This morning, a criminal complaint filed in circuit court alleges that William Gardner, the president and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., skirted campaign donation laws by soliciting employees to give to Scott Walker’s campaign and then reimbursing them, in what amounts to two felony counts. It has also come out that Walker’s campaign then reimbursed Gardner and seven additional railroad employees to the tune of $43,800, which indicates a criminal probe is imminent of Walker’s campaign.
The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
It’s illegal to direct company funds to political campaigns in the state. But William Gardner, the president and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., told the state last May that he gave company money to reimburse employees for making political donations to Gov. Scott Walker and other political candidates.
Gardner was charged Monday morning with two felony counts of violating campaign finance laws, including charges of excessive political contributions and unlawful political contributions…
Last May, Walker’s campaign reimbursed Gardner and seven additional railroad employees $43,800, spokeswoman Jill Bader said at the time.
Wisconsin state law states that , “No person may, directly or indirectly, make any contribution other than from funds or property belonging to the contributor. No person may, directly or indirectly, furnish funds or property to another person for the purpose of making a contribution in other than the person’s own name. No person may intentionally accept or receive any contribution made in violation of this subsection.” Furthermore, the law elaborates, “The unit of prosecution under sub. (1) is every transfer of funds to another person accompanied by the false listing of any single contributor. An individual illegally furnishing funds from a corporate account may be convicted under sub.”
The state might be trying to get William Gardner to testify against Walker with the two felony counts. If this is legitimate, the people of Wisconsin have more than enough reason to oust Walker. If it’s unclear how serious this is, think Tom DeLay.
A pattern of systemic corruption within the Wisconsin Republican Party is being established by recent events. What we have here is a pattern of reckless disregard for the law, which I deeply suspect will eventually rear its head in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race as well, though we don’t know exactly how yet. But the Walker administration and the Republicans in the state Senate and House have established a pattern of violating the law, now topped off by allegations against a donor of violations of campaign laws.
At 2PM Wisconsin time, the state Government Accountability Board and Milwaukee County district attorney’s office will have a press conference to discuss the news of their investigation. A criminal probe is heading Walker’s way or has already hit.
If the GAB and DA can prove their allegations and the probe extends to Walker’s campaign itself, it suggests that Walker and his gang are not only corrupt, but inept criminals who have brazenly broken the law at every turn in an executive power grab that will go down in history as an example of what not to do.