Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"I see guilty people."

I have written columns on the legal issues presented - or more accurately not presented - by the closed Doe investigation of former County Executive Scott Walker's office and the recent release of certain documents gathered as part of that investigation.

Of course, I don't expect Democratic partisans to stop. The latest trope is to hammer Walker for not wanting to answer an endless string of questions. He should, they think, be willing to linger over material that was insufficient for even a District Attorney who embarked on a three year proctological examination of Walker's office to issue charges.

Walker's desire to move on is supposed to be a Jedi mind trick - perhaps learned from President Obama ("this is not the resurgent al-Qaeda you were looking for").

I won't comment on the Governor's media strategy. But I think what's happening here is more akin to people who see the Virgin Mary in an oil stain. Walker's opponents see what they want to see.

What none of these folks ever do is point to anything that might conceivably be a crime or even, for that matter, wrong. Although the authors acknowledged it was not a crime, Sunday's Journal Sentinel tried this one: A publication criticized a Walker plan to privatize the airport. Walker asked his staffers to get out a response to the criticism. Within thirty minutes, they did.

Oh the horror! Oh the humanity!

To repeat. It is not a crime for public officials and their employees to put out messages that promote the official and her policies. It is not a crime even if how they do it is informed by a campaign consultant. It is not even a crime for such people to sometimes attend to campaign matters during the day although they may never raise funds during established working hours or from a public building and it may be a violation of workplace policy to use government resources (like a computer or e-mail system to do so). 

It is also not illegal to have a "secret e-mail" system or private e-mail account. Elected official and their staff often have them. They are usually called smart phones and g-mail. The real question is how they are used.  If someone sits in a government office taking in a government salary while raising money, setting up campaign rallies (as opposed to scheduling the boss), doing media buys and conducting opposition research unrelated to some policy objective, then we have a problem (although even then, the applicability of felony misconduct statutes may be questionable as it was in the caucus scandal.)

So if there were evidence of Walker instructing his people to do that, then maybe there's something to talk about it. But, near as I can tell, all we have - after one of the most thorough investigations of any politician in the history of Wisconsin - is two people engaged in fundraising from a county building without any connection of their activities to Walker.

Here's a thought experiment. Human beings as they are, if we took three years and scoured the laundry of Tom Barrett, Jim Doyle or Tammy Baldwin, do you really think we wouldn't find as much?

If you don't think so, I want you to meet my uncle. He just stole sixteen million dollars from the Kenyan government and would like to park it in your bank account.

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rick,

You miss the point. It's not the emails that are in question but the integrity of a man who has none. (Walker)

John Foust said...

Darlene Wink resigned on May 13, 2010 admitting to campaigning during the work day.

Walker's "no more laptops" email was sent on May 14.

On May 25, County supervisor John Weishan made an open records request to Walker's office, looking for evidence of campaigning "on any personal computers" in Walker's staffed office.

His request was stalled until July, and ultimately he was charged more than $2,800 for a series of records that did not include records from the recent dump.

We can now see that these email records should've been surrendered, but they weren't. There was deliberate evasion going on.

Even if you accept the claim that Walker only learned of the "secret router" on May 13, they all should've complied correctly to the subsequent open records requests.

Similarly, the email dump shows that Mark Neumann's campaign made a similar request on June 7, and these "secret router" emails were not surrendered.

You can't just wave your hands and proclaim that Walker & Co. was innocent of everything and anything anyone can imagine.

Prosecutors need proof sufficient for the charges, confidence in their case, and surely they weigh the amount of cash that an accused will throw at it.

John Mitchell said...

"If you think that your political opponent is corrupt, you are probably wrong."

followed by barely two months into the New Year...

"Here's a thought experiment. Human beings as they are, if we took three years and scoured the laundry of Tom Barrett, Jim Doyle or Tammy Baldwin, do you really think we wouldn't find as much?

preceded by...

"One of the most treacherous developments in our politics is the irresponsibility with which certain people have attempted to criminalize political differences. (Yes, I am talking about the John Doe, but conservatives are not without sin here.) "


Indeed, a particular conservative who is NOT without sin, as thoroughly demonstrated in this deliciously ironic series of statements.

Listen, sir, we get it...some on the left are still lamenting about the findings by the DA in "Walkergate". You explained your position clearly in one blog post, then doubled down a couple days later. Why?

Perhaps a memo from the boyzzz at the MacIverInstit(ution) to ramp up the partisanship, despite your personal misgivings? I mean, after all, what would they say about you at the water cooler?

Anonymous said...

With John Doe 1, the party line was "It is a violation of law to talk about it!"

With John Doe 2, the party line changed and all the Republican operatives are blabbing.

There must be something here, or there wouldn't be this complete change in strategy.

How much are you paid for your spin, Professor?

John Peter said...
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