A former aide to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) will testify against her former colleagues after officials filed charges of illegal campaign activity while working on taxpayer time, local media has learned.
Darlene Wink, a 61-year-old former public employee charged on Thursday with two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee, could be the weak link that spills yet another major scandal over the embattled governor, even as he appears likely to face a recall election later this year.
Prosecutors on Thursday announced four felony charges for another Walker insider, 43-year-old Kelly Rindfleisch, who worked with Wink as one of Walker’s aides.
That brings the total number of Walker insiders facing criminal charges to six, according to The Wisconsin State Journal, which concluded the ongoing investigation had turned up a “pattern of illegal fundraising” and confirmed that Wink was working on a plea bargain that would include testimony.
The probe reportedly began in 2010, before Walker had been elected, sparked by the discovery of Wink’s habit of posting political commentaries on the website of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel while on state time.
Investigators said they even found a secret wireless network and email system set up in county offices, accessed by Walker’s aides on personal laptops, used for off-the-record campaigning.
Others charged in the course of the investigation include Tim Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh, who were accused of defrauding a veterans charity, along with Brian Pierick, Russell’s partner, who was accused of soliciting a child.
Walker himself has not yet been implicated, but the investigation is ongoing.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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