Mandela Barnes said months ago he ‘finished’ college but now says he didn’t graduate
August 8, 2019
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes told the public months ago he finished college and received a degree but now says he didn’t graduate.
Barnes told the Madison weekly newspaper Isthmus recently he left college about 10 years ago before completing his degree at Alabama A&M University.
“I had a class. I got an incomplete. I completed the coursework to get that incomplete resolved. It never got turned in,” Barnes told the newspaper. “It’s a small technical thing.”
In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in November, Barnes said twice he “finished” college in 2008, prompting the Journal Sentinel to report that he graduated from the university.
Barnes also said during a September episode of the Capital Times’ podcast “Wedge Issues” that he “finished college” in 2008.
In a candidate questionnaire published in 2018 by the Wisconsin State Journal, Barnes was reported answering that he received a “BA in Broadcast Journalism” from Alabama A&M University, which would mean he had earned and graduated with the bachelors of arts degree.
The State Journal published what Barnes supplied the newspaper for the Q&A feature, according to the newspaper. Barnes’ Facebook page also says he graduated in 2008.
Several other media outlets have reported Barnes’ 2008 graduation from the Alabama university, and he has been described as a graduate at public events.
His campaign Twitter account also retweeted a story published in November by the Huntsville Times in Alabama with the headline “Alabama A&M graduate becomes first black lieutenant governor of Wisconsin.” In May 2018, Barnes also tweeted photos of him in a cap and gown at the university’s graduation ceremony.
University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism professor Michael Wagner, who specializes in political communication, said it’s unclear whether the episode will matter to voters should he seek another political office.
“It’s pretty cut and dry that he lied and that usually doesn’t sit well with the voters,” said Wagner. But the impact in a polarized electorate is unknown, he added.