Longtime aide to Scott Walker charged with 2 felony counts of embezzlement

Image courtesy JSOnline.com/Gary Porter
Earlier today, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced felony charges have been filed against three individuals – including a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker – as part of the ongoing John Doe investigation into Walker staffers.

Among those charged was Tim Russell (pictured at right along with Scott Walker and alleged pedophile Brian Pierick), a longtime Walker campaign staffer and aide in Walker’s County Executive administration. Russell was charged with two felony counts of embezzlement and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement, charges stemming from allegations Russell stole over $21,000 in funds that had been raised in support of Operation Freedom, an annual military appreciation day held at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

In what can only be categorized as a terse (and very brief) conference call with reporters earlier today, Gov. Walker issued a brief statement saying he was “extremely disappointed” with the allegations against Russell, who Walker had appointed to serve as Milwaukee County’s Director of Housing during Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County Executive. However, when asked how close he was to Russell, Walker referred to Russell as “Mr. Russell” without expanding on how close a relationship he and Russell may have had, a fact that’s curious given that Walker must have a close relationship with Russell, based on the length of time Russell had worked closely with Walker, both on Walker’s campaigns and in the County Executive’s office.

During the same conference call, Walker was asked twice to explain why he chose in 2009 to transfer control over the funds raised for Operation Freedom from the Alonzo Cudworth American Legion Post 23 to the Heritage Guard Preservation Society, an organization controlled by Tim Russell. In response to those question, Walker indicated control of the funds was transferred to the group controlled by Russell because of allegations of financial improprieties with the previous group that had control of the funds, however according to the criminal complaint filed against Russell, there were no allegations of financial impropriety leveled against American Legion Post 23.

What’s more, Walker asserted he did not know Tim Russell was involved with the Heritage Guard Preservation Society, but as seen clearly on Page 7 of the criminal complaint, Walker as County Eexecutive co-signed a “Memorandum of Agreement” giving the Heritage Guard Preservation Society control over the operation of the event called Operation Freedom, including that event’s funding. While Walker denied any knowledge of Russell’s involvement with the Heritage Guard Preservation Society, the “Memorandum of Agreement” County Executive Walker signed handing over control of Operation Freedom was co-signed by Tim Russell in his capacity as President of the Heritage Guard Preservation Society, so it’s hard to believe Scott Walker didn’t know Tim Russell was involved with that group.

Despite Gov. Walker’s attempt to spin today’s criminal charges involving one of his close former aides, he left more questions unanswered than he actually resolved.


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24 thoughts on “Longtime aide to Scott Walker charged with 2 felony counts of embezzlement

  1. Ooh, good catch on the lies. The arbitrary moving of the HGPS to Russell’s control when he worked for Walker is the big red flag here- why would Scotty care about this, unless it could allow Timmy to use the cash for something other than Operation Freedom.

    As I said to Capper, this feels like 1 strand leading to a giant ball of string.

  2. And you failed to mention it was walker who brought the missing money to the attention of the da. Also it wasn’t walker stealing this money. It was someone who worked for him at least until he found out he was stealing money.

    1. Who said that Walker stole the money? Not I…

      As for who brought the problem to the attention of the authorities, let’s talk about how Scott Walker signed a memo giving Tim Russell control over the money in the first place. If Walker doesn’t give his longtime aide a sweetheart deal (not to mention access to tens of thousands of dollars), we likely aren’t having this conversation.

    2. Jorge- You’re lying again. If you actually read the complaint, it’s Tom Nardelli who tells the DA that money is missing when Kavanaugh is running things in 2008, but Walker did NOTHING ELSE and kept these guys on the payroll at these events. In fact, Walker gave Russell the job of handling the Operation Freedom money in 2009 after taking it away from the American Legion (why? Cronyism? Money-funneling?)…and then Russell started stealing his money in 2010.

      In fact, there’s a great J-S article in 2010 that promotes Operation Freedom where Russell (who Walker hired to be in charge of this after taking it away from the America Legion) says the missing money might be a “bookkeeping error”, and Kavanaugh is quoted as saying he knows little about it.

      The real heroes is the Milwaukee County DA’s office, who used John Doe information they uncovered to combine with previous information they had on the Operation Freedom thefts, and nailed these thieves. This right-wing lie of “Walker was ethical and helpful” is simply not true if you read the complaint.

    1. I’ll add more exclamation points for every new indictment that’s leveled against someone associated with Scott Walker.

  3. Walker really mis-handled his message. He could have shown outrage and sorrow over having been so severely betrayed by a man he trusted, thus gaining sympathy and inoculating himself from anything Russell may say to investigators. Instead he’s trying to pretend he barely knew the guy, when their past professional connections, and Walker’s obvious trust of Russell, are well-documented. What an idiot.

  4. I’ve been out of the loop, so am shocked at the resulting subject of the charges. Expecting campaign / campaign finance violations or something, which would be one thing. But stealing from veterans?! Was this anticipated?

    Jeebus! So despicable.

    1. I don’t know that this was anticipated, but it’s been widely speculated that the John Doe investigation has gotten much larger than anyone anticipated, because from what I’ve heard they’ve found out about more potentially illegal activity as they investigated the initial alleged illegal activity.

      Either way, the fact that we’re now finding out about stuff like this as “collateral damage” to the John Doe investigation is certainly telling about what kind of operation Scott Walker was running. As “the boss” the buck should stop with him, so hopefully he’ll start to be called out for associating with/enabling these kinds of people.

  5. What does it say about Walker’s judgment and character that he surrounded himself with alleged crooks and pedophiles? Is he really that stupid?

  6. The alleged pedophile was not under the employ of walker. He was the liberal boyfriend of a walker aid. As for the aid and the other person that were actually employed in the walker administration it is amazing how you failed to mention it was walker who brought it to the da to investigate once they noticed money missing.
    I will point out that mater tom Barret and the DA MISTER CHISIM have both had employees that were both accused and convicted of crimes while they worked for them. Does that imply that they are part of those crimes to. What about coach mike mcarthy? He has an alleged girlfriend abuser on his staff. Does that mean it is the coaches fault? You guys are amazing.

    1. Jorge, you’re going to need to cite some evidence that Brian Pierick was a liberal, because the photo I used above is a photo of Tim Russell, Scott Walker, and Brian Pierick unloading some “Walker for County Executive” signs from a vehicle.

      What’s more, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s campaign finance database, Pierick donated $250 to Scott Walker in 2005.

  7. This guy Pierick was all over FB on pro Walker pages during these last few years. He also was friends with some very big mouth conservative bloggers. I can’t help but wonder how many times the conservative bloggers were going off information given to them by this insider Pierick. Ick.

    1. Ick is exactly right. Not surprisingly, many of the conservative blogs are already spinning yesterday’s developments as “no big deal” and that they don’t reflect on Walker at all.

  8. Also…I’d bet some money that he was actually personal friends with some of those bloggers. One comes to mind. I’m wondering if the DA has any more information on Pierick’s computer use. Maybe he also used a screen name “Gus/Mickey”….

  9. The coverage says “Russell did not follow Walker” after Walker was elected Governor. It’s true that Russell did not continue in the employ of the Walker administration. But he did follow Walker to the Madison area, moving to Sun Prairie with Pierick. Why? Did he anticipate getting a job at the Capitol? Was he just unable to stay away from Walker? Pierick’s two-bit DPI job wouldn’t account for the move and the new house.

    1. It’s my understanding that part of the reason for the move to the Madison area could be because the house Pierick and Russell owned in Milwaukee was foreclosed on.

  10. A gay conservative?, a politician who actually turned in a longtime employee?, criminals being held accountable for their actions? What is this state coming to?
    More reasons to be supportive of Walker.

    1. Scott Walker didn’t turn in a longtime employee; his chief of staff reported possible theft to the authorities without knowing who might have committed the theft.

      There’s a big difference.

  11. Sorry, I forgot that according to you anyone with an R behind their name could not possibly be smart enough to figure anything out.
    Explain to me why Walker didn’t give Russell a job in Madison? I suppose that was just dumb luck.
    Or is it as much of a coincidence as the many school districts dropping the overpriced WEA trust insurance the minute the teachers had to start paying for a portion of it out of their pocket.

    1. Tbag, Walker himself said on his conference call with reporters yesterday that he didn’t know anything about Tim Russell having embezzled that money until the charges were announced by the DA yesterday.

      Granted, Scott Walker’s word is shit, so I wouldn’t believe a word he says, but he said it – not me.

      Nice try though!

  12. Quite a coincidence that Walker couldn’t find a position in his administration for a so called “top aide” with whom he “worked closely” and had a “close relationship” with, yet could not possibly have known it was this “close personal friend” when he took the case to the DA. So why didn’t he give Russell a job?

    1. If you want to know why Scott Walker didn’t offer Tim Russell a job, you should ask Scott Walker.

      But again, I’ll repeat what SCOTT WALKER HIMSELF said yesterday on a conference call with reporters. Walker said he had no knowledge of Russell’s embezzlement at the time the missing money was reported to the DA’s office, nor did he know about the charges against Russell until the DA announced them.

      Those are Scott Walker’s own words, but I can understand if you don’t believe him, because Walker is a shady fellow.

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