|There is a hidden time Bomb in Senate Rules that will go off if a Justice Retires|
"There’s A Hidden Timebomb In The Senate Rules That Will Go Off If A Supreme Court Justice Retires"
CREDIT: (AP PHOTO/COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, STEVE PETTEWAY)
As Jonathan Chait notes, only five Republican senators voted to confirm Justice Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, and three of those senators — Judd Gregg, Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe — are no longer in the Senate. If Republicans take the Senate this November, there is a very real possibility that no one President Obama nominates to a Supreme Court vacancy, no matter what their record or qualifications, could be confirmed to the Court.
We made a similar point in 2012, when Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock defeated Lugar in a Republican Senate primary after he attacked Lugar for his support of Kagan and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. As we wrote then, “[i]n light of this incident, it is unlikely that any of the few remaining Republicans who backed an Obama Supreme Court appointee will be willing to risk their careers by doing the same again.”
Indeed, under the Senate’s current rules, Republicans could block a Supreme Court appointment right now, if they chose to, even though Democrats effectively control 55 percent of the Senate. Last November, when Senate Democrats voted to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” and end the GOP’s ability to require a supermajority to vote to confirm most nominees, they left in place the 60 supermajority requirement for Supreme Court confirmations. As a result, unless at least five Republicans oppose a GOP filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee, the current rules allow the GOP to keep that nominee from being confirmed.
Of course, if the vacancy were to arise right now, when Democrats control a solid majority of the Senate’s seats, it would be a simple matter to invoke the “nuclear option” again — a procedure that allows the Senate’s rules to be changed by a simple majority vote. But that assumes that a majority of the Senate is willing to support such a rules change.
Although Republicans have not, to say the least, been particularly cooperative when it comes to confirming President Obama’s judges, the truth is that there are some GOP senators who have been less obstructionist than others. Earlier this month, for example, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted with Democrats on Michelle Friedland’s nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Friedland, by virtue of the fact that she once clerked on the Supreme Court and that she is a relatively young 41 years-old, is a plausible Supreme Court nominee in a Democratic administration.
The nightmare scenario for Democrats under the current Senate rules arises if Republicans take over the Senate but Collins and Murkowski break with their party to support President Obama’s future Supreme Court nominee. This November, Democrats must defend their gains from the 2008 wave election year where they won seats in states like Alaska and Arkansas where Democrats typically do not fare particularly well. It is easy to imagine Republicans emerging with a slight majority — maybe 51 seats — once all the votes are counted.
Under that scenario, an Obama nominee is still likely to be supported by all 49 of the remaining members of the Democratic caucus, and that nominee could be supported by a handful of Republicans as well. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that any Republican would vote at that particular moment to change the Senate’s rules in order to allow a Supreme Court nominee to clear the Senate by a simple majority vote. To do so would likely be political suicide.
The Senate Democrats’ decision to cut Supreme Court nominees out of the nuclear option last November, in other words, could prove deadly for any nomination President Obama sends to the Senate. If Republicans take the Senate this November, we may need to get used to seeing an empty seat on the Supreme Court for a very long time.
The Obama administration is reportedly considering limiting the deportations of undocumented immigrants who do not have criminal records. Recent figures show two-thirds of those deported under President Obama had committed minor infractions, such as traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. The Associated Press reports the change is being considered as part of a Department of Homeland Security review launched amidst rising criticism of Obama’s record two million deportations.
The Wilsons: Moral Monday is exercise in right to assemble
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Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014 5:00 pm
The Rev. William Barber, architect and leader of the Moral Monday phenomenon, has said at the rallies, “This is not a moment. It is a movement.” Over the past year we have attended Moral Monday rallies throughout the state, and that participation has given us an appreciation for his quote. The rallies have been energizing, instructive, heartwarming and at times just inspiring. We have realized we are part of a continuing “movement” that is persistently challenging our elected officials to act for the common good and not to surrender to ideology and special interests.
The motivating force behind our continued involvement is reflected in the North Carolina State Constitution, Article I, Section 2, that reads, “All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.” These words reflect the defining principle of a democratically governed state. Many people in our state are of the opinion that the ideal of a state governed “of, by, and for the people” is under serious assault by an ideologically obsessed General Assembly bent on moving the state toward a plutocracy instead of a government presided over by the people.
From 2011 through 2013, there were two very different streams of information that also motivated us. First, there were daily reports of the deluge of legislation being drafted and passed so quickly it was almost impossible to keep up with, study and comprehend. The majority of the legislation being proposed and ratified had nothing to do with the urgent need for a clear plan for economic recovery, and it had little to do with needs of or directives from the people. Among bills passed by the General Assembly, the following are of most concern to us:
-- Amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages and embedding discrimination of North Carolina citizens into the constitution.
-- Restricting women’s access to comprehensive health care.
-- Passing the most restrictive voter suppression legislation in the United States.
-- Underfunding public schools and teacher pay, removing the cap on charter schools, and redirecting public funds through vouchers to private schools.
-- Rejecting federal money for Medicaid expansion for over 500,000 individuals and families.
-- Rejecting federal unemployment benefits that denied 70,000 North Carolinians extended benefits.
-- Repealing public financing of judicial races and allowing unlimited private donations to judicial candidates.
Second, there was an equal flood of information about the efforts of national and state organizations with a clear agenda of moving state governments to the far right. As early as the summer of 2011, The Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation released news under the rubric “ALEC Exposed.” The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), we learned, is an organization composed of state legislators and representatives of numerous corporations that drafts model bills that are to be presented to state legislatures for passage. Voter ID laws, privatization of public schools, lower taxes on the wealthiest, repeal of the estate tax and business friendly environmental regulations are among the model bills generated by ALEC.
With this information our concerns were heightened since Thom Tillis, speaker of the state House of Representatives, was given the award “ALEC Legislator of the Year” in 2011, and he is now serving on the ALEC board of directors. How many of the regressive bills passed by the General Assembly have been influenced by ALEC? Were our elected officials representing the people or the interest of large corporations?
As we searched for vehicles to express our concern and outrage about the direction of our state, we realized that the Rev. Barber and the NC NAACP afforded an opportunity to exercise the right to assemble and express grievances toward elected officials in a peaceful, disciplined and informed manner. Our individual voices were amplified by participating in the chorus of thousands of distressed, infuriated citizens. Enlistment in the ranks of those who were willing to be arrested punctuated the seriousness of our concern and of our resolve to be heard.
Only a large movement of unified voices can even begin to challenge the obstinate ideologues in the General Assembly and compete with their wealthy right-wing benefactors pouring millions of dollars into the remaking of North Carolina. Being in a movement with like-minded egalitarians reinforces hope, encourages action, maintains self-discipline and provides a structure for creative dissent.
On May 19, the “movement” continues in Raleigh.
Do we all need a Moral Monday movement?
The burgeoning Moral Monday ‘fusion movement,’ with roots in North Carolina, has spread throughout the South, and states like Indiana may be next in line.
An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people gathered outside the North Carolina State Capitol in Februaty for a Moral Monday march in Raleigh. Image from fireflyfans.net.
The emergence of Moral Mondays in the South
WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — “Moral Monday” refers to a burgeoning mass movement that had its roots in efforts to defend voter rights in North Carolina. Thousands of activists have been mobilizing across the South over the last year inspired by Moral Mondays.
They are fighting back against draconian efforts to destroy the right of people to vote, workers’ and women’s rights, and for progressive policies in general. Paradoxically, many progressives in the South and elsewhere have not heard of this budding movement.
Moral Mondays began as the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly (HKonJ) in 2006 to promote progressive politics in North Carolina. Originally a coalition of 16 organizations, initiated by the state’s NAACP, it has grown to include 150 organizations today promoting a multi-issue agenda. In 2006, its task was to pressure the state’s Democratic politicians to expand voting rights and support progressive legislation on a variety of fronts.
With the election of a tea-party government in that state in 2012, the thrust of Moral Mondays shifted to challenging the draconian policies threatening to turn back gains made by people of color, workers, women, environmentalists and others. Public protests at the state house weekly in the spring of 2013 during the state legislative session led to over 1,000 arrests for civil disobedience and hundreds of thousands of hits on MM websites.
Similar movements have spread throughout the South (Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida) and in some states in the Midwest and Southwest (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Missouri).
To kick off the spring 2014 protests, MM organizers called a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on February 8 which brought out at least 80,000 protestors. Rev. William Barber, a key organizer of the movement, has grounded this new movement in history, suggesting that the South is in the midst of the “third reconstruction.”
The first reconstruction, after the Civil War, consisted of Black and white workers struggling to create a democratic South (which would have impacted on the North as well). They elected legislators who wrote new state constitutions to create democratic institutions in that region for the first time. This first reconstruction was destroyed by white racism and the establishment of Jim Crow segregation.
The second reconstruction occurred between Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954 and President Nixon’s 1968 “Southern Strategy.” During this period formal segregation was overturned, Medicare and Medicaid were established, and Social Security was expanded. Blacks and whites benefited. Dr. King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign envisioned a defense and expansion of the second reconstruction.
Now we are in the midst of a third reconstruction, according to Barber. Political mobilizations today, like those of the first reconstruction, are based on what was called in the 1860s “fusion” politics; that is bringing all activists — Black, Brown, white, gay/straight, workers, environmentalists — together.
Fusion politics assumes that only a mass movement built on everyone’s issues can challenge the billionaire economic elites…
Fusion politics assumes that only a mass movement built on everyone’s issues can challenge the billionaire economic elites such as the Koch brothers and their Wall Street collaborators with masses of people (the 99 percent). Fusion politics, Rev. Barber says, requires an understanding of the fact that every issue is interconnected causally with every other issue. Therefore, democracy, civil rights, labor, women’s, gay/lesbian, and environmental movements must act together.
At the February action in Raleigh five general demands were articulated as guides for their spring activism. While economic, political, and historical forces vary from state to state the demands can serve as a model for action elsewhere as well. The North Carolina demands are:
- Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability;
- Provide well-funded, quality public education for all;
- Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice across all the state’s communities;
- Address the continuing inequalities in the criminal justice system and ensure equality under the law for every person, regardless of race, class, creed, documentation or sexual preference;
- Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly and students to safeguard fair democratic representation.
The MM demands and the situation in Indiana
As to labor rights, poverty, and economic sustainability, Indiana trends mirror the national decline in union membership to a 97 year low. Only 11.3 percent of the American workforce is in unions. Hoosier union membership was 9.3 percent in 2013, almost a 2 percent decline since 2011. Former Governor Mitch Daniels ended collective bargaining for state workers his first day in office in 2005 and signed a new Right-to-Work law at the end of his second term in 2012.
The war on workers paralleled the increases in poverty and the decline in economic well-being in Indiana.
The war on workers paralleled the increases in poverty and the decline in economic well-being in the state. Poverty rates in 2012 included 22 percent of children, 7 percent of seniors, and 15.1 percent of women, and included 41 percent of single-parent families. The total poverty rate in Indiana was 15.6 percent with 13.5 percent of Hoosiers living with food insecurity, and 7.15 percent in extreme poverty (living on less than $2 a day). Low income families totaled 32 percent of all families with 24 percent of workers in low wage jobs.
To quote the Indiana Institute for Working Families:
“…more than 1 in 5 children live in poverty and 47 percent are low-income (more than all neighbor states, including Kentucky); more than 1 million Hoosiers over the age of 18 are in poverty and 2.24 million are low-income; more than 70% of Hoosier jobs are in occupations that pay less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines — that’s less than $39,060 for the same family of three… we have a larger share of jobs in occupations that pay at or below poverty wages ($19,530 for a family of three) and jobs that pay at or below minimum wage than all neighbor states, including Kentucky; and wages have declined for lower- and middle-income Hoosiers over the past decade, while worker productivity has soared.” (Derek Thomas, “Cato Study Disingenuously Presents Molehills as Mountains,” Indiana Institute for Working Families, August 23, 2013).
As to education, 87 percent of Hoosier adults have a high school education and 23.4 percent have a college degree, while high school graduation rates stand at 77 percent (ranked 31 of 50 states) and 64 percent of college students have debt averaging $27, 886. Indiana led the way in establishing charter schools and vouchers for attendees while budgets for public education have been cut significantly.
Highlighting health care, Governor Pence has refused to allow Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act leaving over 400,000 economically marginalized Hoosiers without any form of health care. In a recent report prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau, Hoosiers were more likely to be without health insurance than Americans in general (The Vincennes Sun-Commercial, September 25, 2013).
Indiana is a state that fails miserably in terms of environmental justice.
Indiana is a state that fails miserably in terms of environmental justice. Denise Abdul-Rahman, Indiana NAACP Environmental Climate Justice chairperson, reported on two coal-fired power plants in the state that produce unacceptable amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by federal government standards.
She reported on an NAACP study finding that 75 of 378 such plants nationally were graded a failure, affecting some 4 million people with low incomes. Fifty-three percent of those exposed to the excessive emissions are people of color. Abdul-Rahman also pointed out that the state NAACP will be investigating coal ash storage from other states in Indiana, sewage overflow into surface waters, and the progress of recovery of Superfund sites. (Rebecca Townsend, “Confronting Environmental Justice,” Nuvo, July 17, 2013).
An equitable criminal justice system and equality under the law have been on the national agenda for years. National data are replicated in each state. Evidence from 2003-2006 (Christopher Hartney and Linh Vuong, “Created Equal: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the US Criminal Justice System,” National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 2009) suggests that African Americans experience over twice the arrest frequencies as whites and higher in particular categories of crimes such as drug possession and violent crimes.
People of color experience stiffer sentences, higher rates of incarceration, longer probation periods, and higher percentages of convicted criminals on death row. Rates of arrests, punishments, and incarcerations of Black youth exceed those of whites. Mother Jones investigated incarceration rates in the United States in 2010. The majority of the two million in jail are people of color. In Indiana, with an African American population representing 8 percent of the state’s total population, 42 percent of the prison population is Black.
Other forms of discrimination recently displayed in Indiana include laws prohibiting same sex marriage and efforts to add this existing prohibition to the Indiana constitution. In addition, state laws have been approved that are designed to shrink and eliminate women’s rights to control their own bodies, including defunding and over-regulating Planned Parenthood health care delivery everywhere in the state.
Finally, Indiana has been in the forefront in establishing voter suppression laws. The state established in 2005 one of the first laws mandating photo identification requirements for voter registration. ALEC model legislation has since spread all across the country, disenfranchising people of color, poorer voters, elderly citizens, and demographic groups more likely to vote for Democratic candidates for public office.
Indiana and a Moral Mondays movement
The threats to economic, social, and political justice in Indiana are not unique. Some states have even worse records on economic and health indicators. Some states penalize people of color even more than Indiana in terms of education, rights and privileges, and the construction of safety nets for the most needy.
But the record for meeting the needs of Hoosiers in a number of areas has been declining for at least a decade. And given the threat to democracy that is spreading all across the land, campaigns to fight back and to rebuild the dream for a better future must rise up in each and every state based on local contexts and coalitions of progressive political forces.
The essay opened with the question, “Does Indiana Need a Moral Mondays Movement?” The answer is clear. It does.
The Hightower Report
To start a movement, start moving!
Like that little choo-choo in the children's book, Moral Monday is the little movement that says, "I think I can" – and it just keeps chugging up the hill.
This progressive citizen's action coalition in North Carolina became a full-throttle citizen's uprising in the Tar Heel State early last year. Fueled by rising public outrage at the rampant right-wing extremism of the Republican-run state government, a few advocates for workers, civil rights, and other social justice issues went inside the state capitol on a Monday in April. Led by the Rev.William Barber II, head of the state NAACP, they literally put their bodies on the line in protest of the GOP's reckless crusade to turn North Carolina into a privatized utopia for unfettered corporate greed and Tea Party wackiness.
Several of the small group were arrested that day, and Republican leaders berated their protest as "Moron Monday." But the politicos aren't laughing now. The protesters keep coming and their numbers keep growing, for Moral Monday has struck a chord, and the protest has spread across the state. A rally in February drew more than 80,000 people, and public approval ratings for the governor and state as sembly have tanked.
The legislature is now out of session, but Moral Monday still has weekly meetings and is launching a 50-county organizing and voter-education campaign this summer. It's no longer a protest, but a burgeoning multi-issue, grassroots movement for progressive change. And it is literally on the move, branching out to other states – Moral Monday Georgia is going full steam this year, South Carolina has a Truthful Tuesday movement gaining momentum, and the movement is getting started in Alabama, Florida, New York, and Wisconsin.
Some of these states are mighty steep political hills for progressives to climb, but success begins with someone saying, "I think I can." To have a movement, you've gotta start moving!
More info at: Austinchronicle.com
PROTESTORS BLOCK INTERSECTION NEAR BROADVIEW DETENTION CENTER, CALL ON PRESIDENT OBAMA TO STOP DEPORTATIONS
Broadview, Illnois – Immigrant rights activists have formed a human chain to block an intersection near the Broadview Detention Center. Crowds are chanting “Not one more,” and “Two Million Too Many” referring to the President’s record deportations and their demand that he act immediately to stop them.
One participant said, “If the President will not stop deportations, then we will. You don’t deport people in order to legalize them. The President’s strategy on immigration reform has gotten us two million deportations, but it hasn’t gotten us reform. We need immediate action from the President and it needs to start with administrative relief.”
Today’s actions are part of the national #Not1more Deportation campaign calling on President Obama to put a stop to deportations with more than 80 events occurring over the weekend nationwide. By the middle of April, President Obama will have carried out 2 million deportations, more than any other president.
The group asserts that President Obama doesn’t have to wait for Congress to use his executive authority to stop the suffering. He could expand the deferred action program he created for immigrant youth and suspend deportations immediately. Communities across the country are organizing events under the slogan “Two Million, Too Many” to demand that the President stop deportations.
Organizations participating in today’s action: Undocumented Illinois. Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Latino Policy Forum, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities and National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
More at: notonemoredeportation.com
|March surge turns ACA haters into APRIL FOOLS!!!|
|Como la tension en Ukraine sigue explotando, Risia lanza un cohete|
As Ukraine tension flares, Russia test-fires a ICBM
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters
Ukraine crisis: Latest news
Russia said it had successfully test-fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on Tuesday, with tensions high over its seizure of control in the Crimea and its threat to send more forces to its neighbour Ukraine.
The Strategic Rocket Forces launched an RS-12M Topol missile from the southerly Astrakhan region near the Caspian Sea and the dummy warhead hit its target at a proving ground in Kazakhstan, the state-run news agency RIA cited Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov as saying.
The move follows Russia's decision to send troops into the eastern Ukraine region of Crimea, claiming the lives of ethnic Russians living there were threatened by the political disorder in Ukraine.
More to come
|Rusia y China planean botar el Dolar como divisa mundial si USA sigue con amenazas de sanciones en contra Rusia.|
Rusia amenaza a EEUU con el colapso financiero si se acaban imponiendo sanciones económicas
Hace 2 horas
Un asesor de Putin afirma en prensa que si EEUU acaba imponiendo sanciones económicas a Rusia, esta se verá obligada a abandonar el dólar como divisa, lo que generaría el colapso del sistema financiero de EEUU.
El gobierno chino ha hecho una amenaza similar a Washington, asegurando que si EEUU mantiene la misma postura con respecto a Ucrania, exigiría a Washington el pago de sus obligaciones de deuda en oro.
El gobierno de China tiene en su poder más deuda estadounidense que todos los ciudadanos norteamericanos juntos.
Según Sergei Glaziev, asesor del Kremlin, si el Senado de EEUU acaba imponiendo sanciones económicas a Rusia, se verán obligados a cambiar la divisa y buscar un sistema propio de pago, abandonando el dólar como moneda para transacciones y comercio internacional.
“Vamos a tener que utilizar otras monedas, crear un sistema de pago en efectivo. Tenemos excelentes relaciones comerciales con nuestros socios en el Este y el Sur, y vamos a encontrar una manera de no sólo de restablecer nuestra dependencia financiera de los EEUU, si no que saldremos de esto con una gran ventaja frente a Estados Unidos, y es que las sanciones contra Rusia se convertirán en el colapso del sistema financiero de los EE.UU., lo que implicará la terminación de la dominación del dólar en el sistema financiero global “, – dijo en un entrevista para RIA Novosti.
Además, el asesor del Kremlin indicó que si Washington congela las cuentas de empresarios y altos cargos rusos, el Gobierno ruso podría recomendar a todos las personas que poseen bonos del Tesoro estadounidense que los vendan.
Actualmente, el Senado de EEUU está considerando sanciones contra Rusia en relación con la situación en Ucrania. El Presidente del Subcomité sobre Asuntos Europeos del Senado, Chris Murphy, dijo a periodistas que el Senado está facultado para imponer sanciones a los bancos rusos y fomentar la congelación de los activos de las instituciones públicas rusas y los inversores privados, así como de introducir restricciones de visados para los ciudadanos rusos.
China ya amenazó también a EEUU con llevar su economía al colapso
Por su parte el gobierno chino se ha mostrado como un importante aliado de Rusia en la gestión de la solución de la crisis en Ucrania. Según informaron medios rusos, el gobierno chino amenazó con exigir a EEUU el pago de sus obligaciones de deuda en oro si mantiene la misma actitud beligerante contra Rusia y el papel que la misma está desarrollando en Ucrania.
El gobierno de China tiene en su poder más deuda estadounidense que todos los ciudadanos norteamericanos juntos.
No en vano, los gobiernos extranjeros mantienen aproximadamente el 46% del total de la deuda de EEUU, siendo China el país que posee la mayor cantidad, en total 1,2 billones de dólares en letras, pagarés y bonos del estado.
La participación de China en la deuda de EEUU es de 1,2 billones de dólares, aún mayor que la cantidad en propiedad de los hogares estadounidenses. Según la Reserva Federal, los ciudadanos estadounidenses tienen alrededor de 959 mil millones en deuda de EEUU, 240.000 millones menos que el gobierno chino.
|Rusia ha dado un ultimatum hasta las 3am GMT o sea 11 horas de ahora, para que el ejercito de Ukrania se rinds o... Estados Unidos responde o se queda callado, arreglen sus pasaportes porque esto se puede poner feo...los que oran, oren.|
Russian forces are in de facto control of Crimea
The Russian military has given Ukrainian forces in Crimea until 03:00 GMT to surrender or face an assault, Ukrainian defence sources have said.
The head of Russia's Black Sea Fleet Aleksander Vitko set the deadline and threatened an attack "across Crimea".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said Russia was responding to "ultra-nationalist threats".
Western powers have condemned Moscow's decision to send troops as a "violation of Ukraine's sovereignty".
Russia is now said to be in de facto control of the Crimea region.
Ukraine has ordered full mobilisation to counter the intervention.
No shots have yet been fired in the region, which has a majority of Russian speakers and a largely pro-Russian local government.
The trouble began last month when pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted following months of street protests.
Russia claims its military is protecting human rights in Crimea, but Kiev, the US and Western Europe have condemned the actions.
|Madison — In the heat of the 2010 governor's race, Scott Walker urged both county employees and campaign aides to go to news websites and post comments promoting him and his record, newly unsealed documents show.|
In one instance in May 2010, for example, a close ally posted online a portion of a Walker email almost verbatim on a Journal Sentinel story just minutes after receiving the directive. Walker had sent the note to an inner circle that included county administrators as well as campaign operatives
Tapping out a message on his campaign Blackberry on the afternoon of May 4, 2010, Walker urged county aides, campaign staffers and other trusted volunteers to go to an online Journal Sentinel business story and respond to critics of his plan to privatize the airport in the comments section below the story.
"Someone should comment on the fact that the only way for the county to benefit from that success is to contract out operations," Walker wrote in an email. "Having a well performing airport increases the value that the county could receive."
A half-hour later, Brian Pierick — the boyfriend of Walker aide Timothy D. Russell — posted a comment on the story under the alias "WI_Calvin," calling rising airport traffic "another example of Scott Walker's outstanding leadership."
"The only way the county can to (sic) benefit from that success is to contract out operations. Having a well performing airport increases the value that the county could receive," Pierick wrote, adding only a single word to Walker's phrasing. Pierick and Russell were both later convicted of other activities in the secret probe.
Walker's airport directive came a little more than a week before he ousted county aide Darlene Wink after the Journal Sentinel reported she had been spending much of her government work hours posting anonymous political comments promoting Walker on the JS Online website.
At the time, Walker and his spokeswoman said he didn't know Wink was making anonymous postings on his behalf and that he had a strict policy against mingling campaign work with government services work paid for by taxpayers. The newspaper's report of Wink's activities led prosecutors to expand their secret investigation into Walker's county aides and associates.
On Friday afternoon, Walker repeated earlier statements that he didn't know about those close to him making anonymous postings on his behalf.
"Again, your information is incorrect," Walker told a reporter. "We actually let someone go after (columnist) Dan Bice from the Journal Sentinel let us know of someone who had done that."
Walker's campaign spokesman Jonathan Wetzel said Friday that emails asking people to post comments were not directives to government employees.
"The post was an observation made to a multitude of individuals. They were trusted to determine how best to handle that observation based on their own individual capacity," Wetzel said. "Neither the governor nor the campaign are aware of who made the post."
The post duplicated and carried out an email directive Walker sent to about two dozen people. Walker alsopublicly thanked @WI_Calvin through his Twitter account for his support during the 2010 campaign.
The 27,000 pages of records unsealed last week from the John Doe investigation don't appear to show Walker doing anything illegal. Prosecutors didn't file criminal charges against Walker or anyone in his current administration.
But the documents do reveal Walker was willing to engage himself and his staffs in comments about even short and minor news stories, with his aides concealing their identities behind Internet monikers or using private email accounts rather than official county ones. It was the mingling of campaign with government work that broadened and significantly extended the nearly three-year investigation.
Walker issued his May 2010 directive on website comments during the same period when some of his aides were crossing a line by anonymously posting about campaign matters while being paid by taxpayers.
Wink, Walker's constituent services coordinator, resigned on May 13, 2010, after the Journal Sentinel contacted Walker's county office about Wink's political postings on her boss' behalf under the alias "RPMCVP" — a reference to Wink's position with the county party.
One day after her resignation, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm asked the judge overseeing the John Doe investigation to allow prosecutors to look into possible illegal campaigning and other crimes by Walker aides.
The John Doe probe — which was conducted in secret — netted six convictions through plea deals.
Wink pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of fundraising for Walker in the county courthouse. Russell, Walker's former deputy chief of staff, pleaded guilty in 2012 to embezzling more than $21,000 from a fund for veterans and their families at the county. Pierick, Russell's business and domestic partner, was sentenced in 2013 to 50 hours of community service for contributing to the delinquency of a child.
Kelly Rindfleisch, another former deputy chief of staff to Walker, was sentenced in 2012 to six months in jail for campaign fundraising at the courthouse using a secret email system installed there. Rindfleisch's sentence was stayed while she appeals her conviction.
As a result of her appeal and a related lawsuit by the Journal Sentinel and other media organizations, an appellate court judge ordered last week's release of Rindfleisch's emails and other documents from the secret investigation.
Those emails show Walker prodding his staff to post on news websites on more than one occasion.
For Walker, no political detail was too small.
Early on Saturday, April 17, 2010, McLaughlin sent an email rounding up the day's headlines, as she routinely did. The email went to a mix of campaign staff, top county officials and Walker allies — about two dozen in all. Walker's top county staffers received the message on their private email accounts rather than their county ones, a step that kept the email exchange out of the public eye.
Walker responded by asking McLaughlin to comment on a Journal Sentinel story about the long-closed Calvin Moody Pool at 2200 W. Burleigh St.
"Fran, you should post a comment (since they did not ask our office) that notes that this was closed by (former County Executive) Tom Ament," Walker wrote.
Soon after, Walker sent a follow-up email telling her to contact the newspaper directly to tell a reporter the pool closed eight years earlier because of low attendance.It's not clear from the story if she ever did that.
On Aug. 21, 2010 — a Saturday — someone posted a lengthy comment to the Journal Sentinel site under the moniker "capt1." In one of the recently released emails, Cindy Archer — the county's administration head at the time — let Walker and other associates know that she was behind the post.
"I know you have all told me to stay off the blogs. Below is my post to the MJS story on federal $ for teachers. Perhaps this is something SKW should talk about," Archer wrote to her colleagues, using Walker's initials.
"Capt1" was a regular on the Journal Sentinel website in 2010 and early 2011, a period in which Archer also served as deputy administration secretary under Walker's state administration. "Capt1" posted 114 comments, most of them on weekends or before or after work hours on weekdays.
Seven were posted on a weekday between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon or 1 and 4 p.m., a review of the profile shows.
Neither Archer nor Pierick responded to a request for comment.
In other anonymous comments, both Pierick and Wink posted anonymously below a Journal Sentinel story on Oct. 1, 2009, about a rally at the courthouse seeking restoration of social services funding under Walker's county budget proposal.
"These people are coming out to complain just because they are so used to complaining or have been misled into doing so. Maybe the reporter and the dozens of people that are at the 'rally' should look at the budget a little closer," WI_Calvin posted at 3:45 p.m. that day.
Wink posted at 10:49 a.m. on Oct. 3: "Not all programs can continue to be funded — and the reason for that is Milwaukee County employee benefits — so I find it interesting that you have a story about the County Executive balancing his budget on the back of poor Milwaukee County employees and at the same time you report about the concerns of the disabled not getting enough funding from Milwaukee County."
In March 2010, the Journal Sentinel reported that Russell would be transferring from Walker's deputy chief of staff to become county housing director and would receive a $2,500 raise to just under $76,000 a year.
In a WI_Calvin comment, Pierick wrote that Russell was at the bottom of his pay range, concluding, "Pretty sloppy and biased reporting as usual."
Along with defending Walker on news stories, Pierick operated an anonymous pro-Walker blog called ScottForGov.com. In 2010, Walker's campaign and county officials said they had no tie to the website, but newly released records show Walker approved the name and launching of the blog.
At 2:55 p.m. on the day of Wink's resignation in May 2010, McLaughlin wrote Walker, his chief of staff Tom Nardelli, Rindfleisch and several campaign aides saying the Journal Sentinel wanted information about Wink's salary and whether she took time off during the day to work on campaigns.
By then, Wink had already talked to the newspaper.
"She has not let us know anything about this call and we had no idea she was doing this," McLaughlin wrote.
At 3:16 p.m., Nardelli responded to the group that he was concerned about potential charges and how it would look for Walker's office.
"This could be extremely serious for us from the standpoint of bad news, but potentially for her should there be an effort to seek charges i.e. Scott Jensen," he wrote, referring to the former Assembly speaker charged more than a decade ago with directing aides to campaign on state time. "We may be looking at a resignation, as it appears there are many, many emails throughout the work day. Worse yet, part of her salary is federally funded!"
Twelve minutes later, Walker wrote he wanted the matter investigated, but wasn't seeking an immediate termination or resignation as actually happened.
"If she was posting comments from her office computer, she has to be suspended pending an official review," he wrote. Wink resigned shortly thereafter.
Three months later, as the John Doe investigation ramped up, Archer wrote Walker and Rindfleisch to alert them that Russell's computer had been seized by prosecutors the day before. She also asked questions about a county employee suspected of doing political work for liberals on county time.
"My sense is taking some kind of discipline is not a high priority," Archer wrote. "Seems like a double standard given we had to sacrifice one of our own (Darlene) for something far less."
Journal Sentinel reporters Dave Umhoefer and Meg Kissinger and correspondent Jim Myers in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.
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