The Cap Times summed up Brad Schimel’s performance as Attorney General accurately and succinctly when it called him the worst AG in state history.
Following are some of the outrageous actions Schimel has perpetrated on Wisconsin in fewer than four years:
• Although Schimel was awarded $7 million to process a backlog of 6,800 sexual assault evidence kits, he failed for nearly four years to get it done.
The kits, more commonly known as “rape kits,” contain evidence collected from the body and clothing of victims of rape or sexual assault. DNA samples gleaned from the kits are essential to prosecuting perpetrators of the crimes.
Under great pressure from the media and political foes, Schimel began processing the kits this year. By the end of May, evidence from 1,884 kits had been tested. Seventy-five of them yielded DNA matches with profiles in the FBI’s database. Two of those matches already have led to charges against men who’d been left free by Schimel to continue raping women for more than three years while he failed to carry out his responsibility.
Recently, Schimel announced that all the kits had been tested. He tried, without success, to turn that milestone into a bragging point for his re-election campaign.
Schimel, who is no friend to the truth, has lied several times to cover up the failure of his office to fulfill this critical responsibility. In one broadcast interview, he denied the state even had a backlog of rape kits. PolitiFact gave that bizarre statement a “pants on fire” rating.
Last fall, while the rape-kit evidence continued to languish untested, Schimel awarded his former crime labs director a $7,300 bonus.
Schimel’s Department of Justice has failed to deliver on all DNA testing. Recently, a judge blasted the DOJ for negligence. Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Borowski was forced to reduce bail for a defendant in a double-homicide case because the crime lab dragged its heels for so long in processing DNA evidence.
“For it to take more than three months — almost four months — to have a DNA result on a homicide case, is completely unacceptable,” Borowski said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In 2013, Schimel had the Republican Legislature pass a law imposing a DNA-testing fee of $200 on anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. The law was set to begin Jan. 1, 2014, but people convicted of crimes were given 15 months to provide their DNA. The delay, according to a suit filed against the law, was intended to give the DOJ time to raise funds to cover testing expenses.
The law was found unconstitutional.
• Part of Schimel’s DOJ budget went to self-promotions so tacky they could have been created by Donald Trump. Invoices obtained through an open records request last fall showed that Schimel spent $83,000 on swag to hand out as gifts to attendees at DOJ conferences.
He spent $10,000 for coins emblazoned with his personal mantra: “Kicking ass every day.”
Another $6,269 went for messenger bags with his logo and $6,000 went for pistol cases.
His office spent nearly $3,200 on candy and $100 on fortune cookies containing custom messages.
The liberal group One Wisconsin Now summed up the shameless behavior with the quip, “Schimel put the AG in swag.”
• There’s nothing Schimel cherishes more than joining in high-profile lawsuits — except when they involve opioids. He’s wasted many thousands of taxpayer dollars on legal cases that are not in the interest of Wisconsinites so he could rack up conservative bona fides to use in competing for a Republican nomination for higher office.
Meanwhile, he’s avoided getting involved in cases that would benefit Wisconsinites — for instance, a suit to maintain net neutrality.
Moreover, although two-thirds of Wisconsin’s counties have called on Schimel to join at least 22 other attorneys general in suing opioid manufacturers, he’s declined.
Could that be because Schimel has taken — and continues to take — donations from pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs being blamed for the crisis?
Take Purdue Pharmaceuticals, makers of Oxycontin, for example. In addition to contributing money directly to Schimel and Scott Walker, the company gave $300,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association in 2016. RAGA already has run ads attacking Josh Kaul, Schimel’s Democratic challenger.
Schimel’s first TV commercial did address the opioid crisis. But in it, Schimel blamed families, not Big Pharma.
• While taking a pass on suing drug companies, Schimel, with the backing of Walker, joined in expensive suits against Obama administration policies, particularly suits challenging environmental regulations.
He’s currently part of a suit under consideration by a federal judge in Texas to suspend the Affordable Care Act on the basis that it’s unconstitutional. Since the constitutionality of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court eight years ago, Schimel’s purpose in joining the suit has to be political. Nevertheless, taxpayers will foot the bill.
Suspension of the ACA would allow insurance companies to deny applications that contain previously existing conditions and wreak havoc on the industry.
• During his tenure, Schimel has sought to protect polluters from being held accountable for the damage they cause to the state’s water and air.
For instance, he limited the Department of Natural Resource’s authority to monitor or limit high-capacity wells, regardless of the damage they would do to nearby streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. Such mega wells, built for factory-scale dairy farms, are using up the state’s groundwater.
Schimel selected a dairy industry lobbyist to run his environmental protection unit.
Under Schimel, fines against polluters in 2015 fell to $306,834, while the average for the last 10 years was $2.2 million per year — seven times that amount.
• Schimel almost derailed economic development plans allowing Wisconsin farmers to grow hemp to produce CBD oil. The oil is used to treat seizures and other health problems, but it does not contain enough THC to produce the “high” that marijuana delivers.
Schimel said he’d “heard” about kids getting high on CBD oil and, based on that perception, he put the brakes on the state’s would-be hemp industry before it even got started by threatening to arrest farmers who produced the oil.
He quickly changed his tune after Republican lawmakers and the agricultural lobby stepped in to educate him.
If this incident makes Schimel seem less than intelligent, bear in mind that it’s not the only incident.
Schimel openly bragged during an interview that Republicans’ photo ID rules helped Donald Trump win in Wisconsin. He didn’t get the memo that his party was supposed to pretend the rules were adopted because of “voter fraud” that never actually existed.
Throw this bum out.