Jan 09 2012

Winconsin Governor Walker Faces Grassroots Recall; Aides Implicated in Corruption Scandals

Two men appointed to political office by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker while he was the County Executive of Milwaukee County were charged with embezzlement late last week. Milwaukee officials believe Timothy Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh separately pilfered over $60,000 in donations made to Operation Freedom, a fund for military veterans and their families. Kavanaugh is suspected of stealing over $42,000 while Operation Freedom funds were overseen by a Milwaukee Purple Heart Chapter of which he was the treasurer. Ethics probes into the Purple Heart’s money management led to the funds being transferred in 2009 to another veterans fund, the American Legion Post No. 23. It was at this point that Walker as County Executive intervened and transferred management of the funds to his aide, Russell’s organization, the Heritage Guard Preservation Society. Timothy Russell is charged with stealing over $21,000 in 2010. Governor Walker denied any knowledge of the embezzlement and credited his office with tipping-off investigators about irregularities with Operation Freedom bookkeeping. This claim will likely do little to deflect increased scrutiny of him. Thursday’s charges are merely the latest in a string of criminal cases pending against Walker aides as part of a wider John Doe Investigation by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. In the last year Chisholm’s office has raided the homes of a few Walker aides and many have been hauled in for questioning. Some have been granted immunity, including Walker’s Press Secretary Cullen Werwie, suggesting that the John Doe investigation has its sights set on a big player. State officials appear to be gathering evidence to prove that laws were broken by the Walker camp during his 2010 campaign for Governor. What’s not yet clear is whether the John Doe being investigated is Scott Walker. Meanwhile Walker faces a recall campaign, and it appears his opposition will gather enough signatures to force him to run for re-election in 2012. The group United Wisconsin to Recall Walker needs to collect just over 540, 000 valid signatures to put the Governor’s office on the ballot. Just four weeks into its campaign it announced it had already reached over 500,000 signatures. Its ultimate goal is to collect 700,000 signatures by the January 13th deadline to submit the petitions.

GUEST: Mary Bottari, Director of the Center for Media and Democracy’s Real Economy Project and editor of www.BanksterUSA.org

Read Mary Bottari’s article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-bottari/scott-walker-john-doe_b_978770.html

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