the Milwaukee County Scandal Timeline
(2008 – 2012)
January 1, 2008 ·
Financial discrepancies discovered involving the handling of Operation Freedom funds. At the time, the funds were under the control of a chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, whose treasurer was a Walker appointee to a county veterans committee, Kevin Kavanaugh.
January 1, 2009 ·
Russell was promoted to Walker’s deputy chief of staff from a lesser position in Walker’s office.
February 1, 2009 ·
Because of the concerns over the Purple Heart’s work, Walker transferred the treasurer duties to the Cudworth Legion Post.
June 1, 2009 ·
In mid-2009, Walker’s county chief of staff, Tom Nardelli, asks the DA to investigate $11,000 missing from the Operation Freedom account, after unsuccessfully being able to rectify the missing money with the Milwaukee Order of the Purple Heart who was responsible for managing the funds. Darlene Wink, a Walker staffer then in charge of Operation Freedom, had earlier raised concerns within Walker’s staff.
August 1, 2009 ·
Todd Hunter — a lawyer who helped set up Heritage Guard in 2004 as an advocate for preservation of historic buildings on the VA grounds — turned over control of the nonprofit organization to Russell. Walker transferred about $19,000 in Operation Freedom funds to Heritage Guard, as well as control of its finances. The Walker and Russell memo transferred the “ownership, responsibility and operation” of Operation Freedom to Heritage Guard, which the memo said “had expressed a desire to administer, manage and continue this worthwhile event.” Walker terminated the county’s agreement with the Cudworth Legion Post, which had managed the funds in exemplary fashion, the complaint says. The memo said Walker agreed to serve as the chairman of the advisory committee that was to be created for Operation Freedom. After that point, Russell actively raised private funds for the event. County executive office employees processed donation payments into a Heritage Guard account that Russell controlled, the complaint says.
January 20, 2010 ·
Kelly Rindfleisch hired as an ‘Administrative Secretary, Policy Advisor’ in Walker’s county office.
January 25, 2010 ·
According to the criminal complaint, Rindfleisch communicates to friend that there’s a secret network in Walker’s office, she takes direction from Russell and does half policy for the ‘campaign.’
January 25, 2010 ·
Rindfleisch begins fundraising for the Brett Davis for Lieutentant Governor campaign, being paid $1,000/ month while still working in the county executive’s office.
March 15, 2010 ·
Rindfleisch promoted to deputy chief of staff after Walker appoints Russell to Milwaukee County Housing Director.
April 19, 2010 ·
Stacey Long, former girlfriend of William Gardner, president of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, reports to the Government Accountability Board that Gardner asked her to contribute $10,000 to Walker using Gardner’s money.
May 10, 2010 ·
The GAB begins its investigation into the Gardner donations.
May 13, 2010 ·
Darlene Wink, constituent services coordinator for Walker and an official with the Republican Party of Milwaukee County, resigns from her county job after admitting she posted political, pro-Walker comments on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website while at work. Darlene Wink, constituent services coordinator for Walker and an official with the Republican Party of Milwaukee County, resigns from her county job after admitting she posted political, pro-Walker comments on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website while at work. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm launches a secret John Doe investigation appearing to target at-work campaign activity by staff members of Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.
May 18, 2010 ·
Walker returns all of the Gardner-related contributions, and Gardner donates them to charity after publicly accepting responsibility.
July 12, 2010 ·
Rindfleisch resigns from the Davis campaign, emails Walker campaign manager Keith Gilkes about it.
July 29, 2010 ·
Two Wisconsin & Southern employees receive immunity from prosecution in the John Doe. They admit giving thousands of dollars to Walker’s campaign for which they were illegally reimbursed by Gardner or the company.
August 20, 2010 ·
Authorities seize the work computer of Tim Russell, then-Milwaukee County housing administrator and former Walker campaign aide. Russell and Wink, whose work computer also is seized, are active in the county Republican Party.
November 1, 2010 ·
Walker’s county and campaign offices are searched by the DA.
November 2, 2010 ·
Walker is elected governor over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
November 12, 2010 ·
Rindfleisch leaves her county job and is put on the Republican Party’s payroll to raise money for Walker according to the criminal complaint filed against her. She continues to raise money for Walker through mid-January 2012.
November 19, 2010 ·
Four more Wisconsin & Southern employees receive immunity from prosecution.
December 21, 2010 ·
Rose Ann Dieck, a fundraiser for Walker and high-ranking official with the Milwaukee County Republicans, is granted immunity from prosecution by the court in the John Doe investigation.
January 14, 2011 ·
Three more Wisconsin & Southern employees testify under immunity grants, including company lobbyist Ken Lucht .
April 11, 2011 ·
Gardner is charged in Washington County with two felonies for making at least $72,800 in illegal campaign contributions to Walker and other candidates dating back to 2003. Gardner agrees to pay a $166,900 civil forfeiture, the largest in GAB history. Seven Wisconsin & Southern employees pay $250 fines.
April 14, 2011 ·
Walker’s chief spokesman and former campaign worker, Cullen Werwie, is offered immunity from prosecution. His testimony, which is not related to the Gardner matter, remains sealed.
July 7, 2011 ·
Gardner is sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to both counts. He faced up to seven years in prison.
July 18, 2011 ·
Tom Nardelli, former chief of staff under Walker in Milwaukee County, is named administrator of the state Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services but quits his new $90,000-a-year job three days later. Nardelli joined the state Commerce Department in January.
August 19, 2011 ·
Cynthia “Cindy” Archer , then deputy secretary for the state Department of Administration, quits her $124,000-a-year job. Archer is hired by the Department of Children and Families as a legislative liaison, making about $25,000 less, then promptly takes a medical leave.
September 2, 2011 ·
Newspaper reports reveal that Walker’s campaign has paid former US Attorney for Eastern District of Wisconsin Steven Biskupic $60,000 in legal fees regarding the John Doe investigation.
September 14, 2011 ·
About a dozen law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, search Archer’s Madison home. Archer, who held the county’s top staff position while Walker was Milwaukee County executive, insists she has done nothing wrong.
September 27, 2011 ·
In separate appearances, Walker tells reporters he has not been contacted by investigators and does not know the scope of the John Doe investigation.
December 2, 2011 ·
State Court of Appeals rules that all grants of immunity in John Doe proceedings be made public, after an individual sought to keep his immunity deal private. The immunity deal was never granted. It was later revealed that the individual seeking a private immunity deal was Andrew Jensen.
December 13, 2011 ·
Authorities arrest Andrew P. Jensen, a commercial real estate broker with Boerke Co. and a past president of the Commercial Association of Realtors-Wisconsin, for allegedly refusing to cooperate with the John Doe investigation into Walker’s current and former aides.
December 14, 2011 ·
Jensen is released without being charged for a crime. As a condition of his release, Jensen has been ordered to meet with officials in the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office on Jan. 25.
January 6, 2012 ·
Felony embezzlement charges filed against Tim Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh, child enticement charges against Russell’s domestic partner, Brian Pierick.
January 24, 2012 ·
Governor Walker insists that the John Doe probe will not target him, and that the probe will show everyone “that our integrity remains intact”.
January 26, 2012 ·
Felony and misdemeanor charges filed against Kelly Rindfleisch and Darlene Wink for illegally doing political work while being paid by taxpayers to do county jobs.
January 26, 2012 ·
Governor Walker’s email to Tim Russell in May 2010 released to the public in a criminal complaint. The email reads: “We cannot afford another story like this one, no one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the workday, etc." Walker seems worried about his employee’s work after the story about and resignation of Darlene Wink.
January 27, 2012 ·
Walker declined to answer a question about whether he or his attorney had been contacted by investigators. By contrast, he said last week that he had not yet talked with anyone in Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office. News reports that Walker’s campaign has paid nearly $110,000 in legal fees in 2011. “I have no comment,” said Brett Davis, the first time he had said anything about the case.
January 31, 2012 ·
Records released which show that Tim Russell, who is charged will embezzling money for veterans, was fired from WHEDA in 1993 for improperly billing 23 overnight stays totaling $1,123.
February 3, 2012 ·
Governor Walker announces he hired defense counsel for his meeting with prosecutors DA.
February 7, 2012 ·
Darlene Wink pleads guilty to two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee. She also agrees to help with the ongoing probe. Her sentencing was delayed until May 15th.
February 14, 2012 ·
The wife of a Republican Party official, Angela Herl, was hired and given a raise last year. It was revealed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that no other candidates were considered for the position in Governor Walker’s administration.
February 24, 2012 ·
Tim Russell pleads not guilty to two felony counts of embezzlement. He previously pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor.
March 9, 2012 ·
Governor Walker announces the creation of a legal defense fund to pay for his legal bills.
March 20, 2012 ·
Kelly Rindfleisch pleads not guilty to four felony counts of misconduct in public office.
March 20, 2012 ·
Open records releases reveal that Governor Walker was the only person that signed off on Kelly Rindfleisch’s hiring and promotion.
April 19, 2012 ·
Andrew Jensen’s attorney releases a statement claiming that Jensen, a real estate broker, has been cleared of all charges and is no longer a target in the John Doe probe that Jensen was arrested for not cooperating with in December 2011.
May 10, 2012 ·
David Halbrooks’, a Milwaukee attorney and formed Milwaukee assistant city attorney and municipal judge, is granted immunity. His connection with the John Doe probe is unclear.
Scott Walker’s Close Aides & Associates
The “Smoking Gun” Email
Read the email message above and ask yourself these questions...
1. If Scott Walker was truly unaware of the alleged campaign activity occurring mere feet away from him in the County Executive’s Office, how did he know about the laptops?
2. Why was this email sent from his campaign account and not his county executive email account? Was it to try to hide his directive from public discovery under the state's sunshine law?
3. Why did Scott Walker email Tim Russell when he didn't work in his office any more, and didn't have any oversight of Walker's staff? Was it because Russell was still in charge of a secret, “shadow” email network in the County Executive’s office?
4. Shouldn't Scott Walker have been telling his deputy Kelly Rindfleisch or his chief of staff Tom Nardelli about alleged campaign activity instead?
5. Why was Scott Walker only concerned about another newspaper story? If he was truly concerned about his staff obeying the law and stopping alleged campaigning on county time, why didn’t he say so?
As County Executive, the buck stopped with Scott Walker.
The smoking gun email suggests Gov. Walker may have known that employees in his office were allegedly engaging in illegal campaign activity on county time.
And if he didn’t know, as the person in charge, shouldn’t he have?