Losing Professionals, Promoting Partisans

While J.B. Van Hollen is having a problem hanging on to veteran lawmen at the Department of Justice, there is no shortage of political cronies that he isn’€™t willing to hire and promote. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Jim Warren, the state’€™s former top criminal investigator felt that his sudden retirement was ‘€œshoved down his throat’€ after a year of ‘€œconstant war’€ with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’€™s administration. Warren was almost universally regarded as a top notch criminal investigator and his retirement is a loss for the entire state.

Is there a personnel problem in Van Hollen’€™s department? It seems that it might depend the name and affiliation of the employee. On the same day of the WSJ story, the Associated Press reported that J.B. Van Hollen not only hired his campaign field director but has promoted him repeatedly. Van Hollen appointed Tim Jennings as an office associate shortly after taking office. Next he promoted him to the Division of Criminal Investigation and in March gave him a job as a DCI analyst. Before he was a campaign guy and now he studies gang activity in the Fox Valley?

Van Hollen actually has a history of hiring partisan allies since he took office. His Deputy Attorney General is Ray Taffora, who served as counsel for Tommy Thompson and assisted former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen in redistricting and negotiating an end to the caucuses.

Because it handles matters of law and wields so much power, the DOJ cannot afford to present an appearance of partisanship. Such a perception could call into question motivations and threaten the integrity of the work of the department. Rather than working so hard to hire and promote political cronies, J.B. Van Hollen should focus more on maintaining law enforcement professionals that have a long track record of service. Given his administration’€™s apparent treatment of Jim Warren, it seems that Van Hollen has yet to buy into this common sense approach. While he continues to gain partisans, Wisconsin has lost at least one consummate professional.

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