MSNBC host Chris Hayes said on Wednesday that the revelation of tens of thousands of emails from a former staffer puts Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in much the same boat as a fellow prospective GOP presidential candidate — his New Jersey counterpart, Chris Christie (R).
“It turns out that Scott Walker has more or less the exact same baggage that Chris Christie has,” Hayes said. “In fact, when it comes to misdeeds and abuses of power in your inner circle, the Wisconsin governor may already have Chris Christie beat.”
Walker had won the favor of big-money Republican backers in the wake of his successful union-busting and recall-beating efforts, Hayes explained.
“If you’re one of those one-percenters who wants to use your fortune to influence politics, and you’re looking for a general election-friendly alternative to Tea Party-aligned candidates like [Senators] Rand Paul (R-KY) or Ted Cruz (R-TX), the sudden fall of Chris Christie has left you taking a long, hard look at Scott Walker,” Hayes said.
But Wednesday saw the release of more than 28,000 emails from former deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch. The messages suggested Walker, a former executive for Milwaukee County, was part of a secret email system using hidden wireless routers, which he and his staff used to coordinate his 2010 gubernatorial bid during office hours.
While Walker has denied being connected to the email ring, one message from administration director Cynthia Archer to Rindfleisch welcomed Rindfleisch to the “inner circle.”
“I use this private account quite a bit to communicate with SKW and [then-chief of staff Tom] Nardelli,” Walker wrote. “You should be sure you check it throughout the day.” Hayes noted that “SKW” stood for Walker’s whole name, Scott Keith Walker.
Another email from Walker himself told the staffers, “We cannot afford another story like this one” after a staff member resigned for posting partisan comments online during work hours, threatening to scuttle the private laptops his staff had been using for the illicit emails. Walker was also shown to have organized a daily conference call involving members of both his campaign staff and his county employees.
The Washington Post reported that the emails were gathered as part of an investigation that did not find any wrongdoing on Walker’s part, but still led to convictions for six former staff members.
But while that investigation has concluded, Hayes noted, a second state probe could be looking to see whether Walker’s office worked with conservative organizations in defeating the recall effort against him in 2012. At the time, reports circulated saying conservative activists planned to create fake recall petitions for people to sign, which they would later destroy.
“While one shoe dropped today, another one may be dangling just above Scott Walker’s head,” Hayes said.
Watch Hayes’ commentary, as aired Wednesday on MSNBC, below.