Republican National Committee
RNC: "Walker had received the full endorsement from the party organization."
A Republican National Committee spokesperson is defending a 2010 email sent by former Republican Party of Wisconsin chair Reince Priebus to Scott Walker, in which he tipped off the then gubernatorial candidate on his primary opponent's confidential campaign strategy.
Deputy Press Secretary Ryan Mahoney says Priebus' support of Walker was "allowed," since the state party was already backing him against opponent Mark Neumann.
"[B]y July 1, 2010, the Wisconsin GOP governing body had endorsed Governor Walker," Mahoney wrote in an email Thursday to Isthmus. "So while Chairman Priebus was supporting Gov. Walker, it’s because Walker had received the full endorsement from the party organization which allowed him to do so and this was all very public at the time."
"Neumann will be looking at two areas very soon -- the county debt and how it is calculated -- something about 'mortgaging the future' and why Walker dropped out of college," Priebus wrote to Walker, then Milwaukee County executive.
When asked why the subject line of Priebus' email suggested the disclosure of proprietary information, Mahoney said, "I'm not sure it matters what the subject line says. The state party's endorsement was very public."
What is clear is that Priebus' email made it into the secret email system used in Walker's county office that mixed county and campaign business. It was released Wednesday among thousands of documents related to the John Doe probe of Scott Walker's former aides.
Walker forwarded Priebus' email to one of his top county aides, Cindy Archer. He asked that information be prepared to respond to the areas noted in Priebus' email.
"Get me all the facts I can get on the debt. Plus, I should go over the POBs [pension obligation bonds]."
Walker had backed the issuing of $400 million in pension obligation bonds to cover a large shortfall in the county's pension system. Tom Barrett, Walker's Democratic challenger in the general election, later attacked the strategy in a campaign ad, accusing Walker of passing on pension debt to future generations.
Archer responded to Walker early the next day: "Let's talk this morning about what kind of data would be most helpful to you."
She copied Walker aides Tom Nardelli and Kelly Rindfleisch as well.
UW political science professor Kenneth Mayer says that normally party officials stay out of primaries, at least publicly. But, he adds, "Even when party people are not taking official public positions, they frequently will communicate through back channels."
It was no secret that the party establishment did not take to Neumann, a conservative former congressman and home builder.
"My sense is that... they didn't see Neumann making a positive contribution to the brand," says Mayer.
Neumann did not return calls for comment.