A series of developments unfolded last week in the ongoing John Doe investigation of bureaucrats who allegedly did campaign work and fundraising while working under Gov. Scott Walker during his time as Milwaukee County executive.
On Friday, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin said in a statement that they had obtained Milwaukee County personnel records demonstrating Walker “alone signed off” on hiring Kelly Rindfleisch and promoting her to his deputy chief of staff, as well as hiring Tim Russell, another aide charged as part of the John Doe investigation.
According to the statement, released court documents from the investigation have said Rindfleisch claimed Walker’s office hired her to do work on Walker’s campaign under Russell. The statement also said the documents show Walker’s chief of staff was unaware of the hiring’s circumstances.
The statement said the documents the party obtained prove Walker was responsible for both hiring and promoting Rindfleisch.
“The chief of staff didn’t know anything about it,” said Graeme Zielinski, DPW spokesperson. “Scott Walker has for months evaded the question of who hired Kelly Rindfleisch.”
Walker’s campaign did not return requests for comment.
On Thursday, Rindfleisch’s attorneys submitted an appeal to the state of Wisconsin Court of Appeals requesting her trial be held in Columbia County instead of Milwaukee County where she is currently being prosecuted.
After losing a prior appeal in the county circuit court, Rindfleisch, who has been charged with four felony counts of misconduct in public office, maintains she was never a permanent resident of Milwaukee County and should not be tried there.
“Rindfleisch asks this Court for an immediate review of the circuit court’s non-final decision denying her motion to dismiss for improper venue,” the appeal reads. “Rindfleisch is a Colombia county resident and her trial should be venued in that county.”
According to the appeal, Rindfleisch’s previous appeal was denied because she rented a home in Milwaukee County.
On Wednesday, former Waukesha county District Attorney Paul Bucher sent a letter to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requesting the Department of Justice play a more active role in the investigations, if not take them over completely.
Bucher said he believes the John Doe investigation has leaked too much information and abused the rights and reputations of individuals he named who have not been prosecuted.
“John Doe is targeting individuals,” Bucher said. “With all of the leaks, the public perception of the process is jeopardized. We want the public to believe that it’s a fair proceeding.”
In an email to The Badger Herald, DOJ spokesperson Dana Brueck said the department does not have the legal authority to take investigations away from district attorneys.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said in a statement that Van Hollen initially helped the investigation until it began investigating Walker’s former aides.
According to the statement, Van Hollen said he could not continue in the case because of a conflict of interest, as he represents Walker legally. Chisholm said he respected the decision and subsequently turned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to aid in the investigation.
“While I am informed that the attorney general has this morning declined any renewed involvement in this investigation, he is welcome to once again participate at any time he deems appropriate,” Chisholm said in the statement.
Note: This article has been corrected to fix a typo. The article misquoted the appeal as reading “circuit court’s non-final denying her motion” when it should have read “circuit court’s non-final decision denying her motion.” The Badger Herald regrets the error.