A judge has scheduled a plea hearing for Thursday in a case against Kelly Rindfleisch, a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was Milwaukee County executive. The news comes less than a week before the scheduled start of her criminal trial.
Online court records show the plea hearing was requested by the Milwaukee County district attorney's office, which charged Rindfleisch in January with four felonies for illegal campaigning. Rindfleisch was hired in 2010 by then-County Executive Walker, who quickly promoted her to deputy chief of staff. The DA alleged in a lengthy criminal complaint that Rindfleisch used the job to do campaign fundraising for Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Brett Davis, now Walker's state Medicaid Director.
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Political Science Professor Mordecai Lee says it's pretty common for prosecutors to include in plea deals a pledge of cooperation with any ongoing investigations, "Well, I think that we can afford to wait a couple of news cycles until we know for sure. But generally speaking, it's sort of the way prosecutions work that they insist on cooperation."
Without a plea agreement, Rindfleisch faces the prospect of up to 14 years in prison.
Rindfleisch was charged as part of an ongoing John Doe investigation involving several former Walker aides. The governor has not been charged. He was subpoenaed by defense lawyers to testify in the Rindfleisch case if it went to trial.