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Walker Declines Call To Remove John Chisholm As Milwaukee DA

Ethics Commission Chairman Called For Chisholm's Removal Last Week

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm
Ivan Moreno/AP Photo

Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he hasn’t considered removing Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm from office, despite a call from the chair of the state Ethics Commission to do so.

Ethics Commission Chairman David Halbrooks, a Democrat, called last week for the governor to consider removing Chisholm, also a Democrat, from office.

Halbrooks argued Chisholm should bear the responsibility for what some are calling an inappropriate overreach of multiple John Doe investigations dating back to Walker’s days as Milwaukee County executive.

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Chisholm led the investigation known as John Doe 1, which resulted in the convictions of six former Walker aides or associates.

Halbrooks was granted immunity as a witness in that investigation.

Chisholm was also involved in the investigation known as John Doe 2, which looked into possible illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and outside groups. It was halted by the state Supreme Court in 2015, which ruled no wrongdoing took place.

A recent report from the state Department of Justice has brought a renewed focus on the John Doe investigations and led to the firings last week of the heads of the state Ethics and Elections commissions. Both men were tied to the investigations through their employment at the now-shuttered Government Accountability Board.

Walker has the power to remove Chisholm from office, but said Thursday he will defer to Wisconsin voters on whether the district attorney should continue in his role.

“Any time you have someone who’s accountable to voters, my deference is always going to be to the voters to make those decisions,” Walker said.

The governor said his predecessors have set a “high standard” for removing district attorneys from office, and he said he doesn’t believe any of Chisholm’s actions have met that standard.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with original reporting from WPR at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.