From the outset of the “John Doe” investigation in Wisconsin, wherein Governor Scott Walker has been implicated in overseeing the use of taxpayer-funded man-hours for his campaign for the governoship during his time as Milwaukee County Executive, his administration has claimed that he personally called for the investigation.
Documents released today by the defense lawyer for former confidant and aide to Scott Walker, Tim Russell, suggest otherwise. According to Tim Russell’s testimony, Scott Walker obstructed the investigation from day one and did not personally call for the investigation.
A lawyer for Tim Russell acknowledged today that he released documents that resulted in a news story saying Scott Walker’s administration had stonewalled the investigation of money stolen from a fund for veterans. [...]
Meanwhile, Judge David Hansher delayed the trial, which had been scheduled for June, until Sept. 10 because of pre-trial publicity, including Russell’s photo being featured in anti-Walker ads. The prosecution did not oppose the delayed trial date. [...]
Today was the final pretrial hearing for Russell, charged in the Milwaukee Co. John Doe case. The charges against Russell allege that he stole more than $20,000 from a fund established by Walker to put on an annual celebration at the zoo for veterans and their families. He also is accused of stealing money from Republican candidates he was advising.
Hansher met with Russell, prosecutors and defense lawyer Dennis Krueger behind closed doors for nearly an hour before coming into open court. [...]
Krueger had gotten the John Doe testimony from prosecutors as part of pre-trial discovery and included it in his motion to dismiss the charges.
In chambers, Krueger acknowledged he had released the info with his client’s approval.
It seems clear that now that his own ass is on the line, Tim Russell is giving up the goods on Scott Walker.
Tim Russell revealed that not only did Walker not call for the investigation, the lead investigators on the case were obstructed for two years before opening the investigation themselves.
More from Charles Pierce
The most significant turn of events came last week, on May 31, just as Walker and Barrett were preparing to debate that night, when Daniel Bice, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter who’s been an absolute bulldog on this investigation, published a damaging piece in which Bice said that, contrary to Walker’s repeated insistence that he had called for the John Doe investigation himself, the investigators on the case opened the investigation themselves after two years of stonewalling by Walker and his administration. Bice’s story was based on a document filed with the court in the Russell case. [...]
Tim Russell’s lawyer — and, therefore, Tim Russell — had made public damaging information about Scott Walker and undermined the whole ethical basis of the governor’s response to charges that he had misused his public office for private gain. It is not unreasonable to assume that this either was a warning shot — take care of me or you’re going down, too — or evidence that Russell already has rolled.
Whether or not Scott Walker is recalled from office tomorrow, he may very well face indictment in the coming months. To prepare for this, Scott Walker has established a legal defense fund for which he recently transferred over $160,000 from his campaign coffers.
The legal defense fund is a first of its kind for Wisconsin governors, and under Wisconsin law you can only establish such a fund if you are a target of an investigation.