Vukmir says people should be fired, jailed over Walker probe
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir said Tuesday that people should be fired and go to jail over their roles in the now-closed secret investigation into Gov. Scott Walker that resulted in her personal emails being seized by investigators.
Hours later, the Republican majority leader of the state Senate asked Attorney General Brad Schimel to open a new investigation into actions of the now-defunct Government Accountability Board. Schimel, a Republican, needs to “ascertain exactly” what GAB leadership and staff were doing and what their motivations were during a series of investigations related to Walker, Fitzgerald wrote.
Schimel said he would comply with Fitzgerald’s request to open a new investigation with a broader focus if a Senate committee, controlled by Republicans, votes to authorize it.
Republicans have long argued that the John Doe investigations into Walker’s recall campaign were a partisan witch hunt. Schimel’s report earlier this month into how documents were leaked to a newspaper further enraged Republicans, as it revealed for the first time that millions of pages of documents were seized from Vukmir and 34 other GOP staff members, operatives and others.
“What was the reason my personal emails were looked at?” Vukmir said at a WisPolitics.com luncheon Tuesday. “I’m not a terrorist. That’s where it goes too far.”
Vukmir, a state senator from Brookfield, didn’t say who should go to jail. But she supported the call from Republican legislative leaders for current leaders of the Elections and Ethics commissions to resign. They have refused, and the boards that hired Michael Haas at Elections and Brian Bell at Ethics have stood by them so far.
Vukmir said she supported Schimel’s recommendation that contempt charges be brought against six former GAB employees and three workers at the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office for not following secrecy orders and protecting information collected during the probe. He did not recommend that Bell or Haas be found in contempt.
Vukmir led the Republican push to do away with the GAB in 2015. The Legislature replaced it with the Ethics and Elections commissions, which are run by Haas and Bell, both former GAB employees. Bell never worked on the secret John Doe probes. Haas worked on editing legal briefs filed by the GAB in response to lawsuits.
Schimel’s report revealed that 150 personal emails between Vukmir and her daughter were seized by investigators and saved as part of a probe into possible illegal campaigning on state time by Republican office holders and Capitol employees. The emails were placed into folders labeled “Opposition Research.” No one was charged and the GAB ended the probe in 2013.
Vukmir said the seizure of her personal emails, which included conversations with her daughter about health issues, was “unconscionable, it’s corrupt, it’s wrong.”
Vukmir said she was examining her legal options but didn’t say what they were.
Vukmir is running against Delafield businessman Kevin Nicholson in the Republican primary for Senate next year. The winner will face Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
On other topics, Vukmir:
— voiced support for the tax bill the House passed Tuesday, saying she was “very happy” with the final GOP compromise. Despite projections that the bill will increase the debt by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, Vukmir said she thought it would pay for itself through economic growth.
— said that she has a track record as a “consistent conservative” while her GOP opponent Nicholson’s record is as the former head of the College Democrats of America. Nicholson said he became a Republican in the late 2000s after serving in the Marines. Vukmir, a close ally of Walker, has been criticized by the conservative Club for Growth, which backs Nicholson, as a “Republican in name only,” or RINO.
“I find that rather curious,” Vukmir said. “Most of my career the left has vilified me for being an arch conservative. Now am I RINO. Which one is it? I can’t be both.”
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