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Guest views: Racist emails reflect poorly on Walker

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February 28, 2014

It seems some of Gov. Scott Walker's former staff members forgot the first rule of email, and it has cast them in a bad light that also has embarrassed Walker.  
The rule: Don't ever send an email to anyone that you wouldn't mind the whole world reading. Once you hit the send button, the shelf life of that communication is out of your hands.  
This lapse of judgment or just plain stupidity has a couple of former Walker aides looking like racist fools.  
The embarrassing correspondence is part of nearly 28,000 pages of records released recently relating to an investigation into Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch, who served as deputy chief of staff to Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive. Rindfleisch was convicted in 2012 of misconduct in office and sentenced to jail for doing campaign work for Republicans on government time.  
Among the many records released was one in which Rindfleisch received an emailed joke from a friend about someone whose dogs supposedly qualified for welfare because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddys are.”
Rindfleisch wrote back: “That is hilarious. And so true!”
In another email, sent in July 2010, Thomas Nardelli, Walker's chief of staff at Milwaukee County, forwarded Rindfleisch and others a joke about someone who has what he calls a “nightmare” about turning into a black, Jewish, disabled gay man who is unemployed.  
“Oh God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat,” the email concludes.  
Rindfleisch's lawyer argues that many of the emails released were personal and should not have been made public. That's an argument for open records experts to decide, but they were released, and there's no taking them back.  
The greater concern is that someone openly expressing such views is in public service to begin with. None of us can control the content of emails sent to us, but we have total control over what we do with them. And by responding to the “joke” from a friend the way she did provides shocking insight into Rindfleisch's shallow views toward minorities.  
Walker needs to be more careful who he surrounds himself with. First his staff patches him through to a fake “Koch brother,” and now revelations that some of his inner circle are racists are laid bare.  
If Walker truly has presidential aspirations, he'll have to run a much tighter ship and be far more careful about who he lets on board.
—Eau Claire Leader-Telegram



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