Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Did Brad Schimel Break the Law?

He emceed political fundraiser. State law prevents judges from all political activities.

By - Oct 3rd, 2020 05:03 pm
Brad Schimel. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Brad Schimel. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Few people in Wisconsin should know state law better than Brad Schimel.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1990, then served 16 years as a prosecutor in the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office, followed by eight years as the elected Waukesha County District Attorney, and then served four years as Wisconsin’s Attorney General, until losing the election to current AG Josh Kaul. Schimel has since served as a Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge, having been appointed in 2018 by then-Governor Scott Walker.

State law declares that “no judge or candidate for judicial office or judge elect may…:

  1. Be a member of any political party
  2. Participate in the affairs, caucuses, promotions, platforms, endorsements, conventions or activities of a political party or of a candidate for political office.
  3. Make or solicit financial or other contributions in support of a political party’s causes or candidates.”

But Schimel served as emcee of a Republican Party of Ozaukee County Oktoberfest fundraiser on Friday, October 2, at the River Club of Mequon, which featured as “special speakers” the following Republicans: U.S. Ron Johnson, Congressman Glenn Grothman, state senators Duey Stroebel and Alberta Darling and state representatives Dan Knodl and Jim Ott. Ticket prices for attendees ranged from $40 to $500 for a “Gold Host” twosome.

“Seems like the WI Judicial Code of Ethics expressly bars what @BradSchimel did here,” Democratic campaign operative Tyler Hendricks tweeted.

Democratic consultant Sachin Chheda jumped on the tweet and offered his own take: “This is incredibly important. Gov. Scooter gave this judicial appointment to Schimel [after] they were both rejected by voters for another term. Schimel turning around and AS A JUDGE fundraising for a political party is something I think we’ve literally never seen before in WI.”

Schimel’s appointment to his current judgeship was also seen as nakedly political, with some Democrats condemning it as “backscratching.” Schimel had been a reliable ally of Walker on any legal questions and Walker appointed Schimel over 13 other applicants to the judgeship, handing him the job just one day after Schimel conceded defeat to Kaul.

The political fundraiser Schmiel emceed has also generated news because Johnson disclosed on the next day he learned he had tested positive for COVID-19, a test he’d taken before speaking at the dinner. As an Urban Milwaukee story noted, Darling did not end up attending the event and Strobel left before Johnson arrived. Ott has announced he will self-quarantine due to his exposure to Johnson.

Attempts to reach Schimel for comment have not been successful.

5 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Did Brad Schimel Break the Law?”

  1. Keith Prochnow says:

    So how do the wheels of justice begin turning to punish Schimel? Whose job is it, Bruce, to call the cops?

  2. Jeffjay60 says:

    It’ will go something like this. “Opps, OMG your right. So sorry. Her’s my wrist slap it. Not so hard silly. Happy now? U should B.

  3. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Schimel appears to have fought the law. The law should win.

  4. Carl Baehr says:

    Congratulations, Bruce. The JS gives you credit for raising the issue.

  5. Bruce Murphy says:

    Thanks Carl, but actually they only credited my first story, not the second one I did reporting that Schimel hadn’t self-quarantined and the state public defenders had criticized him for this, which the whole second half of their story discussed without noting the original reporting on this That’s typical for the JS, they hate to credit us or other publications.

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