Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Capitol Sex Scandal Confirmed

Judge confirms affair between state DHS secretary and his legal counsel, and jealously abusive husband gets off with a misdemeanor.

By - Sep 17th, 2013 09:32 am
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Dennis Smith, the former Secretary of the State Department of Health Services.

Dennis Smith, the former Secretary of the State Department of Health Services.

Last September I chronicled the lurid tale of Madison resident Andrew D. Spear, who was charged with attempted murder for allegedly pouring gasoline on his wife Mary Spear and then igniting the gas with a lighter.

The murder attempt was triggered by the husband’s belief his wife was having an affair with her boss, state Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith. Mary Spear served as chief legal counsel for Smith and the department.

Both Smith and Mary Spear denied the affair. But just a few days after Andrew Spear’s defense attorney filed legal motions demanding information that looked liked it might embarrass Smith, he abruptly resigned from his post with the Walker administration and decamped for a job with the Washington D.C. law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge.

As it turns out, there was indeed an affair between Smith and Mary Spear, which was confirmed by Judge William E. Hanrahan, who handled the case against Andrew Spear. At a hearing on June 12, in discussing a request from Brian Brophy, the attorney for Mr. Spear, for discovery of potentially exculpatory evidence showing an affair had occurred, Hanrahan said this wasn’t necessary.

“It’s very bizarre that you would come to court asking the court to turn over information that might tend to suggest that she (Mary Spears) was actually having an extramarital affair when he (Andrew Spears) already knew it, as evidenced by the letters that were in the provider’s files sent by your client,” Hanrahan noted. “I think any objective, reasonable person, upon reading the e-mails that he furnished, would not have such a hard time believing it.”

On Friday, September 13, Hanrahan sentenced Spear, and the charges and sentence were reduced from a mountain to a mole hill.

“Ultimately the sentence recognized that Mr. Spear learned his wife was having an affair and there was a resulting fight,” says Brophy. “But there was not proof he poured gasoline on her, attempted to set her on fire or held her anywhere against her will.”

Hanrahan, however, said the allegation of an affair played no part in the sentence he gave Spear and he was sentencing him only for the abusive acts he pled guilty to. “You were a brute,” Hanrahan told Spear. “You were a bully.”

Yet the judge agreed to dramatically reduced charges against Andrew Spear. Spear had originally been charged with first degree attempted murder, with a maximum penalty of 60 years and false imprisonment, with a maximum penalty of 6 years. Instead he was sentenced for three counts of misdemeanor battery and two counts of disorderly conduct, with a total sentence of 225 days imprisonment, minus the 30 days he had already served in jail.

Brophy told the Wisconsin State Journal there was no physical evidence that supported Mary Spear’s account of being doused with gasoline by her husband and set on fire. Assistant District Attorney Matthew Moeser conceded that prosecutors would have been unable to prove the allegation at a trial.

This entire controversy brought an abrupt end to Smith’s role as an attack dog against Obamacare for Walker, supporting the rhetoric of Karl Rove and the Republican party on this issue. Smith had a strong connection to the Bush administration, having served as the head of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under Secretary Tommy Thompson and his successor as Secretary, Michael Leavitt. Smith was a key guy “at the table” under both secretaries, Leavitt has written.

After Democrats took over the White House in 2008, Smith became an activist for the Heritage Foundation on health care, writing a piece urging states to drop out of Medicaid. He became a high profile hire for Walker, who brought Smith on in January 2011 as Health Services Secretary. Smith quickly became the point man for Walker in resisting Obamacare in Wisconsin, and was known nationally as a state official who could be depended on to criticize Obamacare.

But Smith meanwhile made contact with an old friend he had known since grade school, Mary Spear. While she had worked as a lawyer in years past, there is no evidence she had a job at the time Smith hired her as his chief legal counsel in January 2012.  A lawyer with the Department of Health Services told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel there was no other candidate for the job, but Smith claimed he contacted other candidates, without naming any names. Within just eight months of her hiring, their affair had gotten to the point that their revealing emails were discovered by Andrew Spear, precipitating his misdemeanor battery against his wife.

At the June 12 hearing for Andrew Spear, Brophy noted that “at some point in time Mr. Spear saw… e-mails between Ms. Spear and her father talking about going to Washington should candidate Romney have won the election.” The implication is that Smith would have returned to Washington D.C. if Mitt Romney won the 2012 presidential election, and Mary Spear would have joined him.

Of course that didn’t happen, but Smith ended up moving anyway after the Spear scandal heated up. He now serves as managing director of the DC office of McKenna Long & Aldridge. As for Mary Spear, she is divorcing Andrew and a source tells me her condo in Madison now looks un-lived in. The rumor mill has it that she now spends much of her time in our nation’s capitol.

Categories: Murphy's Law

4 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Capitol Sex Scandal Confirmed”

  1. Stacy Moss says:

    Maybe it is better to screw your lawyer before they screw you.

  2. Jeff says:

    Remember how the Republicans were always blathering on about the “corrupt” Doyle Administration? I think we get more sleazy deals (like hiring your girlfriend as “Chief Legal Counsel” even though she’s no longer a practicing attorney) out of the Walker Administration in just about any given week than we got our of eight years of Jim Doyle.

  3. Bea says:

    The “Walker for President” folks will keep supporting him despite all his corrupt cronyism unless he’s found in bed with a live man or a dead woman.

  4. Rational Being says:

    Bruce, you are once again clueless. How you can possibly print such drivel based on ” the rumor mill” goes to show why you are a hack blogger, and not a real journalist. Any investigative journalist worth his salt would have discovered the real story that is begging to be told here.

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