The candidates in the race for Wisconsin Attorney General sparred over their views on how the Department of Justice should be run, as they met Friday night in a forum on Wisconsin Public Television.
Democratic challenger Scott Hassett went on the offensive right away, charging that Republican incumbent Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has let partisan politics drive many of the decisions made by his office in the last four years. Hassett said Van Hollen has repeatedly put politics over public safety in running the agency.
Hassett pointed to Van Hollen’s refusal to defend a law granting domestic partner benefits and a lawsuit filed against the Government Accountability Board over voter registration as examples.
Van Hollen maintained that the cases DOJ takes up are based on the rule of law, not partisan politics. He says there have been many cases and opinions that he’s taken up that have angered just as many Republicans, such as a defending the state against a lawsuit over raids from the Patient’s Compensation Fund.
Hassett says that may have been the case during Van Hollen’s first two years in office, but claims there’s been a “180 degree turn” recently after Van Hollen angered his Republican supporters.
Hassett, a former DNR Secretary and attorney, refuted claims that he lacks the experience as a prosecutor needed to serve as Attorney General. He pointed to decades of experience litigating cases across the state and five years with the DNR as proof that he has the experience needed to head the Department of Justice.
Hassett also challenged Van Hollen to at least two more debates. Van Hollen agreed, if time can be found to hold them before the election.