Why did Brad Schimel forgo criminal charges against attorney who instructed client to destroy evidence in John Doe criminal investigation?

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.

Image via Christopher Wiesmueller's Facebook profile
Image via Christopher Wiesmueller’s Facebook profile
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?

Former Walker aide sentenced for illegal campaign activity on county time

It’s about time…

Darlene Wink made a tearful apology to Gov. Scott Walker Thursday during her sentencing for doing fundraising work for the governor while at her taxpayer-paid county job in 2009.

Wink, 62, was sentenced by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Konkol to a year’s probation, 50 hours of community service and $1,000 in fines. He also prohibited the longtime Republican political activist from taking part in any political activity other than voting for a year.

An emotional Wink offered an apology to the judge, “the taxpayers, my former boss and my friends and family” for her offenses. Her lawyer, Peter Wolff, said Wink was referring to Walker, whom he noted she greatly admires.

Wink, of Cudahy, was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of soliciting political donations for Walker while working at her courthouse job. She was Walker’s constituent services coordinator while he was Milwaukee County executive. She worked on two fundraising events for Walker while on the county clock in 2009, when Walker was a GOP candidate for governor.

The Consequences of Over-Denial

There’s a scene in what should be every Democrat’s favorite movie, All The President’s Men where Woodward and Bernstein are meeting with their editor, Howard Simons to talk about a conversation Woodward had with a PR guy from the White House press office.   Woodward found something funny in the way the guy responded.

This unnamed guy at the White House apparently denied more than was probably good for him.

Washington Post Managing Editor Howard Simons: Did you call the White House press office?
Bob Woodward: I went over there; I talked to them. They said Hunt hadn’t worked there for three months. Then a PR guy said this weird thing to me. He said, “I am convinced that neither Mr. Colson nor anyone else at the White House had any knowledge of, or participation in, this deplorable incident at the Democratic National Committee.”
Howard Simons: Isn’t that what you expect them to say?
Bob Woodward: Absolutely.
Howard Simons: So?
Bob Woodward: I never asked about Watergate. I simply asked what were Hunt’s duties at the White House.

This is why attorneys coach defendants and witnesses to listen to the question carefully and answer only the question that was asked.  This PR guy answered a question he had assumed had been asked.  Well, lighting does strike the GOP twice.  Apparently, Walker has stepped in the same stinky pile as that nameless White House press guy so many years ago.  This time, it’s an e-mail that may be his undoing.

Isn’t Walker exonerated by the email he sent to Tim Russell saying that no campaign work should be done by county staffers?

Instead of exonerating Walker, the email pretty much damns him.

Here’s what Walker wrote after it was revealed that his staffer Darlene Wink was posting pro-Walker Internet comments while working for the county: “No one can give them [the media] any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the work day, etc.”

Remember: It was reported that Darlene Wink was blogging while working for the county. There was no mention of laptops and other things. So why would Walker mention them?

And why would Walker send the email from his campaign account to Russell? At the time, Russell was working as the county’s director of housing. Why would Walker use his campaign email to deal with a county personnel matter? And why would he send it to his housing director?

When that e-mail was released, I had a sneaking suspicion that it would prove to be Walker’s undoing.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re still a long way from an indictment here, but based on that one e-mail, it’s clear that Walker was over-denying what was going on.

And that can only be a good thing for Democrats.

“Ignore the Public Comments”

If you take away anything from this next story, as egregious as it is, remember that line. That should be the mantel that the democrats use to prop up their republican counterparts in the upcoming election.

Now on to the story: JSonline delved into more detail regarding the republicans redistricting process. and the one word to describe this process: WOW!

First off, republicans had to SIGN Secrecy agreements:

Other newly released documents also show almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed…The agreement tells each lawmaker “you agree not to disclose the fact and/or contents of such discussions or any draft documents within your possession.”

All the agreements were also signed by Eric McLeod of Michael Best & Friedrich, one of several attorneys who advised lawmakers on the maps. Legislative leaders have committed $400,000 in taxpayer money to pay Michael Best and the Troupis Law Office for their work on the maps.

Quick aside: If the name Eric McLeod sounds familiar, he is the lawyer who bought Michael Gableman.

The republicans (specifically Adam Foltz, a legislative aide to Jeff Fitzgerald who helped draft the maps), where this gem was written.

“Public comments on this map may be different than what you hear in this room. Ignore the public comments,” the talking points also say.

Why whatever does that mean? Adam Foltz is no help, he had no idea he wrote them. Luckily we have people like attorney Peter Earle who tells us

it was clear from the case’s record that GOP lawmakers were being told to ignore what their leaders were saying publicly and to focus on what they said in private.

translation: the republicans will be lying in public but working on it behind the scenes. Do not believe anything they say.

This case was started in court in December when Mr. Foltz testified that the new maps were not meant to increase the GOP majority.

Foltz said those who developed the maps used election data from 2000 to 2010 in helping decide where to draw the lines. Yet the goal of the maps was not to increase the GOP’s advantage in elections, he testified.

Not sure Adam rally wants to perjure himself at such a young age to protect the Fitzgerald family. You are too young to start your career like this, Ask Tim Russell what trying to cover up for your boss gets you. Hopefully there is still time for Mr. Foltz to correct his story. Since we now know he is not telling the truth:

The new batch of records also includes memos from Foltz to Republican lawmakers telling them how GOP candidates performed in their districts under the new and old maps. In a deposition in December, Foltz testified the new maps were not meant to increase the GOP majority in the Legislature.

Of the 58 Republicans in the state Assembly at the time, 33 would pick up additional Republican voters. For instance, the district for freshman Rep. Mike Endsley (R-Sheboygan) would go from marginally to solidly Republican.

Those Republican representatives experiencing a drop in the number of Republican voters in their district under the redistricting plan would still have a strong Republican majority of voters. For instance, the district represented by Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) would still be about 60% Republican despite losing a share of its GOP bases under the redistricting plan.

Legal secrecy agreements, eric mcleod, Michael Best & Freidrich, only republicans allowed, new maps where it was broken down by republicans in the district, none of that was done politically? Yes if you believe that you will believe that Scott walker is voluntarily meeting with DA Chisholm.

As for Attorney Earle, here he is testifying at the joint public hearing on redistricting.

Two more Walker aides indicted – how many more will follow?

Another week, another set of indictments of aides to Scott Walker…

Two staffers who worked directly for Gov. Scott Walker while he was county executive were charged Thursday with illegally doing extensive political work while being paid by taxpayers to do county jobs.

One of the two, Darlene Wink, cut a deal with prosecutors under which she agreed to provide information in a related investigation about the destruction of digital evidence and to aid in further prosecutions. This is the first indication that the multifaceted John Doe investigation may be pursuing charges of evidence tampering.

Milwaukee County prosecutors also made the surprising disclosure that top Walker aides set up a private Internet network to allow them to communicate with one another by email about campaign as well as county government work without the public or co-workers’ knowledge.

Thus far we’ve seen two former Deputy Chiefs of Staff to Walker while he was Milwaukee County Executive be indicted, along with his Director of Constituent Services, leaving me to wonder who’s next to be indicted from Scott Walker’s inner circle during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive.

What’s more, I can’t help but wonder what crimes will be uncovered next by the John Doe investigation in Milwaukee County. Will we finally see charges related to long-rumored allegations of “pay to play” in Walker’s County Executive administration? If I were a betting man, that’d be where my money would be.

My prediction on the next two John Doe indictments

To say the ongoing John Doe investigation in Milwaukee County is getting awfully close to Republican Gov. Scott Walker would be an understatement.

Last year staunch Walker ally (and prodigous fundraiser) William Gardner was charged and ultimately convicted of two felonies relating to excessive and improper donations to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign.

Just a few weeks ago, longtime Walker aide and confidant Tim Russell was charged with multiple felonies he committed while in the employ of then-County Executive Walker, and at the time the charges against Russell were announced it was made clear the John Doe investigation was still ongoing.

So will we see any additional charges filed as a result of the John Doe investigation in Milwaukee County? I think the answer is yes, and if I were a betting man I’d wager the next set of charges will be filed against Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch. You’ll remember Wink as not only the former Vice President of the Republican Party of Milwaukee County, but also the constituent services coordinator for Walker when he was Milwaukee County Executive. Wink was outed for posted pro-Walker, anti-Mark Neumann & anti-Tom Barrett comments on JSOnline.com from Milwaukee County computers during her work hours.

While you may not have heard of Kelly Rindfleisch, she worked as the Deputy Chief of Staff in Walker’s County Executive office, and she also has ties to current Walker administration spokesperson Cullen Werwie, as both worked for the failed Lt. Governor campaign of Brett Davis in 2010. Werwie, you’ll remember, has been granted prosecutorial immunity in the ongoing John Doe investigation, and it will be interesting to see if his connection to Kelly Rindfleisch is more than just superficial.

Here’s a copy of Kelly Rindfleisch’s LinkedIn profile:

Capper over at Cognitive Dissidence has his own take on this that’s definitely worth a read.

Someone should tell Rick Esenberg there’s a difference between a crime and a non-crime

For being a licensed attorney, Rick Esenberg sure doesn’t seem to know the difference between a crime and a non-crime.

I understand that Chris “capper” Liebenthal has become a popular whipping boy for so many on the right who want to attack public employees, liberal bloggers, and public employees who happen to be liberal bloggers, due to the trumped-up complaint filed against Liebenthal by Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG), a pro-Scott Walker outfit, but let’s look at some cold hard facts.

Despite the complaint filed with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office by CRG, capper was found to have broken no laws. In fact, the CRG complaint was so laughable it cited blog entries Liebenthal made on days off, national holidays, and furlough days as “proof” he was engaging in illegal behavior.

On the other hand, Darlene Wink, who served as Scott Walker’s director of constituent services when he was Milwaukee County Executive, was found out to have been posting pro-Walker, anti-Mark Neumann blog comments on JSOnline, and it’s widely speculated Wink was behind “ScottForGov,” a pro-Walker blog. It was later learned Wink had been doing her pro-Walker blog commenting while on taxpayer time using Milwaukee County resources, and she’s thought to be one of the targets of a John Doe investigation along with former Walker aide Tim Russell.

While Cynthia Archer’s role in all of this has yet to be made public, it’s worth noting that the FBI never raided capper’s personal residence, nor did they seize his persona home computers/hard drives.

As Emily Mills noted, comparing capper to Cynthia Archer is like comparing apples to oranges.

capper himself has more on this.

Top Walker administration official takes indefinite leave of absence

According to a report by Steve Schultze of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cindy Archer, who currently serves as deputy secretary for the Department of Administration in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, has taken a “personal leave of absence” for an unspecified period of time.

During the last three years of Gov. Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive, Archer served as head of the county’s Division of Administrative Services, the county’s top staff job. That position put Archer in charge of the county budget, procurement, information technology and other matters.

I can’t help but wonder if the other shoe is finally going to drop in the “John Doe” investigation into the possibly illegal activities of former Walker staffers Darlene Wink and Tim Russell.

Milwaukee DA, GAB to announce results of “significant investigation” tomorrow?

It’s been speculated HERE and HERE that the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office will be holding a news conference at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 11 at the GAB office in Madison, with both sources speculating the press conference will discuss the results of a vote fraud investigation.

However, while those sources are speculating that the press conference will discuss vote fraud, I’ve got another idea on what the press conference will deal with.

My bet?

The results of the “significant investigation” that will be released today have to do with the investigation by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office into alleged illegal campaign work on the part of Tim Russell and Darlene Wink, both of whom worked in Scott Walker’s office during Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive. Both Russell and Wink have allegedly been under investigation by the Milwaukee County DA’s office due to allegations they engaged in illegal campaign work on behalf of Walker’s gubernatorial campaign from their County offices and on County time. Russell’s county-provided computer had previously been seized by the Milwaukee DA’s office, and if I remember correctly, Wink’s personal laptop may have been seized as well.

So while it certainly seems logical to assume the press conference tomorrow will deal with some sort of vote fraud investigation, unless said investigation has uncovered massive, widespread vote fraud, such an investigation doesn’t seem significant enough to warrant a joint press conference in Madison.