Brad Schimel Doubles Down: Refuses to Renounce Endorsement of Pay-to-Play Politics

‘The Essence of Representative Government Is Doing Your Job and Upholding the Law, Not Brad Schimel-Endorsed ‘Pay-to-Play,’ Says One Wisconsin Now

MADISON, Wis. — One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross today denounced Republican Attorney General Candidate Brad Schimel’s most recent refusal to renounce his statements endorsing pay to play politics or take responsibility for not investigating a fellow Waukesha County Republican. During Sunday’s “Capital Sunday with Greg Neumann,” Schimel even went so far as to attack Ross and One Wisconsin Now for his failure to look into pay to play allegations surrounding Rep. Joel Kleefisch, husband of Gov. Scott Walker’s running mate Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

“Despite what Brad Schimel believes, the ‘essence of representative government’ is doing the job you’re elected to do, and not condoning pay to play politics,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “This isn’t the first time Brad Schimel has turned a blind eye to corruption when it comes to his powerful Waukesha Republican political allies.”

In January, One Wisconsin Now had appealed to Schimel, as Waukesha County District Attorney, to look into potential impropriety surrounding legislation introduced by Waukesha County Rep. Joel Kleefisch. The bill in question would have specifically slashed the child support obligations of a millionaire Kleefisch campaign donor.

Schimel responded via email, “Why can’t a legislator press for legislation that benefits a person who has contributed to their campaign? Isn’t that the essence of representative government?”

Publicly available drafting records revealed that the donor and his attorneys provided detailed, line-by-line instructions to Kleefisch on how to write the legislation to ensure the bill would benefit this donor. In addition, records maintained by the state Government Accountability Board show the individual who would benefit from the bill has made campaign donations totaling $3,500 to Rep. Kleefisch, $7,500 to his wife Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and $15,000 to Gov. Walker. In addition, Rep. Kleefisch has contributed to Schimel’s campaign.

In addition, numerous print and broadcast media outlets in Southeastern Wisconsin and across the state reported on Kleefisch’s unseemly attempt to benefit his and his wife’s wealthy news reports, publicly available records and our request for an investigation all provided an accounting of what Rep. Kleefisch attempted to do on behalf of his wealthy donor campaign benefactor.

“If Brad Schimel thinks the broad evidence we provided him and that was widely reported wasn’t enough, he’s either incompetent, or unwilling, once again, to prosecute a powerful member of his own political party,” said Ross.

Ross noted that while at least Schimel didn’t flee his most recent interview when questioned about his refusal to act, his latest bumbling response to try to explain away his apparent defense of pay to play politics doesn’t resolve the issue.

When first questioned about his “essence of representative government” comments by a Milwaukee television reporter, Schimel abruptly ran out of the interview – to attend a political fundraising event. Just this last week, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch hosted a high dollar fundraiser for Schimel at a posh Oconomowoc venue.

“When given the opportunity to explain or renounce his statements, Schimel restated his view that there’s no problem with donors writing checks to the legislators writing bills to benefit them.” Ross concluded, “Brad Schimel’s words and actions show he has every intention of continuing to turn a blind eye to pay to play politics.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.