Thursday, May 31, 2012

About the Walker-Hiller 2010 Emails—And More

By Lisa Kaiser
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It appears that the John Doe investigators are looking into potential shenanigans or bid rigging on contracts to house Milwaukee County workers in 2005 and 2010.

Yesterday, I wrote about how then-County Executive Scott Walker's campaign top staffers were somehow involved in the 2005 episode, when the contract was bid out, then re-bid under questionable circumstances.

But that wasn't the end of the story, because the lease issue came up again in 2010.

Apparently, Walker's campaign treasurer, John Hiller, "had a role" in the 2010 effort to keep workers at the Reuss building and potentially add more workers to that office space. Ultimately, the county workers were moved to the Coggs Center, on Vliet Street.

This past week, the Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice wrote about “a private email exchange” between Walker and Hiller in the spring of 2010.

Bice wrote that he didn't have the emails, but those who told him about them described them as “everything from 'legally inconclusive' to 'a bombshell.'”

So, apparently, Bice doesn't have the emails.

I don't, either, even though I've made open records requests that I think would have covered them.

I received almost 500 pages of emails from the county that I think should have included these emails.

A note attached to the response to my request said that “there were four (4) documents removed from the file that fall under attorney/client privilege.”

Are these the smoking Walker-Hiller emails?

And if not, does that mean that Walker and Hiller were emailing each other about the office deal via their private email accounts? Were they using the private Internet system set up by Tim Russell?

Bice said he couldn't determine which email system was used.

Where are the emails?

If the “private email exchange” was so innocuous, why don't I have a copy of it? Why doesn't Bice have it? He made an open records request but the emails weren't included, either.

Some of the emails I do have involve the deal to move the Department of Aging workers in 2010. In September 2010, the department's Stephanie Sue Stein wrote that she and Geri Lyday wanted to house the workers in the Coggs Center on Vliet Street. The next morning, Chief of Staff Tom Nardelli wrote that “the county executive has reviewed your email and finds it an acceptable alternative, which he supports.”

So where's the Walker-Hiller exchange?

PS: The other curious thing I found in the response to my open records request is that at 1:09 p.m. on April 28, 2010, then-DOA Secretary Cindy Archer forwarded a draft PowerPoint of Walker's 2011 Budget Listening Session to her personal email account, which at 8:30 p.m. she forwarded to the personal email accounts of Fran McLaughlin (Walker's county spokeswoman), Tom Nardelli (chief of staff) and Tim Russell (Walker's county/campaign jack-of-all-trades), as well as the emails of Walker campaign staffers Jill Bader and Keith Gilkes, political strategist RJ Johnson and, oh yeah, Scott Walker himself. I can't tell if Archer's email went to Walker's personal or private email account, but Walker is definitely copied on the email, along with his campaign staffers.

Walker's first budget listening session was held on May 3, 2010.

Separately, from what I can tell, it appears that Kelly Rindfleisch emailed the final version to her personal email account.

UPDATE: Bice just reported that Fran McLaughlin, Walker's former spokeswoman, was the 13th person to be given immunity.



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