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Walker Appoints Outgoing Attorney General To Waukesha County Bench

Brad Schimel Takes Judicial Appointment To Waukesha County Circuit Court

Brad Schimel
Courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television

Gov. Scott Walker has appointed state Attorney General Brad Schimel to the Waukesha County Circuit Court, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes just one day after Schimel, a Republican, conceded the state attorney general election to Democrat Josh Kaul. A recount had been possible in the race, as unofficial election night results had Kaul leading by less than 1 percent.

The appointment will ensure Schimel has a job after Kaul takes over as the head of the state Department of Justice in January.

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“Brad Schimel has diligently served the state of Wisconsin as attorney general and the citizens of Waukesha County as district attorney,” Walker said in a prepared statement. “Schimel has shown a commitment to the rule of law and the state of Wisconsin. He will continue to faithfully serve our state as Waukesha County Circuit Court judge.”

Schimel, 53, will replace Waukesha County Judge Patrick Haughney. Haughney resigned from the office, effective earlier this month. Schimel will have to run for re-election to the seat in 2019.

Democrats were quick to push back on the appointment.

“Wisconsinites overwhelmingly want their courts to be independent, but Scott Walker has nonetheless appointed a highly partisan Republican to the job,” said Martha Laning, state Democratic Party chair. “Even though Wisconsin voters rejected divisive and partisan politicians like Brad Schimel just two weeks ago, Republicans have chosen to ignore the will of voters and put politics before people.”

In August, 45 assistant attorneys general signed a letter saying Schimel had made the office too political during his tenure.

Schimel dismissed the letter as a partisan campaign tactic. During his campaign, the attorney general frequently touted his endorsement by bipartisan groups of Wisconsin sheriffs and district attorneys.

Schimel was elected to the attorney general’s office in 2014. Prior to that, he served as a prosecutor and district attorney in Waukesha County for more than two decades.

During his tenure in the attorney general’s office, Schimel touted his work on school safety initiatives and measures aimed at fighting Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic. He took sharp criticism for his handling of a backlog of untested rape kits, as well as $10,000 spent on commemorative coins reading, “Kicking Ass Every Day,” which he distributed to staff.

Schimel also oversaw a number of lawsuits against Obama administration policies, including the Affordable Care Act, during his time in office. Kaul has said he intends to withdraw Wisconsin from that lawsuit.

Correction: This story was updated to correct the date that Schimel will be up for re-election.