Wisconsin’s attorney general is responding to criticism of a decision not to pursue charges against a former Democratic operative.
The decision, made public earlier this week, came months after the release of a video last fall by conservative activist James O’Keefe with Project Vertisas. The undercover video claimed to show a Democratic organizer discussing efforts to protest Republican candidates and carry out voter fraud.
The video resulted in the activist, Scott Foval, losing his job with a liberal advocacy group. Attorney General Brad Schimel also said shortly after its release that it looked like the actions could violate state election laws. However, a DOJ investigation later determined there was no criminal activity.
“We did take it seriously and looked at this to see whether there was something we could pursue…and just concluded there’s not anything that presented itself as a viable investigatory lead,” Schimel told WRN in an interview Thursday.
Schimel said there were two main issues with the video – it was not clear where the discussions took place and it was not clear when. “If it’s not specific enough that we can identify who did something, where they did it, we don’t even know where to start,” he said.
AUDIO: AG Schimel talks about decision to end investigation (1:10)
Schimel has faced criticism for the decision from both sides of the aisle. Democrats accused him of waiting months after the investigation was done to release the findings – acting only after media outlets filed open records request for the information. O’Keefe also released a video statement on Thursday, claiming the DOJ had not done a complete investigation because it had not viewed the full tapes.
O’Keefe argued the decision was about politics, and also threatened to investigate Schimel himself. “If the state of Wisconsin is not going to do their job…then you should be investigated. We should investigate you and you should loose your job,” he said.
Schimel said he had not seen the latest video statement released by O’Keefe.