State attorney general makes his case for re-election
Brad Schimel comes to New London
By Scott Bellile
During a campaign stop in New London Friday, Nov. 2, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel attacked his Democratic challenger Josh Kaul and shared his views on President Trump, marijuana legalization, the state’s prison population and school safety.
Schimel met with 12 supporters for an afternoon conversation at Familiar Grounds Coffee Shop. His visit came four days before Wisconsinites head to the polls and decide whether to re-elect the Republican to his second four-year term.
“I am praying that come Wednesday morning, I’m waking up knowing that I’ll be continuing to defend the laws written by a Republican legislature and signed by Scott Walker,” Schimel told his listeners. “I hope that’s the case, but I’ll do my job if it’s not that.”
Also seeking re-election at the state level is Republican Gov. Walker, who faces Tony Evers Tuesday, Nov. 5. Three other state executives and most of the state legislature are also on the ballot.
“In today’s political climate, what are the consequences of the governor and the attorney general being different political parties?” Seth Cowan, president of the conservative Wolf River Area Patriots organization, asked Schimel.
Schimel said the attorney general must defend the laws passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, regardless of whether he or she agrees with them.
Schimel said last year he willingly defended a state law regarding land ownership before the U.S. Supreme Court despite believing it was a “terrible law.”
“If the attorney general respects the rule of law as I do, the consequence [of a Democratic governor] will be insignificant,” Schimel said. “The downside is I might have to defend more laws I don’t like. But that’s what I signed on for, and I’ll go have my fun with public safety,” another primary component of his job.
“My opponent talks about he’ll need to get in office and then he will assess each law to determine whether he thinks it’s constitutional and can be defended,” Schimel said. “Laws passed by the legislature are entitled to a presumption of constitutionality. As a matter of fact, a party challenging a state law, seeking to strike it down has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the law is unconstitutional. … The attorney general shouldn’t be making that assessment. The attorney general should defend the law and let the judge make that assessment.”
Around 80 percent of Wisconsin sheriffs and district attorneys have publicly endorsed Schimel, he said.
“I have 114 elected sheriffs and district attorneys that are publicly endorsing me,” Schimel said. “My opponent has one. He has the Milwaukee County DA. That’s it. I have got over 20 elected Democrat sheriffs and DAs who publicly endorse me, and I have several independent elected ones as well.”
Reached for comment Friday night, Kaul’s campaign senior adviser Gillian Drummond said in a statement: “Josh Kaul served a federal prosecutor in one of the most violent cities in the country, and he has been endorsed by 61 former Assistant Attorneys General. Brad Schimel is fighting to eliminate protections for people with a pre-existing condition, spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on commemorative coins with his name on them, and left over 4,000 rape kits untested for more than two years.”
Schimel acknowledged that many voters will view the midterms as a referendum on U.S. President Donald Trump.
Attendees complained the news media does not give Trump credit for his accomplishments.
Schimel said he believes had former President Barack Obama achieved the same outcomes in nuclear weapons discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as Trump had, there would have been more public celebration.
“I confess, I was nervous when he starts referring to the dictator of North Korea as ‘Rocket Man.’ … I wasn’t nervous about our safety because clearly our military would take care of that, but I was concerned, like does that give up the opportunity to talk [with North Korea]?” Schimel said. “Well it turns out he knows how to talk to these guys [and] then the deal that got struck for North Korea to dismantle their nuclear arms program.”
Americans have confidence in Trump’s leadership, Schimel said, pointing to gains in the stock market since his election.
“I don’t agree with all of the behavior and all of the things he says, but I am a fan of results,” Schimel said of Trump. “And I am also a fan of his novel idea that you keep promises. So you get elected to the White House and then you go do the things that you said you were going to do. He’s checking off boxes. He’s getting unnecessary regulations off of our backs. He’s letting farmers farm, letting employers employ people to build stuff in America, bringing jobs back, all stuff he said he’d do.”
“With medical marijuana, we should let the science drive this,” Schimel said. “If somebody does a study and concludes that this has beneficial effects, then do it. Not my concern. That’s for the scientists.
“The recreational marijuana, I do have great concerns. Colorado did this, and Colorado had a 200 percent increase in serious injury and fatal car crashes [where marijuana was in the driver’s system] after they went to legal recreational marijuana.”
According to a 2017 analysis by the Washington Post, one study found collision rates in Colorado have increased 3 percent since recreational marijuana was legalized. Another study found fatal crashes have not increased.
The Colorado Springs Gazette states that fatal crashes in which the driver had marijuana in his or her system increased 85 percent between 2014 and 2017. But because marijuana can remain in the bloodstream for weeks, that does not necessarily mean the driver was impaired at the time of the crash.
Crashes in which drivers had enough marijuana in their systems to be considered legally impaired dropped 32 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
While marijuana remains illegal in Wisconsin, Schimel said “no one” goes to prison for possession. He said he believes in continuing to issue county ordinance citations and use young offender programs to punish marijuana use.
Evers has expressed a goal of reducing Wisconsin’s prison population by 50 percent.
Schimel called this “reckless.”
“The answer to our prison population problem is to continue what we’ve been doing,” Schimel said. “When I became attorney general, there were 29 counties that had a drug or some type of treatment court available in them. We’ve increased that number. We now have 51 counties that have treatment courts and two tribal nations have them as well.”
Schimel said the solution is not to release who is already in prison – especially the violent inmates – but to instead reduce who is going to prison through the use of treatment courts.
According to PolitiFact, Evers has said he would consider releasing some inmates early and for good behavior. But he would also cut parole revocations, expand drug courts and treat 17-year-olds as juveniles instead of adults in some criminal cases.
Schimel said 97 percent of Wisconsin schools received School Safety Grants.
His office facilitated a $100 million program this year to improve physical security at schools and train teachers to better handle students’ mental health needs.
Grant dollars were awarded to local public and parochial schools, including $315,604 to the School District of New London and $338,893 to the Hortonville Area School District.
“We’re going to prevent acts of violence in the future,” Schimel said. “No other state in America is doing this. Just Wisconsin.”