Official and campaign business were intertwined during Scott Walker’s 2010 run for governor, according to roughly 70,000 pages of emails released Tuesday from the now-closed John Doe investigation.
Much of the correspondence from Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County executive has already been made public in previous releases.
Tuesday’s batch offered further evidence of how Walker’s campaign and county staff worked together, including times campaign operatives directed county responses to policy matters or media questions.
In one instance, the campaign evaluated potential candidates for a high-level county position based on their Republican bona fides. In another, county aide Kelly Rindfleisch tells campaign aide Keith Gilkes in an August 2010 email, “You guys are in the driver’s seat.”
In an August 2010 email to his county and campaign staff, Walker urges that two of his opponents on the Milwaukee County Board be invited to a news conference commending a record number of passengers at General Mitchell Airport.
“If they come, they just make me look more like a Governor,” Walker wrote.
Campaign and county aides were forwarded an open records request filed by the campaign for Walker’s primary opponent, former Congressman Mark Neumann, that sought documents showing county employees campaigning on taxpayer time.
That prompted a reply from Walker confidante Jim Villa: “Issue a release challenging Mark to open his books and staff info. Corp employees doing politicL (sic) work is illegal too.”
The emails were part of Reserve Judge Neal Nettesheim’s order to release documents that had been returned to Milwaukee County after the first John Doe investigation into Walker’s office was closed.
According to Brendan Conway, a spokesman for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, the release includes about 2 gigabytes of data, consisting of nearly 70,000 pages of emails and email attachments relating to government business.
Conway said the records are among those seized by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office from both county and personal computers. Additional documents are expected to be released, but it’s unclear when, he said.
The investigation, closed in March 2013, resulted in criminal charges and fines against six former Walker aides and associates, including theft of veterans’ funds, illegal campaign donations and misconduct in public office. The governor was not charged.
The fate of a second John Doe involving Walker’s recall campaign is pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
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