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.