Dem Josh Kaul, a former federal prosecutor in Baltimore who has been involved in voter rights cases since moving back to Wisconsin, today launched his campaign for attorney general, the office his mother held from 2003-2007.
Kaul said in a phone interview the AG’s focus should be on protecting Wisconsin families, including reducing crime and enforcing consumer protection laws, as well as the environment.
“I don’t think we’ve had that under Brad Schimel,” Kaul said. “I think far too much of his focus since he’s been in office has been on politicizing the office.”
Kaul cited Schimel’s creation of the office of solicitor general as an example of politicizing the agency. He knocked the AG for using the office to challenge a federal regulation guaranteeing overtime to those who put in extra hours and make between $23,000 and $47,000 a year. Kaul also dinged Schimel for spending $10,000 of taxpayer money on challenge coins.
State GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said Kaul built his career as an attorney for “liberal special interests and Washington insiders like Hillary Clinton.” Kaul’s resume includes representing Clinton during the recount of Wisconsin’s presidential results.
“By contrast, Attorney General Brad Schimel has fought for Wisconsin families by improving public safety, upholding the rule of law, and stopping federal overreach from Washington,” Zimmerman said.
Kaul’s campaign website says he “grew up in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac in a family of law enforcement professionals and teachers.” But it does not mention by name his mother Peg Lautenschlager, who served one term as the state’s top cop, is a former federal prosecutor and served in the Assembly.
“I love my mother like any son who was fortunate enough to grow up in a great family that encouraged education and public service should,” Kaul said. “But I’m running based on my own experience and based on the places I think Brad Schimel has let the state of Wisconsin down.”
Lautenschlager resigned from the state Ethics Commission on Friday, writing in a letter when appointed she did not “anticipate several factors that have arisen that mitigate against my continued service.” The letter did not specify what the factors were, and she has not returned calls Friday or today seeking further comment.
Kaul deferred to his mother on the reasons she resigned, but said “I’m confident she wanted to make sure there was no potential conflict with my running.”
Jefferson County DA Susan Happ, who ran for AG in 2014, has been considering another run for the office, as well as a bid for guv.
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