A former county-level staffer for Gov. Scott Walker pleaded guilty to two felony charges on Tuesday as the ongoing 20-month investigation into Walker’s former campaign staff continues.
Darlene Wink, a former Milwaukee County employee under Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County Executive, entered a guilty plea for two felony charges of soliciting political contributions while working in a county office, her attorney, Peter Wolff, said.
Wolff said the charges involved her sending emails and communicating with the Milwaukee Republican Party for fundraising events and creating flyers for fundraising events for Walker’s campaign.
As part of the plea, the District Attorney John Chisholm’s office will not recommend jail time in its charges, as long as Wink continues to cooperate in the other ongoing John Doe investigations, Wolff said.
Wink faces a $1,000 dollar fine plus court costs and six months in jail for each misdemeanor. As such, she could serve up to a year in prison, Wolff said.
“It is now up to [Circuit Judge Daniel Konkol] to accept the guilty plea and to impose any penalties he sees as appropriate,” Wolff said.
On Monday, Walker told reporters Chisholm asked to meet with him to discuss the contents of emails his campaign gave them.
Walker said in a statement Friday he is planning to voluntarily meet Chisholm and his office has fully cooperated with the John Doe investigation. However, he did not say whether the D.A.’s office initially contacted him.
After the announcement, liberal advocacy groups renewed accusations of Walker hiding facts about the John Doe investigation from the public.
“It is becoming increasingly evident to the people of Wisconsin that Scott Walker’s attempts to obfuscate the facts surrounding the John Doe probe is tumbling like a house of cards,” United Wisconsin spokesperson Erik Kirkstein said in an email to The Badger Herald. United Wisconsin is one of the groups that led recall efforts.
Kirkstein said with Darlene Wink’s guilty plea for illegal campaign fundraising and Chisholm’s request, Walker has been hiding facts from the public.
“The people of Wisconsin deserve honesty and transparency from our elected officials, not charades and smokescreens,” Kirkstein said. “We expect in the coming weeks for the details of Scott Walker’s level of involvement to emerge. Wisconsin deserves it.”
Mike Browne, spokesperson for One Wisconsin Now, a liberal advocacy group, said Walker has had to backtrack because of his actions and he put out a release late Friday when much of the press could not contact him to control the issue. He said he believes a pattern is developing of Walker misrepresenting serious actions.
He also said Walker has hired two high-powered criminal defense attorneys from Milwaukee and Chicago. He said Walker could be paying close to $1,000 an hour for these attorneys.
“This is a very serious issue,” Browne said. “Regardless of his public statements, he’s privately very concerned.”
The John Doe probe into Walker’s previous administration has resulted in charges being brought against five former Walker employees, including Wink. Two other Walker employees face charges for embezzlement. Kelly Rindfleisch, a former deputy chief of staff for Walker, faces four charges of misconduct in office.