MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – The FBI raided the home of a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday, apparently in an investigation of whether Walker’s staffers did campaign work on county time while he was Milwaukee County executive and running for governor.
Cynthia Archer, who was director of administrative services for Walker while he was in Milwaukee, said she was awakened by FBI agents threatening to break down her door. Neighbors said a dozen law enforcement officers spent 3 hours at Archer’s home Wednesday morning.
FBI agents wearing Latex gloves removed at least one box and photographed her home and yard. Agents also seized the hard drive of a computer that a neighbor had bought from Archer 6 to 8 weeks ago at a garage sale.
Archer went to Madison with Walker after he was elected governor, to work as deputy secretary in the Department of Administration, where she earns $124,000 a year overseeing state contracts, the state budget, the state workforce and other key government functions.
Archer quit her high-level job in August and took a job with the Department of Children & Families, which pays her $25,000 less, though 61 percent more than the last person who held the position, according to state records.
Archer said she made the move so she could do more policy-related work. She has not started the new job yet, as she is on a paid medical leave of absence.
Archer said she believed the raid was part of an investigation of illegal campaign activity, but said she is not allowed to talk about it.
“I’ve been told by them not to comment,” she said. “I can tell you that I have nothing to hide. I fully cooperated. I would’ve cooperated with or without a search warrant and I intend to fully cooperate with them moving forward.”
She said she has not done anything wrong or illegal and as a public servant her whole career “has a good sense of what’s appropriate and not appropriate at work.” She said she was not subpoenaed, nor told she was involved in the investigation.
Another Walker staffer, who is also believed to be a subject of the investigation, quit his job over the summer. Tom Nardelli, who was Milwaukee County chief of staff and then went to Madison with Walker to work as administrator for the Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services, quit in July with no notice, just 3 days after accepting the $90,000 position.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the investigation started when another Walker staffer, Darlene Wink, who was being paid by Milwaukee County taxpayers to help citizens with county services, was using her work time to post anonymous comments supporting candidate Walker on websites and blogs.
One conviction has resulted so far. William Gardner, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., was sentenced to 2 years probation after pleading guilty to two felony violations of state campaign finance laws for exceeding donation limits and laundering donations to Walker and other Wisconsin politicians.
Gov. Walker has not commented on the Archer raid or any related events, though his campaign hired a former Milwaukee U.S. attorney to represent his interests if the investigation comes closer to him.
The Associated Press reported that Democratic legislative leaders reacted to the raid by introducing a bill to repeal changes that allowed the governor to replace civil service positions in state agencies, such as Archer’s, with political appointees.
That change was one of many Walker-backed initiatives the Republican-led Legislature passed at breakneck speed after Walker took office in January.
(This story was compiled from Wisconsin news reports, including the Journal Sentinel, The Associated Press, and Madison’s Channel 3000 (WISC-TV, Channel 3).)