Bruce Murphy
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Private Email System Built in 2002 for Walker Staff?

County’s human resources assistant director tells State Journal Walker’s staff installed system in 2002.

By - Mar 3rd, 2014 02:28 pm
Gov. Scott Walker. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

On Saturday, the Wisconsin State Journal ran a story quoting Bob Kiefert, a retired Milwaukee County human resources assistant director, saying he helped install a private email system in the office of then County Executive Scott Walker back in 2002.

Kiefert said he was called into Walker’s office by then-deputy chief of staff Tim Russell in 2002, after Walker was first elected county executive. “Kiefert showed Russell how to set up a hard-wired Internet connection using a DSL modem and a telephone line,” the State Journal reported. “The network allowed county executive staff to send and receive emails and surf the Web outside the public system set up by the county’s Information Management Services Division in 1998.”

“…Kiefert, now retired and a Democratic Party activist in Green Bay who runs a website called Green Bay Progressive and signed the petition to recall Walker, first disclosed that he helped set up the system in a blog entry last week.”

“…Walker campaign spokesman Jonathan Wetzel said, in reference to Kiefert, “That a recent blog post by a Democrat Party activist, unsubstantiated in any way whatsoever, is being reported as factual is ridiculous.”

“…Marquette Law School professor and former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, who served as interim county executive for three months before Walker took office, said her staff had access to the Internet and email through the county’s network. She said she doesn’t understand why there would have been a need for a separate network.

“‘It seems obvious to me that when you have communications among staff members that they’re open records,’ Geske said. ‘What’s the point of doing a secondary email except to keep them from being open records?’”

“…Investigators found evidence in one of the county executive’s offices that the system involved a 3G broadband Internet connection and wireless router, and an AT&T broadband account paid for by Russell with a service start date of Oct. 16, 2009,” the story reported. “Kiefert said the 3G broadband network described in the complaint is a faster, more modern version of the equipment he helped install in 2002.”

Kiefert’s account, if true, would suggest the Walker administration had a secret email system during his entire eight year tenure as county executive.

Urban Milwaukee has quoted a source with access to the offices of Gov. Walker who says a number of his staffers used private laptop computers and private gmail accounts during work hours and that staff we’re told after the prosecutors raided raid. After John Doe prosecutors raided the Madison home of Walker aide Cindy Archer, signaling the investigation was moving from Milwaukee to Madison, the governor’s staff were told to stop using their private email for political work and “pick up the phone and call,” so there is no written record.

The AP did a story which reported that just two months after the raid on Archer’s home, “Gov. Scott Walker began requiring his top agency officials and staff members to sign a pledge that they wouldn’t do illegal campaign work while on state time.”

To date, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel hasn’t shared the information from any of these stories with its readers.

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