By DINESH RAMDE
MILWAUKEE (AP) – A former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker is due for trial next month on misconduct charges, and the judge said Monday he’ll make sure the case doesn’t turn into a referendum on the governor.
“Scott Walker’s not on trial here. I’m going to emphasize that to the jurors,” Judge David Hansher told attorneys for the prosecution and defense at a pre-trial hearing for Kelly M. Rindfleisch. “It’s just a by-product that she was working for Scott Walker at the time.”
Rindfleisch, 43, was Walker’s deputy chief of staff when he was the Milwaukee County executive. She’s accused of using county time to conduct campaign work for Brett Davis, a Republican who lost a lieutenant governor race in 2010.
Rindfleisch has pleaded not guilty to four counts of misconduct in office. The felony charges carry a maximum combined penalty of six years in prison and a $40,000 fine.
Defense attorney Frank Gimbel has argued that some of the allegations in the criminal complaint were based on statements Rindfleisch made to investigators in 2002 under the promise of immunity.
Gimbel and prosecutor Bruce Landgraf both declined comment after Monday’s pre-trial hearing.
Rindfleisch’s trial is set to begin Oct. 15. The judge said he would specifically bar either side from asking potential jurors about their political affiliations or how they voted in the last governor’s election or recent recall election.
“We’re not going to violate the providence of the voting booth,” Hansher said.
Rindfleisch is one of six Walker associates facing charges that arose from a secret investigation. Walker himself has not been charged with wrongdoing, but he may be called to testify.
The prosecution last week filed a list of 35 potential witnesses who may be called, a list that includes Walker and his current spokesman, Cullen Werwie, who was Davis’ campaign manager. Werwie has been granted immunity from prosecution for his testimony.