Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel disappointed Republicans today when he announced he would not pursue charges against several members of the state election board and attorney Mike Maistelman for violating the state's open meetings law. Schimel's predecessor, Paul Bucher, disagrees strongly. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Bucher strongly disagreed.
He said he had sent Schimel a long memo about the evidence and would volunteer to pursue the case as a special prosecutor if asked.In his statement, Schimel argued that the case was not provable.
"I think this case, more than any other I've ever seen, screams for an open meetings violation," said Bucher, now in private practice. "If this case doesn't require an open meetings violation, there isn't another on the face of the planet that does."
Bucher conceded that winning the case would be challenging, but said "the egregious nature of the violation" requires prosecution. He dismissed criticisms that he had played politics with his statements before the election.
Sean at the American Mind reminds us this case went beyond the simple communication Schimel describes.
Realize Maistelman didn’t engage in simple lobbying. He told board members why they needed to stick it to Mark Green and why it was good politics to do so. The most infamous e-mail deals with the latter:Ironically, Maistelman and the Democrats on the state elections board are escaping prosecution at the same time Democrats on the national level are pushing for more openess in government. It's also "Sunshine Week," an annual attempt by members of the media to bring more openess in government. Unfortunately when a case like this comes along that tampers with the safeguards of the electoral process and still there is no prosecution, all we have done is encourage politicians at every level to believe there is no penalty when they are caught violating the law. This certainly qualifies as one of the lowest moments in the history of Wisconsin state politics.
“Even if this ends up in Court it is a PR victory for us since it makes Green spend money and have to defend the use of his Washington DC dirty money,” Maistelman said in a 9:31 a.m. e-mail one day before the vote. He sent the message to Carl Holborn and Kerry Dwyer, board members appointed by Democratic leaders of the Legislature.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Maistelman was unwilling to comment, deferring all questions to the Doyle Administration. Maistelman is a reader of this blog and has commented here before, so we'll see if he has something to say.
Note: This is not the first example of a disagreement between Schimel and Bucher since Bucher's retirement.
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