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Walker Campaign Doubles Down, Attacks Evers On Teacher License Case

Governor's Campaign Launches Its First Attack Ad Of Election Cycle

Scott Walker and Tony Evers
Photos courtesy of the Walker, Evers campaigns

Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election campaign is doubling down on its attacks on Democrat Tony Evers for not revoking the license of a teacher who watched pornography at school.

The governor’s campaign released its first attack ad of the election cycle on Wednesday, highlighting what it calls a failure of leadership.

“When he had the opportunity to actually stand up for our kids, to actually protect our kids and lead on this issue, Tony Evers was nowhere to be seen,” said Mark Morgan, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

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The incidents highlighted in the ad took place in 2008 and 2009, when a Middleton middle school science teacher was caught viewing pornography in his classroom and making sexually suggestive comments to co-workers.

The teacher, Andrew Harris, was fired, but appealed the decision, citing lesser punishments given to other teachers for similar actions. Harris’ objection was upheld and his firing was rescinded. He returned to the classroom in 2014.

Walker and the state Republican Party, which has also aired an attack ad about the case, argue Evers should have revoked Harris’ teaching license. Evers counters state law at the time of the incidents didn’t allow him to do so, because Harris’ actions didn’t meet a necessary legal threshold of endangering students.

“The people of Wisconsin know Tony has spent his lifetime doing what is best for our kids, that he followed the law, and when a loophole in the law on teacher licenses needed to be changed, he worked with both parties to toughen the law so any offending teacher now would lose their license to teach,” said Maggie Gau, Evers’ campaign manager.

However, state GOP leaders question how involved the state schools superintendent was in the eventual legislation, which passed in 2011.

“I think the lack of Democrats on this bill goes to prove that he did little to nothing in leadership on this bill,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna. “If Tony Evers were truly leading on this issue and pounding the pavement, there would have been Democratic co-sponsors on this piece of legislation.”

Evers didn’t testify before lawmakers in support of the legislation, though representatives of the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) did.

“Frankly, this has gotten absurd,” said Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, in a statement supporting Evers. “I served on the Education Committee, and DPI worked on, lobbied for, and testified in favor of the bill, which passed unanimously in both houses.”