Racist Emails Passed Around by Wis. Governor's Staff

Republican Scott Walker survived a recall effort. But would voters have kept him in office if they had known about or seen these offensive emails?

By Chris Hoenig


An investigation into potential illegal campaign work by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's staff has turned up an entirely separate revelation: His staff is loaded with people who think racism and ethnic and cultural stereotypes are funny.

More than 27,000 emails and hundreds of court documents were released last week as the investigation and the legal proceedings stemming from it closed. Among them are several racist and inflammatory emails attacking President Obama and Blacks nationwide.

One depicts President Obama as an "Acorn cap with the nut still attached."

The picture is a Photoshopped 2004 image of the President that added a cigarette and an acorn cap in an apparent reference to the scandal involving the Association of Community Organizations for Report Now, or ACORN.

Also included were at least two racist emails. In one, a short story titled "THE NIGHTMARE," the narrator tells of a "nightmare" he has in which he wakes up to discover that he is Black, gay, Jewish and disabled. This email was forwarded in 2010 by Thomas Nardelli, who was Walker's Chief of Staff when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive.

The narrator talks of "being very depressed, downcast, sitting in a chair" at the realization that he is Black and Jewish, before discovering that he has "a Mexican boyfriend" and is in a wheelchair. "Desperate, I begin to shout, cry, pull my hair, and Oh, nooooo…I'm bald," the narrator says. The "nightmare" continues with the realization that he is unemployed, has one hand and a pacemaker.

Of course, as the story ends, the narrator realizes he can "handle" all that. "But please don't tell me I'm a Democrat!"

The other, also forwarded in 2010, by Kelly Rindfleisch—then Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff—with the comments that it is "hilarious" and "so true," includes the image of four dogs. Beneath it is a story attacking welfare recipients.

"This morning I went to sign my dogs up for welfare," the chain email reads. "At first the lady said, 'Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare'. So I explained to her that my dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no friggin clue who their Daddys are. They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty because they are dogs.

"So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify.

"My Dogs get their first checks Friday."

The investigation determined that Rindfleisch and other Walker staff members brought laptops and a secret wireless router into Walker's office to run his campaign for governor while on the clock and being paid by taxpayers. These emails were traded by Walker's staff members on private email addresses during that time.

Rindfleisch pleaded guilty to felony misconduct in office in 2012 and was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation. Nardelli quit as the administrator for the state Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services just days after being put in that post by Walker.

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