The latest Barrett campaign ads on the John Doe continue to be a bit challenged when it comes to things like accuracy. Let's look at a few of the allegations.
First, the ads complain that a private e-mail system that was set up
by some Walker employees was "illegal." That isn't true. It could be used
illegally but its mere existence violates no law. A commenter to my
last post on the subject asks whether it violates the open records law.
It doesn't, although it would be a violation if it were used to create
documents that qualify as "records" under the law that were then
withheld when requested. They may also be subject to certain retention
requirements. But not every document created by someone who works for the
government is a "record."
If the system were to be used to raise funds from county offices (as
the complaints against Wink and Rindfleisch alleged), that would be
illegal. Whether other political work would be criminal conduct (as
opposed to a violation of internal policy) is a a question deserving it
own post. The answer isn't as simple as it might seem.
Second, the ads argue that Walker ditched the "real numbers" on
employment. As has now been explained exhaustively, that is also false.
All of the job numbers that Walker used are "real numbers" frequently
relied on by economists. You can argue that Walker should have sat on
the QCEW numbers (which, if anything, are the "real" or best numbers) so
that the voters would have gone to the polls ignorant of them. But you
can't say that they are not "real."
Third, the ads maintain that there are thousands of e-mails that show
taxpayer funds used for Walker's campaign. I suppose there could be but
we haven't seen any. The criminal complaints allege that two people
raised money for a candidate other than Walker from their county
offices. That's not legal but it doesn't amount to taxpayer dollars
being used for Walker's campaign.
I could go on but here's the fundamental problem. In response to my
last post on the issue which pointed out that the DA's office has had
these e-mails for a long time and has not accused the Governor of
anything, some commenters argue that sometimes investigations go on for a
long time and he might someday issue charges that might involve or
reflect on the Governor.
I can't prove a negative. But I am pretty sure that it's a bad idea
to recall a sitting Governor because someone has conducted an
investigation and has not accused him of anything but, who knows, might
do so someday.
As I explained in my last post calls on the Governor to "release"
these e-mails are disingenuous. Even if he has them, he does not appear
to be free to release them or even to explain them.
But here's a thought experiment.
What would Tom Barrett say if he was called to release all personal
e-mails from his staff - those sent on private accounts and from private
devices - which mention him, Walker, the campaign, etc.? What would
I don't know. But since we are being called upon to speculate, here's
a reasonable surmise. Given the nature of political appointees, I
suspect that they would show some political activity by city employees
during normal business hours that was undertaken from city offices. That
would not scandalize me and, depending on the details, I wouldn't think
it would amount to a crime.
But I don't know. I also don't know that the John Doe investigation
has or will come anywhere close to an allegation against the Governor.
If I were running for political office, I would hope that I wouldn't
engage in speculation, innuendo and distortion about things I don't
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