Former Walker aide called e-mail likening welfare recipients to dogs ‘hilarious’

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker's deputy chief of staff when Walker was Milwaukee County executive once responded to an e-mail comparing welfare recipients to dogs by calling it "hilarious," documents released Wednesday show.

Then-deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch received an e-mail in April 2010 with a photograph of four dogs and a story relayed in jest about trying to sign them up for welfare. "At first the lady said, 'Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare'. So I expla ned [sic] to her that my Dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who the r Daddys are. They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty," the e-mail said, adding: "My Dogs get their first checks Friday."

Rindfleisch responded: "That is hilarious. And so true."

In another 2010 exchange, Walker's then-chief of staff Thomas Nardelli forwarded an e-mail containing a joke about a "nightmare" that sought to disparage Democrats.

"I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted, Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, Oh dear God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat!" the e-mail said.

The exchanges were included in thousands of pages of e-mails and court documents related to the case of Rindfleisch, who pleaded guilty to improperly doing political work for a Walker-backed candidate while on the clock as a government employee.

Walker was never charged in the case. And he was not apparently part of the email exchanges about welfare or the one about the "nightmare."

But the overall collection of documents threatened to complicate his political future. Some showed that he directed his official aides and campaign staffers to communicate daily. Others suggested he knew about an off-the-books e-mail system that had come under scrutiny.

Walker is running for reelection and may run for president in 2016. Democrats used the release of the documents to slam him. Walker's campaign spokesman noted that the authorities have already reviewed the documents.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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