MADISON, Wis. — It’s no accident Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced in an interview with WisPolitics.com yesterday that he would seek re-election in 2018 and open an investigation into leaks of material from an investigation of political corruption that were politically embarrassing to Gov. Scott Walker, other Republicans and conservative campaign groups. According to former state Department of Justice official and One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross, the synergy of Schimel’s announcement is yet another example of how Wisconsin’s top cop has inserted partisan politics into the daily operation of the Attorney General’s office.
“This is shameless partisan pandering, even by Brad Schimel’s standards,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “He’s tried to spike investigations of Republican corruption and looked the other way when fellow conservatives leaked information to the press, in possible violation of judge’s orders. But now that there’s an opportunity to advance his political interests Schimel is all about investigating leaks.”
The state’s top law enforcement office has argued all the way to the United States Supreme Court to try to end the “John Doe” investigation of political corruption alleging illegal coordination between Gov. Walker’s campaign and outside groups.
And, when a person associated with an organization subject to investigation spoke openly about the investigation of corruption, in possible violation of a judge’s order, Schimel was uninterested in pursuing charges.
During his 2014 campaign it was brought to light that, as Waukesha County District Attorney, Schimel refused a request from One Wisconsin Now to investigate a fellow Republican who authored legislation to slash the child support payments of a wealthy Republican campaign contributor. In an email response Schimel wrote, “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?” He continued, “Once the individual is convinced that the particular official will act a certain way, why can’t that citizen make otherwise legal campaign contributions?”
Upon his election, Schimel turned the Attorney General’s office into a virtual taxpayer funded law firm for special interests and right wing causes. The office has intervened in numerous occasions in federal litigation on efforts to crack down on polluters, advanced right wing policies on immigration, supported efforts to reduce access to reproductive health care for women and their families and defended Republican laws to rig the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair partisan advantage.
Ross concluded, “It’s obvious with pairing his pander to investigate leaks that embarrassed Republicans with announcing his intention to seek re-election that Brad Schimel is looking to recreate his formula from 2014: he pledges his allegiance to the special interests and they pony up to fund his campaign.”