Add to Scott Walker’s antipathy for the working man and unions a blatantly cruel and uncaring attitude toward those suffering from mental illness, illustrated by an email sent by one of his top aides shortly before he was elected governor in which she callously said, “no one cares about crazy people.”
The email, which was uncovered as part of a larger investigation into illegal activities by the then Milwaukee County executive’s staff in relation to his 2010 campaign for governor, was in reference to the case of a 33 year old woman who died of complications from starvation and severe dehydration while in the care of the county mental health facility.
Kelly Rindfleisch was Walker’s deputy chief of staff at the time and was in damage control mode attempting to keep the case from being connected to him before the election was over.
The exchange was made using a secret wireless network set up in the county executive’s office using personal laptops and Blackberries to hide the fact that county employees were conducting campaign business on county time which is against the law.
Rindfleisch had sent an email to Walker campaign official Keith Gilkes telling him that the county’s attorneys had suggested settling the case for $50-100k, to which Gilke had responded “Ok —any time after Nov. 2nd would be the time to offer a settlement.”
Rindfleisch wrote in another clandestine email that she was sure that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) who was Walker’s opponent was likely to “make this the center of his campaign.”
“Yep and he is still going to lose because that is his base,” replied county official Joan Hansen.
“Yep,” Rindfleisch responded. “No one cares about crazy people.”
In the case they were discussing 33 year old Cindy Anczak who had previously been diagnosed as bi-polar was admitted to the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex on July 10, 2006 after being found wandering and incoherent in a cemetery. She was released by Karl Strelnick a doctor for the county two weeks later on July 25 even though he had noted that she was unresponsive, psychotic and “did not seem to be able to process what to do with the pen” when asked to sign discharge papers.
It was necessary for hospital staff to escort her out of the hospital and place her in the cab they had called to take her home and she returned to the facility on her own later in the evening.
Ten days later when she refused to leave her bed or eat, Strelnick testified in court that she was a danger to herself in order to obtain a court order allowing him to administer anti-psychotic drugs against her will. Only hours later he was attempting to force her father to take her home even as they expressed their fear that she would jump from the car.
The doctor did relent in the end and allowed her to remain hospitalized. That was the last time her parents saw her alive.
Four days after that incident she was found unconscious and gasping for air; she was transferred to Froedtert Hospital where she died on August 16.
At the time of her death it was found that during her short stay at the county facility she had lost 22 pounds and been allowed to become so dehydrated that her blood had begun to form clots–which was what finally killed her.
The idea that a public official would view the death of a young woman as less important than an election is bad enough, but this was only the tip of the iceberg. The investigation which uncovered these emails was into the misuse of public employees for campaign purposes, a suspicion which turned out to be true.
Walker has managed to somehow keep the stain of this well orchestrated conspiracy from reaching his hands but the fact that his office was using clandestine wireless networks and personal laptops and email accounts on county time to conduct campaign business would seem to indicate that he is either a very incompetent official or complicit in these crimes.
We will never know as long as his underlings remain willing to fall on their swords and take one for the team but it remains to be seen if these new revelations lead to a loss in his reelection bid this November.