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Schimel accuses Kaul of being soft on drug offenders

September 28, 2018
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FILE - In this July 11, 2018 file photo, Wisconsin Democratic attorney general candidate Josh Kaul speaks during an interview in Madison, Wisc. Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has launched a new television ad branding Democratic challenger Kaul as soft on drug offenders. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has launched a new television ad branding Democratic challenger Josh Kaul as soft on drug offenders.

The ad focuses on Kaul’s time as an assistant federal prosecutor in Baltimore, where he lived for several years before moving back to his home state with his family to work at a Madison law firm in 2014.

The statewide ad accuses Kaul of allowing the leader of an opioid ring to avoid a possible life prison sentence by reaching a plea agreement that resulted in a three-year sentence. The ad also accuses Kaul of reaching plea deals with more than 60 drug offenders.

“That’s a bad Kaul,” the narrator quips at the end of the ad, which began airing Sunday on cable and broadcast TV. Schimel announced the ad Friday. His campaign manager, Johnny Koremenos, declined to say how much the buy cost.

Asked for a response Friday, Kaul spokeswoman Gillian Drummond said Kaul prosecuted homicides and drug traffickers while Schimel has failed to curb Wisconsin’s opioid crisis. She didn’t address the specific attacks in the new ad, saying federal rules prohibit Kaul from speaking about sentencing decisions.

According to Schimel’s campaign, the opioid ring leader was April Lynn Baker. Online court documents show she and two men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Maryland on charges of distributing morphine and methadone that led to Brandon Sgaggero’s death.

The documents allege that in February 2008, Luis Miguel Reyes-Torres stole methadone and morphine from NMS Health care and gave it to Baker, who gave it to Ryan Andrew Hartley in exchange for marijuana. He then sold the drugs to Sgaggero for $60.

Sgaggero’s mother found him dead in his apartment days later. An autopsy revealed he had died of methadone and morphine intoxication.

Schimel and his allies have been working to paint Kaul as an inexperienced outsider in Wisconsin legal circles. Earlier this week, the Republican Attorneys General Association launched a TV ad ripping Kaul for never putting a single criminal behind bars in Wisconsin.

Kaul, the son for the late Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, grew up in Fond du Lac. He graduated from Stanford Law School and worked for a law firm in Washington, D.C., before joining the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore in May 2010. He worked there until early 2014. He moved back to Wisconsin because he wanted to raise his children in the state, Drummond said.

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This version of the story corrects the 5th paragraph to say Drummond says federal rules prohibit Kaul from speaking about sentencing decisions, not speaking about cases.

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Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1

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