More than 28,000 pages of documents were released Wednesday in the closed John Doe investigation into a number of then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s aides.
The John Doe probe — which did not bring charges against Walker but did lead to convictions against four of his staffers while he was county executive — expanded the day before Walker’s 2010 election as governor, the new documents show.
Another key finding in the newly released documents includes an email from Walker administration director Cindy Archer to deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch. Pending her appeal, Rindfleisch was sentenced to six months in prison and three years probation for campaigning on county time for former Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, a lieutenant governor candidate who is now the state’s Medicaid director.
In that email, Archer said she used the private wireless system that had been set up in the county office often.
“Consider yourself now in the ‘inner circle’. I use this private account quite a bit to communicate with SKW and Nardelli. You should be sure you check it throughout the day,” Archer wrote to Rindfleisch.
Although many of the documents had already been public, the ones released Wednesday came after a court ruled that most of the John Doe documents could be released since the probe had concluded.
Democrats pounced on the emails, suggesting that Walker knew about the wireless system.
But according to the Associated Press, Walker told reporters just before the documents’ release that Democrats would inevitably try to spin the new emails for political gain and said he was not worried about what the documents would show.
“These people are naysayers who want things bad to happen in Wisconsin, so they are going to be circling again today,” Walker said. “It’s exactly what’s wrong with the political process that they’re hoping for something bad to happen in Wisconsin. It’s not. They’re going to do what they’ve done in the past which is over-hype things. And politically they’re going to be disappointed.”
Following a fundraising event in Madison on Wednesday, Democratic National Committee Chair and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, spoke to reporters on a conference call to address the documents’ release.
Schultz and Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate both said they found it hard to believe Walker could have been out of the loop regarding the “unethical” and illegal activities taking place in his office.
“Every released document has only served to reinforce that Walker has been aware of this criminal activity since at least May of 2010,” Tate said. “If Walker continues to surround himself with the very same bad actors, that to me suggests an environment where these crimes were not only accepted but they were encouraged.”
Walker, who will likely face Democrat Mary Burke in his reelection race later this year, is widely considered a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, and the news drew coverage from national media outlets.
Another John Doe probe could implicate Walker’s campaign and numerous conservative groups during the 2012 recall elections. But conservatives have characterized that new probe, initiated by the same Democratic Milwaukee County district attorney, as a politically-motivated witch hunt aimed at silencing conservative voices ahead of the 2014 elections.