As reported by Bruce Murphy of Urban Milwaukee, a source has indicated an internet/email system was in place in Gov. Walker’s gubernatorial offices to allow his staff to do “off the books” campaign work on government time. Such a system would be remarkably similar (if not identical) to a system in place in Walker’s County Executive office. It’s worth noting that Gov. Walker has not given a straight answer on whether he knew or didn’t know about the system in place in his County Executive office – leaving many to speculate that his unwillingness to issue a flat denial means he did in fact know of the system.
Bruce Murphy’s report that such a system was in place in Gov. Walker’s gubernatorial offices is absolutely unsurprising, because there have been rumors (although unprovable) that such a system was in place and being used by Gov. Walker’s staff.
We now know his county executive office had staff members campaigning on government time and a private email system they used to keep these activities secret, protected from any public records requests. Walker has refused to say whether he knew of or personally used the secret email system, but in some of the emails he appears to be aware of it. So why would he and his staff have changed how they operated once he became governor?
I spoke to a source who was a close observer of the governor’s staff in the state Capitol and who attended numerous meetings with staff. The source describes a system that seemed designed, as the county executive’s office was, to enable staff to do work on government time and evade public records request of any such campaigning, by using personal laptops and gmail accounts.
The source saw “probably half a dozen staff members” who had personal laptops at their desk, including Walker’s personal scheduler Dorothy Moore and his trusted lieutenant Keith Gilkes, both of whom had worked for him at the county. This included gubernatorial staff on the second floor of the East Wing and some in the so-called “Policy Pit” on the first floor below this, where policy analysts for the governor worked.
“When you work for the state you get a state-issued desktop computer. Why would you be working on a laptop?”
The source also says a number of Walker’s staff had private email accounts — all using gmail addresses — by which they communicated with each other. The staff was told, the source says, to always use the gmail address of staff to discuss anything political.
That would be fine if the discussions were off the state clock, but on a weekly basis, the source says, the staff had campaign meetings — not just meetings about campaign scheduling, which would be legal, but about campaign strategy.
What’s absolutely farcical is that while Gov. Walker has issued public statements suggesting he has been more diligent than some past governors about observing the line between campaign work and government work, it would appear his gubernatorial staff have been hard at work blurring that line in such a way as to avoid public oversight.