October 25, 2014

Wisconsin Democrats file lawsuit over training videos

DPW Chairman Mike Tate (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

DPW Chairman Mike Tate (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

The head of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin says the public has the right to know what’s on training videos that feature Republican candidate for attorney general Brad Schimel.

Democrats are suing the state Department of Justice, after the agency refused to release the videos through an open records request. The agency cited concerns about victim privacy and argued that criminals could view them to learn tactics used by prosecutors. During a call with reporters Wednesday, DPW chairman Mike Tate questioned that reasoning, and voiced his belief that the objections are more about “J.B. Van Hollen and Brad Schimel trying to prevent the public from getting a full true picture of who Brad Schimel really is.” Tate believes the videos may contain something objectionable about Schimel that he says Republicans “don’t want the public to see.”

The videos in question come from training events for prosecutors organized by the state DOJ. Schimel, who serves as the Waukesha County District Attorney, participated in five such talks, although the DOJ says it only has videos from two of those events.

In a statement released Wednesday, Schimel offered his rationale for keeping the videos from being released to the public. “During many of my presentations I break down specific real-life cases and explain to my fellow prosecutors how we catch and prosecute those who try to prey on our children. I analyze known patterns of behavior and explain how my fellow prosecutors can exploit the common mistakes these men make. I help my peers become better prosecutors and keep more predators off the streets.”

Schimel also dismissed allegations that the videos show him doing anything improper, arguing that “I would not have been invited back again and again and again,” if that were the case. He also criticized Democrats for filing the lawsuit, accusing them of showing “callous disregard for the safety of Wisconsin’s children” by trying to make law enforcement’s playbook public.

A Dane County judge plans to review the tapes, before deciding whether Democrats should get to see them. A ruling on that could come at a hearing scheduled for next week, just days before an election where Schimel faces Democrat Susan Happ, the Jefferson County District Attorney.

President Obama to campaign for Mary Burke in Milwaukee next Tuesday

President Obama campaigns in Madison in 2012. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

President Obama campaigns in Madison in 2012. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke is getting some presidential help on the campaign trail.

The Burke campaign confirmed Wednesday that President Barack Obama will campaign with the Democratic nominee in Milwaukee next Tuesday. A specific time and location for the event have not yet been announced.

The president’s appearance will come just a week before Election Day, as Burke prepares to face incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker in a close race. The most recent Marquette University Law School poll showed Walker and Burke tied among likely voters, at 47 percent apiece.

Burke has already been joined on the campaign trail twice by First Lady Michelle Obama. Former President Bill Clinton is also scheduled to campaign for her during a rally set for this Friday in Milwaukee.

Lawmaker wants audit of Walker’s plane use

A state lawmaker wants an audit of the governor’s use of state planes. Representative Melissa Sargent wants an audit of the usage and costs associated with state aircraft by Governor Scott Walker. “Governor Walker’s been using the state plane more in first term than his predecessors,” Sargent said.

The Madison Democrat said Walker used planes for 34 flights under 40 miles, and 275 flights to the Milwaukee area. Sargent has sent a letter to the co-chairs of the Joint Audit Committee requesting that the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau conduct the review

Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick says nearly all of the shorter trips were legs on days during which Walker stopped in multiple locations, and nearly all the flights between Madison and Milwaukee were beginning or returning legs of much larger trips or returning legs. Patrick said Walker feels it’s important to get out of Madison and around Wisconsin to talk with the people of the state, and his schedule reflects that.

Three teens dead in Shawano County crash

Three teenagers killed in a head on collision in Shawano County late Tuesday afternoon have been identified as 18-year-old Tyler Welch and 17-year-old Cody Boersche, both of Shawano, and 15-year-old Paige Brunette of Bonduel.

The crash occurred on Highway 22 at Friendship Road southwest of Shawano. Officers arriving on the scene in the Town of Eau Plaine found that the driver of a car which had been northbound on Highway 22 had lost control, crossing into the southbound lane and colliding with a southbound SUV. Two people were pronounced dead at the scene. Two more were transported to the Shawano Medical Center, where one of them died a short time later.

Borsche, Welch, and the surviving car driver were all students at Shawano High School. Brunette went to Bonduel High School. The SUV driver was sent to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.


Wisconsin Assembly Republicans looking to next session (AUDIO)

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester)

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester)

The election is still two weeks away, but Republicans in the state Assembly are already turning their attention to the next Legislative session.

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and fellow GOP lawmakers outlined their ‘Forward Agenda‘ Tuesday at the Capitol. Vos said “the centerpiece of our agenda is really making sure that we focus on jobs and the economy. We want to create a better climate to grow jobs, we want to train workers for the high demand jobs that we know we are seeing all across Wisconsin, we want to help people find jobs faster so they can get back to work and support their families.”

The plan also calls for targeting public assistance fraud and reducing government regulations and red tape. Vos said “we’ll come back in January, we’re going to have an aggressive agenda ready to go on the floor, working together to try and move Wisconsin forward.”

AUDIO: Speaker Robin Vos on the Forward Agenda (1:01)

In a statement, Assembly Democratic leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) accused Republicans are “doubling down on the same failed agenda that has left Wisconsin dead last in the Midwest in job growth and facing a staggering structural deficit.” Barca added that it “appears Republicans have no intention of prioritizing support for our public schools, ensuring affordable health care coverage or many other important issues that are the building blocks of a strong middle class.”