In addition to the challenge coins promoting the agency’s “Kicking Ass Every Day” motto, Attorney General Brad Schimel’s Department of Justice has also bought candy blood clots, pistol cases and custom fortune cookies including the message “The time is right to make new friends.”
In all over the last two-and-a-half years, DOJ has spent more than $61,000 on promotional giveaways that the agency hands out at events and conferences it holds, according to purchasing card log reviews from the Division of Criminal Investigation and the Division of Law Enforcement Services obtained by WisPolitics.com.
Those purchases, which critics deride as spending on “swag,” are at the lowest they’ve been under Schimel’s leadership, those records show. The drop comes after critical reporting of the agency’s investment in brass challenge coins with “Wisconsin Department of Justice K.A.E.D.” stamped on the back.
The department’s purchase logs show DOJ spent money on items like pencils, pens, tumblers, cleaning cloths and mugs, but also include $6,480 for pistol cases for the Crime Information Bureau conference in 2015 and 250 custom fortune cookies for the vendors at the Jail Administrator’s Conference that same year for $101.76.
In total, the cookies had 15 different messages, including: “Confident people are able to laugh at themselves”; “Approach all areas of life with bold enthusiasm”; “Your everlasting patience will be rewarded”; and more.
The records also log multiple purchases of items like crime scene candy, murder ink sticky notes, bio hazard candy, and vials full of candy blood clots, which are described as “crunchy, cherry candies” by the seller, Arizona-based Crime Scene. A mix of those items was bought five separate times in 2015 and 2016 for giveaways at a number of conferences, totaling nearly $2,500.
Asked why DOJ would hand out candy blood clots, spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the agency buys candy and other handouts “just like all other organizations in this country that host conferences, public and private.” And he asked whether “it be more appropriate to buy Hershey’s kisses or Reese’s peanut butter cups.”
“The nearly 10,000 people who have attended DOJ conferences over the last two and a half years are law enforcement officers, prosecutors, crime lab analysts and technicians, victim-witness professionals, etc,” he said. “Whether it’s ‘blood clot candy’ or sticky note pads or whatever, spending a few dollars per person at every conference is a small price to pay for the people, especially the ones putting their lives on the line, who work every day to secure justice for crime victims and keep our communities safe.”
But the liberal One Wisconsin Now knocked the spending, with Research Director Joanna Beilman-Dulin saying it shows Schimel’s priorities are “grievously misplaced.”
“Stress balls, coffee mugs, commemorative coins, candy and souvenir flashlights and fortune cookies don’t solve crimes,” she said. “Yet our state’s top cop Brad Schimel is spending tens of thousands of dollars every year on this and other swag.”
See more in Monday’s PM Update.