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Journalist: Walker aide’s emails reveal racist jokes, highlight mismanagement

KP Whaley

Wisconsin Public Radio

Although the release and analysis of emails from a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker is a story that many Wisconsinites are following closely, many national media outlets haven't been discussing the 27,000 pages of emails, which were compiled during the John Doe investigation. 

According to Joan Walsh, editor at large for, many outlets feel the story isn't significant enough to be covered nationally. She, however, disagrees with that decision.

“I find that kind of unbelievable,” she said, adding that not only did the national media ignore a story that clearly exposed coordinated efforts by top people to evade the law, but it also ignored a larger social issue that the emails exposed.

“I thought it would get more attention … and I particularly thought that the casual racism that was exposed in those emails, on top of the law-breaking that we know about and the fact that six people were convicted, the casual racism got shrugged off, too,” said Walsh.

She was referring to now-disclosed emails that revealed racist jokes by Walker's ex-aides.  According to Walsh, it speaks to the type of environment that Walker fostered in the office as Milwaukee County executive. 

Walsh's latest piece in Salon takes issue with Walker’s management of the county’s welfare program as county executive.  In it, she writes that he did such an “abysmal” job that the state was forced to take it over.  The article references a joke forwarded from Walker's former deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch 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."

“I talked to a lot of people who were really scandalized by that particular email,” said Walsh.  “People have been complaining that it’s a terrible, racist joke, but really, it’s worse when you think about Scott Walkers practices as Milwaukee County executive.  He actually ran the county’s welfare programs … so poorly that the state had to step in and take control of them.  The only one of 72 counties that happened to."