As the hearing date for the upcoming trial of Gov. Scott Walker’s former aide, Kelly Rindfleisch, approaches, speculation continues regarding whether the hearing will have any bearing on the outcome of the national election this fall.
The hearing for Rindfleisch, who was deputy chief of staff in 2010 while Walker was Milwaukee County Executive, is scheduled for October 15, where Walker will be a witness to the trial.
Walker is one of the 36 witnesses who will be called to testify, according to Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin.
Franklyn Gimbel, the attorney for Rindfleisch’s case, tried appealing the case and requested certain evidence to be barred from the case.
Gimbel said he filed an interlocutory appeal, meaning the approval of a judge was needed to remove the evidence from the case. This approval was not granted, and Gimbel said he does not know why.
Gimbel said he wants to be clear this does not mean that Walker is being accused in the case.
“I wouldn’t use the word implicated,” Gimbel said. “Scott Walker will be a witness to the trial.”
According to Heck, Rindfleisch was criminally charged for campaigning for State Rep. Brett Davis, who had been the GOP’s first choice for Lieutenant Governor, not Rebecca Kleefisch.
Heck said employees are not allowed to engage in partisan political fundraisers while Milwaukee is paying taxes for his or her salary. Heck added Rindfleisch is the second deputy chief of staff arrested under sworn oath.
Heck described Rindfleisch as one of the people that was “very close to Walker,” referring to the location of their offices. Walker’s office was just feet away from Rindfleisch while she was engaging in criminal activity, Heck pointed out.
Rindfleisch denies Walker knew anything about her illicit campaigning, but Heck said until the testimonies of the 36 witnesses have been heard and there is a verdict, one can only speculate.
Heck said this is reminiscent of the trial 10 years ago pertaining to the legislative caucus. Heck said that case, like Rindfleisch’s, involved illegal fundraising and that the case led to criminal charges of the legislators for whom the money was being raised.
“I’m not saying that Walker is going to be charged, but I am saying that the public should take this very seriously. It can’t be said yet that Walker had nothing to do with it,” Heck said.
Heck went on to say the timing of this trial is inconvenient for the GOP, as it will occur less than a month before the national elections.
Mike McCabe, the executive director for the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said he highly doubts any part of the trial will have implications for the election in November.
McCabe said he has a hard time imagining the actions of one of Walker’s former aide will have any bearing on who Wisconsinites will choose to lead their country or represent them in the Senate.
But McCabe said he does think this trial could cause Walker to lose support in the long run. He also pointed out Walker is not up for reelection until 2014, so this trial does not have any immediate effect.
“The case will work its way through the legal system,” McCabe said. “It’s not over yet, and the results are anyone’s guess. But this could affect Walker’s re-election.”