Friday, October 16, 2015

Right wing Lawsuit King Esenberg claims guilty Walker aide Rindfleisch innocent. Hmm, she pleaded guilty Rick....

Funny thing, even when Republicans are caught and found guilty of breaking the law, conservative politicians, right wing think tanks and hapless in-the-tank voters will still deny laws were ever broken. This perceived infallibility is a bit on the frightening side.

On WPR's Joy Cardin Show, Rick Esenberg, president the right wing lawsuit mill The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, nonchalantly broke the news that convicted Scott Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch was innocent, and that she committed no crime. Yes, even after the State Supreme Court turned down her appeal. It was a confident declaration that conservative voters need to believe, and hearing it on the radio helped support their delusions (audio):

Esenberg: "It amazes me that people in Wisconsin on the left, were apoplectic because a handful of staffers in Scott Walker's administration had a private email system to conduct not government business, but political business which they were perfectly free to do..."
In this conversation about Walker's hypocritical comments about Hillary Clinton's emails, the reality based world saw things quite differently. jsonline:
Rindfleisch pleaded guilty in 2012 to doing campaign work at her Milwaukee County government job. Walker's campaign and government teams used a secret email system or private email accounts to deal with the bread-and-butter issues of county government: personnel, budgets and buildings.

A trove of previously sealed documents released last month provides a rearview mirror look into Walker's world and the push to take county government off the official grid. Using private emails for official business can make it harder for the public to find out what its government is doing. 

Emails from private accounts show the Walker campaign and county government teams discussed such varying issues as problems at the Mental Health Complex, the death of a teen at the O'Donnell Park parking structure, reaction to moves made by county supervisors, the attempt to ease out the head of the medical examiner's office, the handling of public records requests, repair estimates for buildings, capital projects, and updates on storm damage and the federal response.
The Progressive's Ruth Conniff responded to Esenberg, calling into question his and congresses credibility on the subject.


  1. Was going to say, thank goodness Margaret Farrow was not up to appearing this morning, but need to revise that to say, put a skirt on Mr Hyperbolic (on the John doe) and nothing much changes.

  2. You are missing critical distinctions and mischaracterize my statement. I suspect that you don't care but the teacher in me feels compelled to at least try to educate you on this.

    At no time did I say that Kelly Rindfleisch was "innocent." I expressed no view on that (it wasn't a topic) and, in fact I think I mentioned at another point in the hour (I guess you missed it) that there were two convictions for fundraising from a government building. As for the statement that you do quote, Rindfleisch was not convicted of using a private e-mail or engaging in political activity in general. She was charged with felony misconduct in office and the alleged misconduct was fundraising from a government building - which is expressly prohibited by statute. Whether you use a private or government e-mail system is irrelevant.

    It is this express prohibition on fundraising that prosecutors used to argue that she had used her public position to gain a dishonest advantage (as the felony misconduct statute requires). But there is no express prohibition against doing anything that can be called "political work" on government time. So I do not believe that it is a crime for persons who work in a government office to engage in "political activity" if that activity is not fundraising or does not violate some other well defined and particularized prohibition. Any other view, it seems to me, raises serious due process (and perhaps First Amendment) concerns. The state Supreme Court might have given some guidance on this in the caucus scandal cases but split 2-2 due to recusal. (In fact, I have long argued that neither the Democrats or Republicans indicted in the caucus scandal should have been criminally charged.)

    It not surprising then, that no one on Walker's county exec staff was charged with a crime for using a private e-mail system because that, in and of itself, is not a crime. (Indeed, the GAB did this during the Doe investigation.) It is not surprising that no one on Walker's County exec staff was charged with simply engaging in conduct that might be called political - although the DA's office clearly believed that this had occurred - because that is also not a crime. If the DA had thought otherwise, he would have brought such charges. He did not. Thus I said that they were "perfectly free" to set up a private e-mail system to engage in conduct that was not part of their official duties, including some that might be called political. Obviously there might be other restrictions on use of that system but it was not, in and of itself, illegal.

    You don't tell your readers the context of my comment. I was saying that it struck me as odd that some people who regarded the revelations about the use of private e-mail by some Walker staffers to be scandalous in and of itself, are uninterested in the use of private e-mail by Secretary of State Clinton (on which, whether she knew it or not, classified material was transmitted) .
    While it's not a crime to use private e-mail, it may be a crime to use it in certain ways. Perhaps Ms. Rindfleisch did that (although, as I have written elsewhere, she was probably overcharged.) But, in Mrs. Clinton's case, the transmission of classified material to or from a private e-mail system also may have been a crime. I am not prepared to say that it was but it seems to me that it is an issue - if, for no other reason, that it reflects on her judgment.

    You are pretty unlikely to ever catch me making a statement about the law that is wrong or that I can't defend. But have a great weekend.