Thanks to the blanket coverage by MSNBC, especially Rachel Maddow, we know a whole lot about the inner workings of the administration of the governor of New Jersey. We also know a lot about the traffic patterns in and around Fort Lee, New Jersey, the George Washington Bridge, and who worked for who. It’s made the possibility that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be able to launch a presidential campaign next year questionable at best.
But Mr. Christie isn’t the only governor with an ethics problem.
Madison — Thousands of documents unsealed Wednesday link Gov. Scott Walker to a secret email system used in his office that would avoid public scrutiny when he was Milwaukee County executive.
The records also show that on the day before he was elected governor in 2010, the secret investigation into links between Walker’s county government staff and his political campaign was widened to include four more aides. That same day, search warrants were executed on Walker’s campaign and county offices, as well as the homes of some of his assistants.
The Republican governor spoke to the press only before the records were released, saying he was confident there wouldn’t be anything damaging in them beyond what had already led to criminal charges against several former aides and appointees.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat whose office led the John Doe investigation, would not comment on the pre-election timing of the expansion of the investigation and searches, which included the seizure of computers.
The trove of documents unsealed by the courts Wednesday shows just how intertwined Walker’s campaign operation was with his taxpayer-paid county staff in the months leading to the November 2010 general election.
It is against state law in Wisconsin for public employees to work for political parties and campaigns while being paid by taxpayers to provide government services.
Throughout the secret investigation, Walker said he had zero tolerance for government employees doing campaign work while on the clock. But the newly released records detail almost daily interactions between his top county and campaign staffers.
Walker used his campaign email to communicate with his county aides, who frequently used their own private email accounts when interacting with Walker or his campaign — all of which would shield their discussions from the public.
Both of these cases will wind their ways through the courts, but the bigger picture is that two of the most prominent names that the Republicans have been touting as their next generation of candidates for president are in legal trouble. If they drop out, who have they got on deck other than the leftovers from 2012: Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich?
Hey, I hear Mitt Romney’s not doing anything.