Brief

Kaul denounces Racine Sheriff’s charges as ‘publicity stunt’

By: - November 4, 2021 4:46 pm
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul speaking

Attorney General Josh Kaul (photo by Susan Ruggles CC BY 2.0)

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul forcefully criticized the decision of Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling to recommend charges against five of six members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. 

Kaul, who has refused Schmaling’s request to open a statewide investigation into voting in nursing homes during the 2020 election, said the decision to recommend felony and misdemeanor charges against the commissioners was clearly a political effort.

“This disgraceful publicity stunt shows an appalling lack of judgment,” Kaul said. “This is a transparently political effort and an abuse of authority.”

In a news release on Wednesday, Schmaling said he’d recommended multiple charges of misconduct in public office and election fraud against every commissioner except Republican Robert Spindell to Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson, also a Republican. 

Republican officials and lawmakers have used Schmaling’s allegations as another way to undermine the results of the 2020 election, which was held safely and securely, according to experts. Multiple reviews, recounts, investigations and court decisions have affirmed the election was won by Joe Biden. 

Elections officials have insisted that no laws were broken. Schmaling is alleging that when commissioners voted, unanimously, in the spring of 2020 not to send people into nursing homes to assist residents with voting they violated the law and contributed to nursing home staff coercing residents into voting. 

Commissioners and elections commission staff contend that if they hadn’t made that decision, nursing home residents — who were unable to receive  visitors because of COVID-19 precautions — would have been disenfranchised. 

“Well, first of all, they didn’t break the law,” Kevin Kennedy, former chief state elections official, told WISN on Thursday. “They were told you were not going to get access and the law is very clear, then you mail the ballots if you can’t deliver them, and that’s what happened.”

Kaul was not the only Democrat to criticize Schmaling’s decision to recommend charges. 

“The Racine Sheriff IS the election fraud,” Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) tweeted on Wednesday. “People who are throwing around false accusations to cast doubt on our democracy should be called out for it, not given a platform to spread it.” 

Hanson has so far not made a decision on whether or not the commissioners will actually be charged with a crime.

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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.

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