With the possible exception of Gov. Scott Walker, no Wisconsin official over the past four years has been as unfairly maligned as Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel.
Democrats have exaggerated Schimel’s missteps and downplayed his accomplishments, culminating in liberal groups anointing Schimel the “worst attorney general in Wisconsin history.”
If you buy their claims, Schimel is a self-promoting partisan who wields his power to advance himself and the Republican Party.
Schimel’s critics went apoplectic, for instance, over reports his office bought some promotional items, including commemorative coins to acknowledge his staff’s achievements. Schimel told The Gazette Editorial Board he wouldn’t make those purchases again given the uproar that ensued.
But at worst, Schimel is guilty of spending too heavily on building staff morale.
There was also the outcry over his handling of untested sexual assault kits. This problem was many years in the making, and Schimel moved quickly to test the kits. The trouble was, many states and cities had similar backlogs of untested kits, and they all tried to get them tested at once. There weren’t enough laboratories to handle the flood of untested kits, and so Schimel had to wait longer than he would have liked to finish the testing.
The testing is now nearly complete, and Schimel has taken steps to ensure there’s never a backlog again. Going forward, the kits will have barcodes to allow victims to track their kits’ testing status.
“We resolved a problem that had built for 25 years in Wisconsin. I took this on voluntarily. No law required the department of justice to do this, but it was the right thing to do, and we got it done. It’s a victory. The criticisms are just political talking points,” Schimel said.
At worst, Schimel is guilty of inheriting a problem he didn’t create.
Similar exaggerations have been leveled against Schimel for his handling of the opioid crisis and challenges at Wisconsin’s juvenile detention centers. But again, he didn’t create these problems, and his office has taken the available steps to address them.
In terms of Schimel’s accomplishments, liberals are completely ignoring his ongoing efforts to make government more transparent. Schimel’s office responded this summer to concerns that some officials were inflating charges for copies of open records to discourage the public from seeking them. Many local offices charge between 15 and 25 cents per copy, but Schimel advised government officials charge only 1.25 cents for black and white copies and 6.32 cents for color copies.
Is promoting open government the kind of thing you’d expect from—if you believe Schimel’s critics—“the worst attorney general in Wisconsin history”?
Of course not.
But Schimel’s opponent, Josh Kaul, and his allies have become so fixated on advancing a liberal agenda they’ll say almost anything to defeat Schimel.
We’re not buying the anti-Schimel propaganda, and neither should voters.