Wisconsin Democratic spokesman loses job after comparing Scott Walker to Jeffrey Dahmer

Zielinski (left) has been demoted after linking Scott Walker and Jeffrey Dahmer (right) in a series of tweets.
Zielinski (left) has been demoted after linking Scott Walker and Jeffrey Dahmer (right) in a series of tweets.
Image by Tatiana Craine

It's a lesson former MNGOP Senate Bob Koss learned the hard way a few months ago -- things you say on Twitter can cost you your job.

SEE ALSO: Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state over last year

The latest example comes courtesy of the Land of Cheese, where Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski has been removed from his post following a Twitter rant where he compared Gov. Scott Walker to notorious Wisconsin serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Zielinski's rant came on the heels of an appeals court's decision to close a criminal investigation into some of Walker's top aides regarding misconduct dating back to his days as Milwaukee County executive. More background about that comes via the Wisconsin State Journal:

The investigation, which uncovered illegal campaign contributions to Walker's campaign, illegal campaign activity by his taxpayer-funded staffers, embezzlement of veterans' funds and other misdeeds, had dogged Walker since even before he was elected governor in November 2010. Walker consistently insisted that he was not a target of the probe, even though his top aides who sat just feet from his desk -- including former Milwaukee County deputy chiefs of staff Kelly Rindfleisch and Tim Russell and constituent services director Darlene Wink -- all were convicted of wrongdoing...

In a statement issued by his campaign, Walker said the investigation began when his office reported the suspected theft of money from Operation Freedom, a veterans' event at the Milwaukee County Zoo from which Russell was convicted of looting more than $20,000 in donations.

"I am glad the process has been completed," Walker said in a statement. "As many may remember, this entire matter began when we asked the district attorney to look into concerns we had with respect to Operation Freedom. We appreciate the effort that was undertaken and to bring appropriate matters to justice."

The governor repeated those comments at the Capitol later Friday.

"The process was pretty clear," Walker said. "We're glad the process is done. We think the process speaks for itself."

At one point in the investigation, Walker was subpoenaed to testify in the case against Rindfleisch, but she struck a deal with prosecutors, keeping Walker off the witness stand. Several top current and former Walker aides had received immunity from criminal prosecution in the probe.

Democrats remained critical.

"Scott Walker beat the rap with a six-figure defense fund and the best criminal defense lawyers money can buy," said Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides information about Walker's criminal defense team:

Records show that Walker paid the law firms for his two defense attorneys nearly $200,000 over the past year. In addition, Walker's campaign was represented by former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, formerly of Michael Best & Friedrich, since November 2010. As of the end of last year, Michael Best was paid nearly $200,000 to handle "compliance" issues.

Having said all that, here are the tweets that landed Zielinski in hot water (the first two give you some context -- the next three contain the Dahmer references and have been deleted):

Wisconsin Democratic spokesman loses job after comparing Scott Walker to Jeffrey Dahmer
Wisconsin Democratic spokesman loses job after comparing Scott Walker to Jeffrey Dahmer

Zielinski never supplied an answer to the question he poses in that last tweet.

He has since apologized...

... but that wasn't enough to save his job as party spokesman. From a separate Journal Sentinel report:

Democratic Party staffer Graeme Zielinski was removed as the party spokesman following his Twitter outburst in which he compared Republican Gov. Scott Walker to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, sources said Monday.

Party leaders also docked Zielinski a week's pay - which works out to about $1,000 - for his tweets after Milwaukee prosecutors announced that they were shutting down a secret criminal investigation of Walker's aides...

One source close to the party said Zielinski, a former reporter for the Journal Sentinel and other newspapers, will stay on with the state Democratic Party as a "media adviser." He will, however, no longer be permitted to post on Twitter, where he has been prolific in recent years.

"He agreed," said one source. "He's aware of the mistakes he's made."

The source declined to say why officials decided to keep Zielinski on the party payroll.

The whole thing gives you a new appreciation for the relative genialness of Minnesota politics, doesn't it?

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