Partisan Power Plays and Probable Cause


A state equal rights officer has found enough evidence to believe that J.B. Van Hollen’€™s Justice Department demoted its head of the public integrity section in retaliation. Joell Schigur’€™s demotion came after she dared to question a plan to provide Van Hollen with taxpayer-funded security while attending a political convention. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that her demotion came only days before her two-year probationary period was over and only months after receiving a positive review. Specifically, the equal rights officer stated that there is ‘€œprobable cause’€ that Van Hollen’€™s DOJ violated state whistleblower laws by demoting Schigur after she dared to question his security plan.

This initial determination has been just the latest development in Van Hollen’€™s on going conflict between his partisan hires and the long-time law enforcement professionals at the Department of Justice. This conflict led to the premature retirement of universally respected Division of Criminal Investigation Administrator Jim Warren. At that time he said that he felt that his ‘€œretirement’€ was ‘€œshoved down his throat’€ by Van Hollen’€™s crew. During that very same month the head of the special assignments bureau, Carolyn Kelly, was suspended and later demoted. In this internal battle, Van Hollen’€™s partisans appeared to be winning, but this recent finding of probable cause could change the equation. If they are found to have committed wrongdoing, both Van Hollen and his underlings should be held fully accountable. Wisconsin deserves a DOJ that focuses on legitimate law enforcement and not on internal power plays by partisan hacks.

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