Steven Walters
The State of Politics

Controversy Defines Schimel’s First Term

Attorney General has jumped on hot-button issues he hopes will get him reelected.

By - Dec 11th, 2017 10:02 am
Brad Schimel. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Brad Schimel. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has spent the last year picking the controversial issues on which he will base his campaign for a second term.

Last week alone he issued a report documenting the incredible investigative overreach by the now-shuttered Government Accountability Board in the three John Doe probes of Wisconsin Republicans and sparred with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers over who will represent Evers in a lawsuit over his agency’s rule-making process.

The former Waukesha County district attorney isn’t in the media-frenzy orbits of President Donald Trump, Wisconsin’s U.S. senators and GOP Gov. Scott Walker. But the 52-year-old conservative who got 51 percent of the vote in 2014 seems poised to run on his – and not Democrats’ – terms.

Schimel will also make his fight against the epidemic of opioid and heroin abuse a centerpiece of his campaign, saying progress had been made in treatment and prevention.

But the only Democrat so far running against Schimel, Josh Kaul, says Schimel should go further and sue Big Pharma for damages, as dozens of Wisconsin counties have done.

Responding, Schimel said he and 41 other attorneys general are negotiating with pharmaceutical companies – talks that could end in a huge settlement like the one with Big Tobacco.

In a WisconsinEye interview last week, Schimel also said:

*The U.S. Supreme Court should rule that a Colorado baker has a constitutional right to refuse to make a wedding cake for same-sex couple. Although the right of same-sex couples to wed has been established by the Supreme Court, Schimel said the Colorado baker case poses a “different question.”

“Can they take their right to be married and now infringe on the legitimate religious liberty, beliefs or rights on a person who is an artist?” Schimel said, adding:

“The strongest obligation I have is to protect the First Amendment rights of all people, because our government – and America – falls if the First Amendment falls.”

*The landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling that gave a pregnant women the right to an abortion should be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’m a pro-life person,” said Schimel. He said he and his wife adopted two daughters whose 18-year-old birth mothers chose to not have abortions.

Schimel also intervened in two abortion cases this year. He asked federal judges to uphold an Indiana law forbidding abortions because of race, gender or potential disability of the fetus. And he urged the upholding of a law giving states the right to intercede on behalf of an addicted pregnant woman.

*State and local officials can legally open a meeting with prayer. “If officials wish to pray before the legislative session, that’s clearly acceptable under our Constitution,” Schimel said.

*While America must secure the Mexico border, the AG said there should be a “path to citizenship” for immigrants who “sign the guest book” and enter the country legally, and lawfully work to better their lives.

Schimel said he didn’t know if the wall President Trump wants built on the Mexican border is the answer. But, he added, “if we don’t secure that border we’ll continue to have those drugs flowing into America and money and guns flowing back into Mexico, which is destroying that nation, too.”

*The wave of sexual assault and harassment complaints that have ended the careers of politicians, actors, and entertainment industry and business leaders is good because the focus is no longer on any personal choices made by the female victim. Instead, Schimel said, “They’re looking at the [perpetrator] and saying, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ That’s great to see.”

But sexual harassment complaints against Wisconsin lawmakers should continue to be kept secret, he added. “We cannot disempower victims of abuse or sexual assault because, when we do that, the victims will not come forward.”

Last week. Schimel refused to denounce Alabama GOP U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing teenage girls decades ago.

Democrats attacked Schimel’s waffle. “Our AG—our chief law enforcement official—needs to be a leader on these issues and should condemn this kind of inexcusable conduct,” tweeted Kaul, the son of former Democratic Atty. Gen. Peg Lautenschlager.

One year ago, Schimel joined AGs from other states and asked Trump to overturn President Obama’s Clean Power order aimed at fighting climate change by dramatically reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Trump did just that.

Kaul’s campaign has other issues against Schimel: His defense of the photo ID voting requirement passed by Walker and GOP legislators. Schimel’s defense of 2011 GOP-drawn maps of Assembly and Senate – maps Democrats say were gerrymandered to guarantee Republican dominance in legislative and congressional district races.

Wisconsin’s attorney general, Kaul says, should champion “Wisconsin families – not partisan politics.”

Steven Walters is a senior producer for the nonprofit public affairs channel WisconsinEye. Contact him at

3 thoughts on “The State of Politics: Controversy Defines Schimel’s First Term”

  1. daniel golden says:

    The sad fact is that Schimel is the most unethical political hack to occupy the office of Attorney General in this state in modern times. It should have been a clue as to Schimel’s lack of integrity when he famously said “Why can’t a legislator press for legislation that benefits someone who has contributed to his campaign?” This use to be called pay for pay for play or going back even further, bribery. In the modern Republican Party, this sadly is the new normal. What state wide law enforcement officer would have refused to condemn the odious Roy Moore 10 years ago. If there is a God in heaven, for the good of this state, this creep will not be reelected.

  2. Tom says:

    Walters – you are supposed to be non partisan.

  3. Terry says:

    Wisconsin republicans are soooo duplicitous and creepy. Big out of state money coming into the state to support them and the judges, right? Wow, sooo greazy…

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