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Former Assistant AGs: Schimel Is Too Political

Republican Incumbent Dismisses Critics As 'Partisan Activists'

Brad Schimel
Andy Manis/AP Photo

Forty-five former assistant Wisconsin attorneys general have signed on to a letter criticizing current Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel as he makes a bid for another term in office.

The letter, released by Schimel’s Democratic opponent Josh Kaul, contends the GOP incumbent has “blatantly politicized the office, dropped the ball on his role as the lead crime fighter in Wisconsin, and abdicated the AG’s traditional role as ‘the people’s lawyer’ representing Wisconsin citizens’ interests in criminal and civil matters alike.”

Those criticisms have been frequent talking points for Kaul’s campaign, but one of the letter’s authors denies partisan intent.

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“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” said Dan Stier, who served as an assistant attorney general from 1979-89. “We’ve all been around a long, long time. We’ve seen lots of attorney generals come and go, and no one has ever been motivated to do anything like this until now.”

Only 10 of those who signed the letter have worked directly for Schimel, but Stier said knowledge of the attorneys general’s policies, including overseeing staffing cuts in the state Department of Justice’s Environmental Protection Unit and choice not to sign on to a lawsuit challenging for-profit colleges, are evidence of political motivation.

Schimel’s campaign dismissed the letter as a statement from “partisan activists” and pointed out Schimel as received endorsements from a bipartisan coalition of Wisconsin sheriffs.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with original reporting from WPR at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, 2018.