Brad Schimel has shown an inability to run the DOJ properly
But Josh Kaul, 36-years old and a Stanford graduate, isn’t just another political firebrand: his credentials demonstrate his capacity for the office.
Kaul previously worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Baltimore where he “served in the narcotics section and prosecuted cases involving homicides, gangs and racketeering,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His work undoubtedly put some very bad people behind bars.
Still, the Republican Party of Wisconsin took a shot at Kaul earlier this week, suggesting that he works only for special interest causes.
“Josh Kaul has built his career as an attorney for liberal special interests and Washington insiders like Hillary Clinton,” the party’s statement read.
While it’s true that Kaul was an attorney who represented Clinton during the presidential campaign, it’s hardly indicative of what he’s accomplished in his career. Kaul has prosecuted violent drug dealers, and successfully challenged voter restrictions employed by the Wisconsin legislature, including limits to early voting. His work also helped to ensure that the state make it easier to provide ID’s to voters who didn’t have birth certificates.
The Republican Party’s statement also sought to highlight its own presumed candidate, incumbent Attorney General Brad Schimel.
Attorney General Brad Schimel has fought for Wisconsin families by improving public safety, upholding the rule of law, and stopping federal overreach from Washington.Let’s break that line down a bit. First, let’s look at improving public safety. In a blog post from last year, I pointed out that Schimel had complimented the concealed carry law in Wisconsin as making the state safer for law-abiding citizens — a characterization that is undeniably false: the state has seen a substantial increase in crime since concealed carry was passed.
Crime has gone up also during Schimel’s tenure: Schimel took office on January 5, 2015. By December of 2015, crime increased from 290 incidents per 100,000 citizens the year prior, to 305 incidents per 100,000. The murder rate also went up significantly, increasing by a rate of 45 percent during Schimel’s first year in office.
So can we put to rest the notion made by Wisconsin Republicans that Schimel made the state safer? They can’t possibly say as much when crime has actually gone up.
Let’s also consider the second assertion by the Republican Party of Wisconsin, that Schimel upheld the rule of law. It’s a strange notion to make, considering that the status of more than 6,000 rape kits are currently unknown in the state. Those kits remain untested even after $5 million has been given to Schimel’s DOJ specifically to address the backlog of evidence.
But never you worry: Schimel has instead prioritized the creation of commemorative coins that encourage recipients to “Kick Ass Every Day,” costing the state $10,000. When asked about this curious purchase, a Schimel spokesperson initially scoffed at reporter Dan Bice’s question by saying, “Your story is trivial and not a high priority for our communications shop at the moment.”
There’s one more thing that should be mentioned: Kaul’s mother is former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, who served from 2003 to 2007. But this point should be a footnote more than anything else: Kaul demonstrates, through his own impressive resume, that he’d be ready to tackle the job on day one.
Schimel, on the other hand, has already demonstrated his failure to effectively lead the state’s Department of Justice in a positive direction. His decision making is precisely what the Republican Party hypocritically warns against — it is a partisan process that caters to special interests.
Wisconsin deserves an attorney general that will provide excellent service, prosecuting the bad guys and running the DOJ in a respectable manner. We’d receive that with Josh Kaul in office. If more candidates come forward for Democrats, they should also be considered. But Kaul has a breadth of experience that would be hard to ignore.