An email from Kelly Rindfleisch to Keith Gilkes, released as part of the John Doe investigation into illegal campaigning activities in the Milwaukee County Executive's office under Scott Walker, dated May 20, 2010.
Lots of dirty deeds appear in the secret emails Scott Walker's closest associates exchanged during his run for governor in 2010. They range from lampooning lieutenant governor candidate Rebecca Kleefisch to evading news media. The tone is often sharp and the language crude. Here are four of the more colorful terms that appear often in Walker's aides' conversations about the campaign over the course of 2010.
Saying "asshole" is grounds for firing in some workplaces. Not so for Walker's team. On at least five different occasions, they use the word to describe Steve Schultze, a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In a May 20 message to Friends of Scott Walker campaign manager Keith Gilkes, Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker's deputy chief of staff, mentions that Walker's chief of staff, Tom Nardelli, and Milwaukee County communications director Fran McLaughlin had "a major blowup" about how to handle Schultze's most recent inquiries. "When we know Scott won't be able to answer [a question from the media] it would be helpful for u guys to weigh in... I get both sides of it and not jumping for hoops for the asshole," she says.
Apparently "asshole" is shorthand for "It's not important to cooperate with this guy."
Parents often scold their toddlers for calling other kids dumb. But Walker's associates use "dumb" to blast just about anyone, including their own colleagues. At least nine uses of the word appear in the John Doe emails. Once again, Rindfleisch expresses her disgust for Schultze.
"Steve called and left voicemail about whether there are specific waivers to OT [overtime] restrictions for the BHD [the Milwaukee County mental health complex] medical directors. He said [county administrator] Geri [Lyday's] emails did not answer this question and it would go a long way to explaining the high OT charges," McLaughlin notes in an Oct. 8 email titled "MEDIA - Schultze on OT at BHD." This message went to Walker, Rindfleisch and several others.
"Why would there be waivers. Dumbass. That's my comments just to you," Rindfleisch replies.
Walker's inner circle uses f-bombs as casual insults and expressions of fear and worry.
"I just got my rolodex back and that fucking cunt took business cards out of it," Rindfleisch grumbles about a colleague in an Aug. 14 email to Kelly Teelin. The subject line of that email is "funt," a portmanteau of both expletives used by Rindfleisch in the message itself (and discussed in a Cap Times report). That unique expletive was also used in a July 23 email from Rindfleisch to Teelin.
The plain old f-word was used in an April 1 chat between Rindfleisch and fellow Walker staffer Tim Russell. Rindfleisch mentions a report associated with a potential lawsuit, noting that it "can't be released until the insurance claim is settled." She notes that Nardelli has been trying to deflect Schultze's questions about the situation and that county auditor Jerry Herr has requested a copy of the report.
"Fuck," Russell says, to which Rindfleisch replies, "Explaining [the situation] could open up the county to trouble and that’s why [Herr] can look at [the draft report] but not have a copy of it."
One of the most telling words in the John Doe emails is "crazy." It is used several times to describe patients at the Milwaukee County mental health center, where a scandal took place on Walker's watch.
"Last week was a nightmare. A bad story every day on our looney bin. Doctors having sex with patients, patients having sex with patients, patients getting knocked up," Rindfleisch wrote in a Sept. 2 email. "This has been coming for months and I've been unofficially dealing with it. So, its been crazy (pun intended)."
In a Sep. 1 email, Rindfleisch called these patients "crazy" and remarked that "no one cares about crazy people." Interestingly, she and Teelin discussed their own mental health struggles in much kinder terms a month earlier.
"Hey were you ever on Abilify?" Teelin asks Rindfleisch in an Aug. 2 email with a subject of "meds." [Abilify is used to treat depression, among other mental health issues.] "I'm thinking about changing my meds because I've been in a funk all summer and think I need a change."
"Nope, I haven't been on that one. I'm trying to reduce mine," Rindfleisch replies. "I would talk to your doc. Mine would usually add something to help boost the effect of the main one. You also build a tolerance," she writes in a subsequent message.
"That's what happened with the Prozac so I switched to Effexor. I might just try switching back to Prozac," Teelin responds.