MILWAUKEE — Nearly 70,000 pages of emails and attachments were released Tuesday that had been collected during the first secret investigation into former aides and associates of Gov. Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive. Here are a few things to know about the latest documents made public in the now-closed case:
WHAT WAS RELEASED?
Thousands of pages of emails from the personal accounts of six people from Walker's county executive office were included. This was the fourth release of emails and documents collected during the investigation that a judge ruled in May must be made public. The first batch was released by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele's office in August, followed by more in September and October. To date, roughly 24 gigabytes of data has been released, totaling more than 100,000 pages of material. Additionally, 27,000 pages of emails collected during the probe were previously released as part of an appeal made by Kelly Rindfleisch, one of the six Walker aides or associates convicted as a result of the investigation. Walker was never charged with wrongdoing.
Given the volume of emails already been released, much of what was made public Tuesday was not new. The emails show, once again, that Walker was deeply involved with decision-making by his county and 2010 gubernatorial campaign team. It was that activity of doing campaign work while on government time that was investigated as part of the probe that closed with no charges against Walker.
Several emails show Walker suggesting minor changes to press releases, writing his own responses, and pushing back against news stories he did not view as favorable. In an April 1, 2010, email sent to his chief of staff Tom Nardelli, Walker outlines his media strategy and tells Nardelli: "No one should be commenting on anything until we have a chance to talk and until we agree on our message."
In another email string two weeks later, Walker, his campaign staff and his county staff try to quickly react to questions about why he wasn't doing public service announcements about donating blood. "Let's get to the bottom of it fast before we get a beating. Tick tock," wrote Walker's campaign adviser R.J. Johnson. Ultimately, they determine the request for Walker to do the announcements went to a campaign email account he didn't personally check. "It does beg the question about who reads the email @ firstname.lastname@example.org," Walker wrote to his county and campaign staff.
WHAT WAS NOT RELEASED?
Even though the emails come from personal computers of county workers, any material dubbed to be non-public, such as private employee information, personal medical information and attorney-client communication, was removed. There will be one final release of documents totaling "a few" gigabytes of data next month, said Milwaukee County attorney Paul Bargren.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER JOHN DOE?
These records were collected during the first so-called John Doe investigation of Walker, which ended in 2013. A John Doe investigation is Wisconsin's version of a grand jury probe where information is tightly controlled and investigators go about their work in secret.
A second investigation began in 2012 and focused on alleged illegal coordination between Walker's recall campaign and more than two dozen conservative groups. That investigation is on hold after the judge overseeing it in January blocked subpoenas prosecutors requested.
That case is pending before the state Supreme Court.
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