Two months ago, I questioned how Tim Russell was paying for not just one, but two, high caliber attorneys, Michael Maistelman and Andrew Franklin. I noted that at the time, Russell allowed his house to be foreclosed on, which was an indication to me that he was having some serious money troubles. (Which is, unfortunately, something that most of Fitzwalkerstan can relate to after nearly sixteen months of Walker’s malicious rule.)
Two weeks later, almost as if I had jinxed them, Russell lost one of his attorneys, Franklin. Franklin was quickly replaced by Attorney John A. Birdsall.
However, Birdsall didn’t last long either, and was gone within a month’s time. Again, per the article, I sensed there were some money concerns between Russell, Maistelman and Franklin..
Now, Russell is on his third criminal defense attorney, David Krueger. I’m thinking things will go more smoothly, at least as far as representation goes, since Krueger works with Maistelman and is also a conservative. This will make billing easier since there is only one firm to contend with and Russell should have a higher trust level with a fellow conservative.
So why do I bring all this up now?
Well, due to an open records request from WisPolitics.com, they just unsealed the transcripts from the hearing in which Attorney Franklin moved to withdraw from the case. And once you go through the 55 pages (pdf) of transcript, and move past the hemming and the hawing, you realize that it was indeed, for the most part, a money issue. That, and two law firms fighting over the same bone.
Russell was/is in arrears for thousands of dollars to Maistelman. When Franklin got a hefty retainer fee, Maistelman wanted part of it to help defray his costs. And that’s where the problems started to boil over.
There are, however, some very interesting points from the transcripts that need to be highlighted.
At the bottom of page 15, ADA Bruce Landgraf, the lead prosecutor for Russell’s case, makes mention of a possible plea bargain. Maybe John Doe will be voting in the recall after all.
The next really curious point comes on page 22 (emphasis mine):
ATTORNEY FRANKLIN: February 3rd, I received a $2,000 retainer from someone on behalf of my client. The second that — Now, the second I reported back to Attorney Maistelman that I received that, he e-mailed me saying that he wanted a thousand dollars out of it for prior work that had been done. Something that we had never discussed. I-emailed him and said basically what the heck are you talking about.
Throughout the transcripts, it never says who that generous “someone” is. I don’t think it was Russell, since he was apparently having money problems already. It could be from an innocuous source, like a friend or family member trying to help Russell out.
But then again, could it have been Walker? Could it have been one of Walker’s benefactors, like the Bradley Foundation, the Koch Brothers or one of themyriad of front groups? After all, Walker did set up the legal cooperation fund that would cover not only his own hide, but also those of his agents.
Sadly, unless the unidentified benefactor comes forward, we will never know, but it should sure as hell be raising red alarms for anyone. How far will Walker and his supporters go to cover up the crimes committed? Was there anything else promised to Russell if he doesn’t turn state’s witness?
And now for the big news.
I have learned from a source familiar with Walkergate that Walker is offering assistance to Kelly Rindfleisch.
She is reportedly working for one of Walker’s vendors, a communications/consultancy firm, although I have not determined the exact name. I will let you know once I have it confirmed.
The word also is that Keith Gilkes, Walker’s campaign manager, is helping her raise funds for her defense, which, like Russell’s, must be reaching a considerable total by now.
Wouldn’t it be something if it turns out that Walker is using his legal cooperation fund to help Rindfleisch? He would be declaring her his agent, which would only confirm that she was campaigning on county time. And yes, I do seriously believe that Walker and his team are dumb enough and arrogant enough to do this and not think twice about it.
Something tells me that Walker and his crew aren’t doing this just to help a friend out in need. I would say it would be rather safe to presume that Team Walker, both the over and the covert campaign teams, are scared to death. However, in my layman’s analysis and ten years of knowing Walker, they are mostly just postponing the inevitable.