A second former staffer of Gov. Scott Walker has reached a guilty plea deal with prosecutors that would be finalized Thursday in court pending approval from the judge.
Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker’s deputy chief of staff when he was Milwaukee County executive, agreed with the prosecution she would plead guilty to four felony counts of illegally campaigning on state time.
Milwaukee County Court records show Rindfleisch was scheduled to appear in a jury trial Monday, but those records are now updated to show a plea hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The charges she faces are connected to her campaigning for Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Brett Davis, a former state representative from Oregon who is now the state’s top Medicaid official.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said Rindfleisch agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their ongoing John Doe investigation, which has been focused on Walker’s county executive office.
Ross emphasized Rindfleisch was one of Walker’s top aides, which may reflect badly on him.
“We’ll have to see what the plea deal was and what that cooperation is,” Ross said. “A cloud remains under Gov. Walker. I don’t know how this could be considered good news for Walker.”
The plea deal is not unexpected, according to Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck.
Heck noted plea deals, which lessen the punishment for the accused, are done in return for further information on superiors. Because of this, he said Walker is likely not “off the hook.”
Walker was subpoenaed Monday as a witness for the trial, but if the judge agrees to the plea deal Thursday, Heck said he would no longer need to testify in front of the jury.
“This means the investigation continues,” Heck said. “This moves the investigation up the ladder. Kelly Rindfleisch was not the main target.”
Prosecutors said a secret email system was installed in Rindfleisch’s office that was tied to campaigning. Working on a campaign while being paid by government funds, in this case Milwaukee County, is a felony.
The maximum time Rindfleisch could spend in prison because of her felonies is six years, a number that will now likely decrease.
The probe is an extensive look into Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County executive.
One staffer, Darlene Wink, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor offenses earlier this year for asking for campaign contributions while being paid by the county. She sent emails and made flyers for Walker campaign events.
Franklyn Gimbel, Rindfleisch’s lawyer, and Walker campaign spokesperson Tom Evenson were not available for comment.