As controversy swirled over a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City and a Quran-burning pastor in Florida, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker faced off in a gubernatorial debate on Sep. 24, 2010.
"Both of those are legal. Both of those are wrong," Walker said.
Barrett called for compromise between worshipers, the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks, and the neighbors of the proposed Islamic center.
"This is a situation where we should bring people together," Barrett said. "I think in this situation, let's find a way to allow people to worship, I think that's something that's important."
That response made him a "Muslim sympathizer" in the eyes of Tom Nardelli, Walker's former Milwaukee County chief of staff, according to one of the thousands of documents released last week as part of a John Doe investigation into Walker's office. The emails confirm that Walker's aides and campaign staff used a private email system to coordinate county and campaign business.
"I could actually envision both vets and non-vets sitting in their living rooms in Oshkosh, Green Bay, Brokaw, Lake Mills, Elkhorn, Hurley or even Dane County, concluding that there would be no way they would ever vote for a Muslim sympathizer as their next Governor!" Nardelli wrote in a Sept. 26, 2010 email to Walker and Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch, among others.
In July, Nardelli forwarded a racist email that was found among those released last week. In it, the joke revolved around a nightmare someone had about being black, Jewish, disabled, gay and unemployed. The kicker: "Oh God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat." And in April, Nardelli sent Walker an email about a physician working for Milwaukee County ">who had modeled thongs. Walker's response: "Get rid of the MD asap."
Nardelli resigned from a position with the Walker administration in July of 2011 as administrator for the State Division for Environmental and Regulatory Services. According to his LinkedIn profile, Nardelli is currently owner of Nardelli Consulting, LLC; however, the phone number listed for that firm is not in service.
He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the resignation had nothing to do with the John Doe probe.
Walker's and office and campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the email.