Several months ago One Wisconsin Now filed a complaint with the new Government Accountability Board regarding Supreme Court Justice Elect-Michael Gableman. At the center of the issue are what appear to be political calls that he made from a state phone when he was the Ashland County District Attorney. Calls were made to Republican fundraisers, the McCallum for Governor Campaign, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and to the campaign of Republican Attorney General Candidate Vince Biskupic. Doing political work on state time and with state resources is illegal. To make matters worse, these calls were made at a time when the newspapers were full of stories about the caucus scandal in the Legislature.
The GAB refused to take up the complaint saying that they were not allowed to investigate matters that happened more than three years ago. OWN then forwarded the complaint to Burnett County District Attorney Ken Kutz and Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy. Kutz decided not to investigate the matter because it did not actually happen in his county. Sean Duffy, a long-time Gableman supporter, said that he did not have jurisdiction even though the actions actually did happen in his county. Duffy suggested that OWN file the complaint with the State Attorney General’s office. Late last week OWN received a letter from J.B. Van Hollen’s office saying that they cannot investigate the complaint and directed us right back to the District Attorneys. Shortly after Van Hollen’s refusal to investigate, the six-year statute of limitations expired.
Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen’s refusal to investigate Supreme Court Justice Elect-Mike Gableman for dozens of phone calls made from his Ashland County District Attorney’s office and cell phone to political donors, partisan campaign and party offices runs in stark contrast to Van Hollen’s public integrity promises as a 2006 Attorney General candidate.
According to his 2006 campaign website, Van Hollen said:
‘¢ ‘I will create a new Elections and Public Integrity Unit within the Wisconsin Department of Justice and would make enforcement of state elections law one [sic] its principal assignments.’
‘¢ ‘Corruption in state government has dominated the political headlines lately. What more can the Department of Justice do to combat it?’
‘¢ ‘My campaign was first to raise the issue of government ethics in regards to the caucus scandal’¦’
Attorney General Van Hollen’s change of heart on possible campaign violations raises serious questions. Is it that he’s unwilling to investigate a fellow Republican, or that he’s afraid to take on someone in power? As the state’s top law enforcement official, does he really have no way to investigate alleged violations of state law? Whatever his flawed reasoning, he has failed in keeping his promises and he has failed the State of Wisconsin.