By Matthew Rothschild on January 07, 2012

The three arrests this week in the ongoing John Doe investigation in Wisconsin bring the stench of scandal ever closer to Scott Walker.

One of those arrested, Timothy Russell, was Walker’s deputy chief of staff in Milwaukee County. Russell is charged with embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from a fund for wounded soldiers, vets, and the families of fallen soldiers.

If the allegation is true, Walker is guilty of, at the very least, being a terrible judge of character and engaging in cronyism.

Russell was an aide to Walker for a decade. According to the complaint, Walker decided to take the running of the fund drive called Operation Freedom, which Walker sponsored as county executive, away from the American Legion, which had done nothing wrong, and hand it over to an organization Russell had just set up, the Heritage Guard Preservation Society.

According to the complaint, Russell then embezzled money to go on vacations to Hawaii and the Caribbean. Another Walker aide Kevin Kavanaugh, was also charged with embezzling.

The third person charged, Brian Pierick, is Russell’s partner, and he was charged with felony child enticement and causing a child to expose his genitals.

The charges against Pierick are unwarranted, I believe, because they had nothing to do with the purpose of the initial investigation. In searching Russell’s and Pierick’s computers for evidence about the alleged embezzlement, law enforcement stumbled upon salacious internet chatting between Pierick and an eager young man who assured him he was eighteen, but according to the complaint, was only seventeen. This is the worst kind of prurience and sexual witch-hunting, which prosecutors should not be allowed to engage in.

But leaving that aside, the arrests certainly don’t make Walker look any better, even though one of his staffers originally alerted authorities that there might be a problem with the Operation Freedom funds.

Plus, other shoes may still drop in the John Doe investigation.

--Cynthia Archer, one of the chief architects of Walker’s assault on labor union rights, had her home raided by the FBI last fall.

--Walker’s press secretary has already received immunity.

--A big Walker fundraiser has received immunity.

--And William Gardner, CEO of Wisconsin and Southern Railroad and a huge Walker contributor, pled guilty to violating the campaign finance laws by blatantly giving employees money that they were then supposed to donate to Walker.

On top of that, as my colleague Ruth Conniff has noted, Walker and his Republican cronies, including State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gabelman, are up to their eyeballs in cronyism with a Republican law firm in Wisconsin.

It would be ironic if the stench of scandal – and not Walker’s crushing of labor unions -- persuades enough Wisconsin voters to send him packing.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story After Iowa, “Game On” or “Game Over”? And Will Ron Paul Bolt?

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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