A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker who is now a top University of Wisconsin official was under investigation for several suspected felonies as part of the now-closed John Doe investigation into Walker’s Milwaukee County executive office.With that in mind, check out this passage as part of an in-depth Politico article that goes over the death throes of the Walker 2016 campaign, and look who’s in the room helping to make big decisions after Walker does nothing in the second GOP debate.
No charges were filed against Jim Villa, the UW System’s vice president of university relations. But sworn statements released this week show investigators sought a search warrant for Villa’s home and office. At the time, he was president of the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin, and he was previously Walker’s chief of staff.
To justify the warrants, investigators wrote that they suspected Villa had broken several laws, including misconduct in public office and solicitation of public employees to commit misconduct. They presented evidence of Villa’s involvement in both an alleged bid-rigging scheme and a political action committee that Walker aide Tim Russell was suspected of doing work for while on county time....
The September 2011 affidavit were previously sealed under a John Doe secrecy order but were released with the permission of John Doe Judge Neal Nettesheim by the defendants in a lawsuit brought by Cindy Archer, another former Walker aide who was also under investigation but never charged.
But the reviews had been brutal. Donors were grousing, and money was drying up. It was a painful turn for Walker, who had quickly vaulted to the top of the Iowa polls, powered by a fiery January speech in Des Moines, only to drop precipitously in the summer amid Donald Trump’s rise. He had gone from front-runner to also-ran in a matter of months.This is where I remind you that taxpayers are shelling out $178,000 a year to Villa so he can “work” as VP of University Relations at the UW System, a position that UW System President Ray Cross offered to Villa last year amid numerous concerns about Villa’s background and partisanship. And as part of the application process, Villa got a nice boost from his old bud Scotty.
So on Monday morning, the group of advisers — including veteran Walker hands John Hiller, Bill Eisner, Ed Goeas, and Jim Villa — huddled with Scott and Tonette Walker. The top of the agenda, according to campaign sources: polling and fundraising. And the numbers were bad.
Shortly after the meeting wrapped, Walker arrived at his decision: He was out. It was a shocking and sudden move that blindsided many of Walker’s closest allies, threw the power of super PACs into doubt and opened opportunities for rivals to pick up patrons, staff, and supporters.
Villa listed Walker, former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and powerful lobbyist and former Thompson administration official Bill McCoshen as his references when applying for the position.What did the UW System get out of the allegedly improved relationship with the Governor’s Office that was supposed to come with Villa’s hire? A $250 million cut in state funding and the removal of tenure, along with regressive abortion legislation that threatens to cut off research dollars to the UW and drive talent away from the state. Forget the crookedness of Villa working for the Walker campaign while pulling down a huge state paycheck, this guy should be fired for what he's allowed to happen (or even worse, cleared the way for) to the UW in the time that he’s been on the "job."
Tony Evers, superintendent of public instruction of Wisconsin and also a member of the board of regents, emailed fellow regent John Drew two days after the appointment was announced to say he was reading “scary” information online about Villa.
Liberal groups also objected to the appointment, noting that the Walker administration has been repeatedly embarrassed by hiring unqualified “cronies” for high-paying jobs.
But wait, one thing Jim Villa does know is commercial real estate, as a former lobbyist for the Commercial Realtors Association of Wisconsin, and one thing the UW has a lot of is buildings and operations that could go a long way toward filling budget holes. A Walker campaign contributor could get a tidy little profit if they got such a building or operation for pennies on the dollar, if something like UW-Madison’s power plant were put up for sale and some local utilities wanted to buy it and jack up rates to customers. Quite a nice scheme if you’re in the inner circle and get a
And gee, what's the first proposal Scotty throws his support behind when he gets back to Madison to do the actual job taxpayers pay him 6 figures to do? Try to eradicate civil service rules and clear the way for more cronies like Jim Villa to get fat taxpayer-funded paychecks while "analyzing and implementing" policies according to the ALEC handbook. Funny how those things work.
It's pretty obvious to me that there are more shoes to drop in light of Walker’s hasty, panicky exit from the presidential campaign, well past the bleeding of money and support his campaign had (Walker's ducking of questions in that disgraceful “press conference” add to this fishiness). Throw in the recent revelations involving Jim Villa’s role as a Walker 2016 campaign aide and questions about his pay-to-play past, and it seems he might be a key part of things when those shoes start to fall.