MADISON (WITI) -- Over 26,000 emails released on Wednesday, February 19th from the private Gmail account belonging to Kelly Rindfleisch - a former aid to now-Governor Scott Walker show Walker routinely used his own private email account to communicate with his staff on their private accounts. But does that mean he knew his staff was doing campaign work on county time?
Kelly Rindfleisch served as Walker’s Deputy Chief of Staff in 2010 when he was County Executive. She is one of six people convicted of crimes in connection with a secret John Doe investigation led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.
In 2012, Rindfleisch was convicted of felony misconduct in public office for doing campaign work on county time. That case revealed that Rindfleisch, whose office was located two doors down from the future Governor, was using a laptop and wireless internet router that were not connected to the county’s computer network to do campaign work during the workday. She was convicted in October of 2012 and sentenced to six months in jail, but that sentence was placed on hold while she appeals.
Within the over 26,000 pages of emails just unsealed, one thing is clear. As County Executive Scott Walker was running for governor in 2010, he routinely communicated with his staff through private email.
A search of the documents generates thousands of hits for the personal emails of Walker and his staff members.
His executive assistant's Yahoo account comes up more than a thousand times.
His chief of staff's Road Runner account comes up nearly 2,000 times.
His director of communication's campaign email comes up more than 6,600 times.
Walker's own campaign email address, SKW@ScottWalker.org produces more than 9,000 hits.
Still, Marquette School of Law Professor Charles Franklin says that leaves room for ambiguity.
"What was the content of those emails. How was he involved in it?" Franklin asks.
Walker has always maintained he was not aware his staff was campaigning during work hours.
"We have an overall policy that people weren`t to use county resources on county time to be involved in political activities," Walker has said.
However, the transcript of a John Doe hearing released on Wednesday shows prosecutors believe Walker was aware that staffers were using laptops over wireless networks that were separate from the county's computer network.
The transcript points to an email Walker sent after one of his aides was caught posting campaign material online during the day.
"We cannot afford another story like this one. That means no laptops," Walker wrote.
Two hours later, his deputy chief of staff wrote to another staffer: "Already broken down and put away. Laptop is packed."
So if Walker knew his staff was breaking the law, Franklin asks - why didn't prosecutors charge him?
"Clearly the prosecutors had access to all of these emails, and the prosecution decided not to make a case against Scott Walker," Franklin said.
In the end, Franklin says partisans will disagree. The question is, will it have any impact on voters?
"Or lead them to shrug their shoulders and say, 'well I already knew that.' Or, 'that`s business as usual.' I think that`s up in the air at this point," Franklin said.
Gov. Walker's campaign on Wednesday issued a statement noting that the John Doe investigation is closed, and saying Gov. Walker is confident the emails were thoroughly reviewed by the authorities.