Why Wouldn’t Sean Duffy Investigate Gableman?

In April 2008, One Wisconsin Now requested Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy investigate allegations that Mike Gableman, while serving as Ashland District Attorney, made illegal fundraising calls from his state office for then-Gov. Scott McCallum.

As the DA where the alleged violations took place, Duffy’s office would be the most logical place for the investigation to begin.

But he turned us down. Duffy refused to investigate, despite particularly damning evidence.Here’s what our research showed: In the two months prior to a June 12, 2002 fundraiser for McCallum which Gableman hosted, dozens of phone calls were made from Gableman’€™s taxpayer-financed Ashland County District Attorney’€™s office phone and government cell phone to people who ended up donating to the fundraiser and sitting at the head table with Gableman and the former Governor. This also included calls to McCallum’€™s fundraising staffers and the campaign.

We thought Duffy’s refusal to investigate was because he was protecting his mentor and fellow Republican Party pal, Mike Gableman.

As it turns out, our records also show that the law office owned by Duffy’€™s brother Thomas J. Duffy, Jr. was among those called numerous times from Gableman’€™s office, and that Duffy and his brother both donated substantially to the fundraiser. Five hundred dollars each, June 18, 2002 — the same day Gableman ponied up $1,250 for the fundraiser.

This isn’t to say Duffy’s brother did anything wrong. The wrong-doing would be Gableman making fundraising calls his state-funded office. But in his written refusal to investigate, dated May 6, 2008, Sean Duffy neither noted his own contribution for the fundraiser, nor did he point out his brother’€™s contribution made on the same date along with Gableman.

Sean Duffy refused our reasonable call to investigate, twisting logic in calling Gableman’s action a campaign finance violation rather than misconduct, as was our request.

To this day, he has never been pressed to explain why he was willing to go the extra mile to avoid investigating Gableman.

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Scot Ross has served as Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute since 2007.