MILWAUKEE — Thousands of emails collected during the first secret investigation into former aides and associates of Gov. Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive were released Thursday. Here are a few things to know about the latest document dump in the long-running John Doe case:
WHAT WAS RELEASED?
Plenty. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele's office provided 7 gigabytes of documents, including more than 26,000 pages of emails from Walker's county executive email account accumulated between 2005 and 2011. The material was collected during the now-closed investigation that resulted in six convictions on a variety of charges — but none against Walker. The tens of thousands of emails included messages from work accounts of those close to Walker, including chief of staff Tom Nardelli, spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin, and deputy chiefs of staff Tim Russell and Kelly Rindfleisch. Both Russell and Rindfleisch were convicted as part of the probe. She pleaded guilty to felony misconduct in office for doing campaign work on county time while Russell was convicted of stealing more than $20,000 from a nonprofit group Walker appointed him to lead.
Not too much. A review of the emails by The Associated Press did not immediately reveal any significant new details about the investigation or Walker's knowledge of county workers doing campaign work on government time. Emails sent by Walker contain internal staff communications, drafts of news releases, speeches and responses to reporters' questions, Christmas greetings, and personal messages in which Walker thanked supporters after his primary win for governor in 2010.
SO, NOTHING INTERESTING?
The emails contain an electronic invitation from Walker's wife, Tonette Walker, who was planning a surprise party for Walker in 2008. There's also a sex joke that was forwarded to dozens of people within county government in 2008, as well as a joke in 2009 making fun of Stevie Wonder being blind. Walker didn't receive either of those or forward them to anyone. But the vast majority of the staff emails focused on county business.
IS THIS THE END OF IT?
Keep dreaming. A judge in May ordered 500 gigabytes of data collected during the first investigation to be made public. Last month, the county released less than 3 percent of it, with just over 1 percent more released Thursday. More than 27,000 pages of emails from Rindfleisch had been released previously. Those showed that county workers under Walker routinely did campaign work while on government time and coordinated with Walker's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Other employees' personal emails have yet to be released.
REMIND ME, WHAT'S JOHN DOE?
The first John Doe investigation led by the Milwaukee County district attorney's office ran from May 2010 and ended in 2013. It ended with six of Walker's aides and associates convicted on charges, including theft and misconduct in office. A second secret investigation began in 2012, focusing on Walker's recall campaign and more than two dozen conservative groups working to help him and Republican state senators who also faced recalls. A federal judge in May put that investigation on hold in a decision under appeal. No one has been charged in that investigation.
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