aide Tim Russell. During that meeting, Wink’s political fundraising activities were discussed, and after being informed that the investigation showed emails relevant to the investigation had been deleted from Wink’s computer, Wink was asked if anyone had helped her destroy evidence. While Wink denied having any help, attorney Wiesmueller admitted to the prosecutor that he had advised Wink to delete the evidence, but Wiesmueller did not admit at that time to his role in performing the deletion of emails and the “wiping” of Wink’s computer.
Based upon Wiesmueller’s statements, the prosecutor obtained a search warrant for Wiesmueller’s law office. At the investigator’s request, Wiesmueller came to the office and was present during the execution of the search warrant. Wiesmueller provided the investigator with copies of the material that Wiesmueller had copied from his client’s computer. In the course of providing this information, Wiesmueller revealed the content of his discussions with his client during their initial conference and offered his impression to the investigator that the computer files and emails were “the most damning things.” Wiesmueller reiterated that he told his client “to get rid of” the evidence. He did not admit that he deleted the information from the client’s computer.
Following the execution of the search warrant at his law office, Wiesmueller terminated his representation of the client. The client and her successor counsel met with the prosecutor and his investigator. In exchange for providing information about Wiesmueller’s role in the destruction of evidence from the client’s computer, the client was offered immunity from prosecution as a result of any information she provided in that regard. The client stated that she left her computer with Wiesmueller and that it was Wiesmueller who had deleted her emails and removed the evidence from her computer.
As the public reprimand of Christopher Wiesmueller notes, his destruction of evidence pertaining to Darlene Wink’s criminal activity was referred to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office for further action, but Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel agreed to a deal forgoing criminal charges against Wiesmueller (emphasis added).
The prosecutor referred the matter of Wiesmueller’s destruction of evidence to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office as the alleged crime had been committed at Wiesmueller’s law office located in Waukesha County. The Waukesha County District Attorney agreed to forego filing criminal charges against Wiesmueller provided he made a thorough and complete report of his conduct to the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Wiesmueller reported his conduct to OLR in July of 2012. He did not incur any criminal sanctions as a result of his conduct in destroying the digital evidence of his client’s crimes.
So what I’d like to know is why Brad Schimel decided not to pursue charges against fellow Republican Christopher Wiesmueller after Wiesmueller destroyed evidence that would implicate his client in an ongoing criminal investigation?