With the secret ruling – front page news, but secret – last week in the "John Doe II" probe of conservative groups and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign, the idea that Walker may be the next Republican governor to have a scandal blow up on him seems to have fizzled.
He would have been "next," that is, after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is tied up in a big mess involving members of his staff who are alleged to have closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and Fort Lee, N.J, in retaliation for something (speculation is still running wild on exactly what).
Unlike the Walker John Does (the first one resulted in the criminal conviction of six people, including three who worked closely with Walker while he was Milwaukee County Executive), the Christie scandal is happening on the East Coast among people who have influence on the national media.
That means we in Wisconsin have been able to watch, unlike how the people of New Jersey all probably know nothing of the Walker probes, even though Walker is just as likely as Christie to be at least a slight contender for the GOP's 2016 presidential nomination.
And it means people like me, who closely monitored Walker's John Doe as it unfolded, can spot the parallels between Walker's scandal and Christie's.
So I tweeted this last week: How far was Bridget Anne Kelly's office from Christie's? Closer or farther than Kelly Rindfleisch's was from @GovWalker in Milwaukee County?
Bridget Anne Kelly is the (now former) Deputy Chief of Staff in Christie's office who is alleged to have ordered the bridge lag closures. Kelly Rindfleisch was Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff. In Rindfleisch's office in the Milwaukee Count Courthouse was a secret wireless router (installed by her predecessor, Tim Russell, also convicted in the John Doe) that allowed Rindfleisch and others to do campaign work for Walker's 2010 gubernatorial bid on County time in County offices without using the County network, subject to open records laws.
The John Doe prosecutors helpfully offered a blueprint of the County Executive's office suite, so we know exactly how far away from Walker Rindfleisch was while doing campaign work: 25 feet.
We know that at the end of John Doe I, nothing happened to Walker, even though union thug bloggers like me were pretty sure that there was at least one solid smoking gun against Walker among the evidence collected by prosecutors.
That suggests to me that 25 feet is a Minimum Scandal Radius, the distance required between an elected official and his lawbreaking staff in order for the official to be absolved of responsibility in the scandal.
If Chris Christie is lucky, Bridget Anne Kelly was working at least that far away, or farther, or maybe even in another building, when she emailed Christie's man at the Port Authority that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." If her office was any closer, Chris Christie may be done for.
As for me, I think I'm going to start selling measuring tapes to elected officials. Who's with me?