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Intro: "About a dozen law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, raided the home of a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday as part of a growing John Doe investigation."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaking at the Wisconsin State Capitol. (photo: Getty Images)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaking at the Wisconsin State Capitol. (photo: Getty Images)



FBI Raids Home of Scott Walker's Former Top Aide

By Jason Stein, Patrick Marley, Steve Schultze and Daniel Bice, Journal Sentinel

15 September 11

 

bout a dozen law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, raided the home of a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday as part of a growing John Doe investigation.

The home on Dunning St. on Madison's east side is owned by Cynthia A. Archer, who was until recently deputy administration secretary to the Republican governor. Archer, 52, now holds a different state job but is on paid sick leave, records show.

"We're doing a law enforcement action," one of the FBI agents told a reporter.

He didn't identify himself or provide further comment but confirmed that he and three others were with the FBI and that a Dane County sheriff's deputy was present.

The raid on Archer's home coincides with a John Doe investigation in Milwaukee County.

That probe was started last year after the Journal Sentinel reported that another Walker staffer who was being paid by Milwaukee County taxpayers to help citizens with county services was instead using her work time to post anonymous comments supporting candidate Walker on websites and blogs. As part of the investigation, authorities earlier seized the work computers of two former Walker staffers and executed a search warrant of one of their homes.

Archer, who also held the top staff position under Walker while he served as Milwaukee County executive, said as recently as Friday in an email to the Journal Sentinel that she was "not involved in any way in the John Doe investigation."

John Doe investigations are secret proceedings in which witnesses can be subpoenaed and compelled to testify under oath about potential criminal matters and are forbidden from talking publicly about the case. Sources said prosecutors have been looking into whether county staffers were doing political work while on the clock and failing to do county jobs.

The governor's campaign retained former US Attorney Steven Biskupic after it received a subpoena for campaign emails shortly before last year's November election. His campaign has paid nearly $60,000 to Biskupic's firm, Michael Best & Friedrich, in the first half of the year.

Agents Removed Items

Archer's neighbors said about a dozen law enforcement officers arrived Wednesday sometime before 7 a.m. One agent took photos of the house, and others wore jackets that said they were responsible for gathering evidence.

Around 9 a.m., a reporter saw four FBI agents - two of them wearing latex gloves - talking in Archer's backyard before going into her house. Later, one removed a large box and put it in the trunk of an FBI car. They left about 10 a.m.

The FBI also seized the hard drive from a computer that a neighbor had bought from Archer six to eight weeks ago at a garage sale.

Next-door neighbor Dale Riechers said he had never turned on the computer because he was planning to work on it later in the fall. He told the agents about the hard drive and they asked to take it, Riechers said.

When a reporter rang Archer's doorbell shortly after the FBI left, no one answered the door.

Archer has owned the house since 1988. Neighbors said Archer rented out the house during her years working for Walker in Milwaukee, but moved back this year after getting the state job.

At least one of the agents came from the FBI's Milwaukee office, according to a card left with Riechers.

Archer didn't return messages left on her personal cellphone or an email sent to her personal account on Wednesday.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said that he had no comment and that the governor would not take questions on the issue Wednesday. Walker was in the Capitol meeting with business executives, cabinet officials and lawmakers, Werwie said.

Walker has previously said he has not been contacted personally by prosecutors. He said officials asked his campaign last year for emails and information apparently related to the staffer who was posting pro-Walker messages on websites during work time.

Officials at the US attorney's offices in the eastern and western districts of Wisconsin declined to comment on the search. Leonard Peace, spokesman for the Milwaukee office of the FBI, referred questions about the search to the Milwaukee County district attorney's office.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm also declined to comment.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said one of his deputies had been placed at Archer's house during the search at the request of investigators from Chisholm's office. Mahoney said his office wasn't involved in the investigation.

Sources indicated that Chisholm's office continues to take the lead in the case of Walker's former county staffers, with federal authorities providing assistance with computers and other digital technology.

Previous Seizures

Milwaukee County prosecutors launched the probe at about the same time Darlene Wink quit her county job as Walker's constituent services coordinator in May 2010 after admitting that she was frequently posting online comments on Journal Sentinel stories and blogs while on the county clock. Nearly all of her posts praised Walker or criticized his opponents.

Authorities later took her work computer and that of Tim Russell, a former Walker campaign staffer who was then working as county housing director, and executed a search warrant of Wink's home.

Neither Wink nor Russell landed a job with the state when Walker took office in January. Wink did not seek a state job, said her attorney, Christopher Wiesmueller.

Wiesmueller said he didn't see any clear connection between his client and the search of Archer's home. He said Wink hadn't had clear boundaries and had sometimes done political Web postings and emails at her county job and had also done county work at home.

"We're talking about an unsupervised employee doing things she shouldn't be. What Darlene was doing, she was definitely doing on her own," Wiesmueller said. "I understand what (prosecutors') argument would be, but I don't think she broke the law."

Asked Wednesday about the John Doe, Russell's attorney refused comment. "I don't have anything I can discuss," Michael Maistelman said.

Sources have said the investigation has increasingly focused on the activities of Archer and Tom Nardelli, Walker's former county chief of staff.

Archer and Nardelli were Walker's top two lieutenants for the past three years of his eight-year tenure as county executive, including the busy months leading up to the November election. Both eventually followed Walker to Madison from Milwaukee County after the former county executive won the governor's race in November.

Nardelli quit his state job as administrator for the Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services in July. That was three days after he had accepted the job, a transfer from another state administrative position. Nardelli was Walker's chief of staff in the county executive's office.

Nardelli said Wednesday that he knew nothing about the reason for the FBI visit to Archer's home and that no law enforcement had visited his home. Nardelli has previously said he hasn't been contacted by the authorities in the John Doe investigation.

Archer, who abruptly left her top post with Walker's administration last month for "personal family matters," had another politically appointed job under the governor already lined up.

She took a $25,000 pay cut in moving to a position at the Department of Children and Families, but the nearly $100,000 salary in that job is still tens of thousands of dollars more than the pay of others who have had the job.

The department released records Wednesday that showed Archer began taking paid, personal leave time on Aug. 16. On Aug. 22 - what was to be her first day at the Department of Children and Families - her leave time was changed to medical leave, records show.

Emails released under the state's open records law showed Archer initially planned to return on Sept. 19. It was unclear from more recent emails whether Archer still planned to return on that date.

Before she abruptly quit on Aug. 19, she was making $124,000 as deputy secretary in the state Department of Administration, the agency that oversees state contracts, the state budget, the state workforce and other key government functions. At the time, state officials said only that Archer had taken a personal leave of absence, giving no details on reasons for the leave, how soon she'd come back or what her duties would be.

Archer, in her resignation letter emailed to Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, said simply that she was done with her job that same day.

But documents provided by the state show she actually was already hired a day earlier, on Aug. 18, to the $99,449-a-year job in the Department of Children and Families, as the department's legislative liaison. That's according to a letter released Friday from Eloise Anderson, who heads the department. Archer's appointment to the new job was effective Aug. 20.

Anderson said Monday that Archer has a higher salary than her predecessor because of Archer's extensive background in state and local government and higher educational attainment.

On Aug. 25, Archer said by email that she would leave any announcement about her leave of absence or eventual return to a state job to the governor's office. But Walker's office has sent questions on Archer to the department she left and to the one to which she is now assigned.

The John Doe investigation has already resulted in one conviction.

William Gardner, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., was sentenced to two years' probation after pleading guilty to two felony violations of state campaign finance laws for exceeding the donation limits and laundering donations to Walker and other Wisconsin politicians.


John Diedrich and Steve Schultze of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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+170 # coffeewriter 2011-09-15 17:55
Are these the same people that are complaining about the country's teachers who earn $48000 a year and actually do their jobs??? State workers should suck it up, de-unionise and take cuts in benefits right? Unless they're Walker's cronies. The system is sick.
 
 
+58 # susienoodle 2011-09-15 23:09
Hopefully this will help us in the recall effort we can support starting in January. He and all his crones need to go and soon.
Yes, they are so vile. And all those corrupted election results in recent years in Wisc too. It's almost as bad as Ohio. And I'm from there.
A real shame.
 
 
+53 # objectiveobserver 2011-09-15 23:09
Yes, the system is sick of systemic abuse of power. It does seem that the Republicans are so "anti-governmen t" that they see the constitution as their enemy and are running roughshod over it at every turn... and they are getting away with it! Thank you to the Reader Supported News for bringing this article to a wider audience in so timely a manner.
 
 
+6 # Pancho 2011-09-15 23:46
Beam her up, Scotty.
 
 
+1 # Pancho 2011-09-15 23:52
Beam her up, Scotty!

Hurry! The Klingons are upon her.
 
 
+46 # giraffe 2011-09-15 23:53
Why hasn't the "lame stream" media picked up this? It would certainly help those in OH (where Ed Shultz is this week) where they are trying to do the same to their Gov as WI has (will) do to Walker - unless the FBI completes their JOB before 2012 -- WE all know Walker and the other GOP/TP governors (under direction of the Koch Brothers) have abused the rules to get elected (under false pretenses, etc) -- so much has gone wrong with these Corporate supported elected GOP/TP people.

The Supremes who passed this "person hood" UNCONSTITUTIONA L decision must have also been paid BIG $$$ (Scalia, Thomas, ALiota are being investigated - heard it on Current TV on the Olberman show)

VOTE in 2012 - and vote DEMOCRATIC - even if they aren't totally clean either -- I cannot stand the thought of Perry (or etc) being President of USA - so vote for Obama PLEASE --- if he wins so will many Dems in Congress ---
 
 
+26 # ABen 2011-09-16 10:10
Let's hope the Walker recall is successful, the people of Wisconsin deserve someone better than this shill for the Koch brothers and their cronies. Unfortunately, I don't think Ohio has a recall provision in their constitution, and will have to put up with Kasich for four years. I guess elections do have consequences. I sense a great deal of "buyers remorse" in Wis, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida. If you know someone who wants to "send a message" during elections season, tell them to do it the old fashioned way--paper and pen.
 
 
+46 # Doctoretty 2011-09-16 06:26
Is anyone surprised? There is lots to suggest that Walker and his cronies resort to unethical if not illegal maneuverings of all kinds. (Remember the "fake" Koch brother phone conversation?) Walker is only one of a few GOP Governors that have questionable behavior. Rick Scott in Florida is another one. We are dealing with a Republican party that is as corrupt as it was in Nixon's day.
 
 
+31 # GeeRob 2011-09-16 08:27
The Governor with the most questionable behavior, hands down, is the GOP crush, Rick Perry.
 
 
+4 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-16 12:30
Then I would put Pa Governor past and present...Ridge now Corbett
 
 
+15 # X Dane 2011-09-16 12:46
Doctoretty, unfortunately the governor of Pennsylvania is a real nasty guy too. He is working on changing the rules of winner take all of the electoral votes.
Instead if the repub. gets 10 and Obama gets 11 he will only get one instead of 21??????? That will hurt Pennsylvania in many ways.
The right wing is doing all and everything to win. Nothing is beneath them. It will be VERY, VERY important for us to vote democratic. I understand that many are dissappointed with Obama, even disgusted. But a republican would be SO MUCH WORSE. Remember the last 8 Bush years? UGH. We can't let that happen. We need to fight for our rights. Giving up, IS NOT AN OPTION.
 
 
+29 # reiverpacific 2011-09-16 08:35
"Archer, 52, now holds a different state job but is on paid sick leave, records show."
Isn't "Paid sick leave" one of these things that Walkers and his agitating sponsors "Americans for Prosperity (for a few!)" a la the Kochers against so stridently?
Not that the FBI have much credibility in my book but go figure this patchwork of deceit as par for the political course, especially in these times.
 
 
+19 # shortonfaith 2011-09-16 10:02
Thank you John & Steve for following this & not letting Walker out of your sites. The King & his cronies will hopefully see the error of their ways when the FBI comes crashing thru the front door of the Governors office, gathering up his computers & personnel. Thank you FBI agents for making sure that cronyism government stays illegal & doesn't become too common place in America. They may have a strong foothold in some court systems but, we still have good people in the Police & FBI. Each willing to make sure stealing tax dollars stays within the law.

Keep up the strong fight against those who'd believe they're entitled to live highly off the people sweat. It has become too common officials hire staff to do their bidding against the very same people who's tax dollars they steal. That they'd believe once they've been placed in a high position, they deserve to do any & all things with absolute protection. That they are above the law & those FBI guys are there to protect them, completely. You want to dress your self in fine linen with the taxpayer dollar? How about some nice cement shoes to fill out that wardrobe?

Keep up the good fight & good reporting
 
 
+14 # Daisy 2011-09-16 11:19
# Doctoretty,
Beginning to wonder if Nixon's crew was amateurs vs the new crowd? The diffence seems to be that the funding sources (Koch Bros, et al)are having their own conventions and the technology for manipulating the people is better and faster. Likewise, the methods of outing the rascals has been improved. We are indeed living in interesting times. Hope we continue to get information on thenext Koch gathering and further news of their funded governors. Our only hope is that we can still fight back. Like the Supreme Court will be on our side!
 
 
+9 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-16 12:54
This is again the Employment Status for Republicans. Putting their friends in jobs or creating the jobs for them.
I hope Gov Walker and Koch Bros have the money to keep pay them all. Once that snitch, blackmail thing works it never goes away.

Any employee on the people's dime doing work other than job, should be fired. Too many get away with it. Want budget to work, downsize the staff. Re look all those new agencies, and departments put in when new guy/gal takes office. Most of those jobs are payoffs, not necessary
 
 
+16 # propsguy 2011-09-16 16:00
whatever they find, i hope it implicates walker and lands him in prison for life. there, he might have to work for a living
 
 
+8 # michelle 2011-09-17 10:57
Preferably a prison in Arizona where he is housed in a tent and they charge his wife $25 to visit him.
 
 
+3 # bigkahuna671 2011-09-18 13:37
I'm an Arizonan who is embarassed by the state of our State. We have wacko pols like our Gov, Brewer, and a county sheriff named Arpaio (he of the tents and visiting fees) who believes he's more powerful than the Prez and on a higher moral plain than God. Walker's trying hard to prove he's as goofy as Brewer and as self-righteous and self-serving as Arpaio. The folks in Wisconsin failed to throw the bums out in their last recall effort. This January, they need to get it right and throw Walker out. If that doesn't work, maybe one of Sarah Palin's pals will put him in their crosshairs...
 

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