[Balsam Lake, Wis.] – Eric Toney’s bad week turned even worse on Tuesday as he attempted and failed to pivot his message away from news that he allowed a career criminal out on low bail just weeks before the man went on to kill an Appleton firefighter. In fact, Toney failed to discover Ruben Houston’s long record that included over a half dozen state and federal charges.
Toney blames a judge and absurdly points to a name change that prevented him from finding the entire record. Yet the Appleton Post Crescent, which lacks the resources of a District Attorney’s office, reported on the man’s criminal history nearly immediately after the tragic incident:
Authorities have released few details about what led to the shooting, but Houston’s criminal record in Wisconsin shows convictions for firearms possession, drug possession and other felonies dating back to 1990.
According to Wisconsin court records, Houston at one point went by the name Ruben Huston. His last name was spelled differently, but other characteristics, such as his birthday and race, match the name police released Friday.
Of course, district attorneys have many tools to identify past criminal convictions and Eric Toney failed to use them, now blaming the judiciary in an absurd excuse that a career criminal can hide from past convictions by simply changing his name. If that were the case, the entire criminal justice system would have collapsed long ago.
On Tuesday, Toney worked for a hard reset by holding a press conference and demanding that Governor Evers remove several members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. However, Toney’s proposal isn’t legal. The governor lacks the authority to take the action he is suggesting, exposing Toney’s political stunt in embarrassing fashion.
Adam Jarchow released the following statement in response to Toney’s press gimmick: “While Eric Toney is out doing political stunts and even initiating election prosecutions that he failed to pursue until becoming a candidate, my focus is on restoring order and keeping our citizens safe in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and other places across the state where violence is out of control.”
Below you will find some top-line coverage of Toney’s botched policy rollout.
“Toney held the press conference amid criticism over his office’s handling of a 2019 case in which a defendant out on $500 bail was involved in a shootout that killed an Appleton firefighter.”
–WKOW News, AJ Bayatpour, April 12, 2022
“A Republican candidate for attorney general is calling on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to remove five of the six members of the state elections commission, but attorneys for Evers and the Legislature say the governor doesn’t have the power to do so…
“Toney said in a news conference at the state Capitol that he is not making a similar call to Republican and Democratic legislative leaders because he believes Evers can remove all five commissioners on his own. But state attorneys don’t agree. Evers currently has the authority to remove just the two members — those he appointed, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Council, an agency of attorneys that provides legal analysis to lawmakers.”
–Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Molly Beck, April 12, 2022
“Toney insisted that Evers has the legal authority to remove the commissioners. But a nonpartisan attorney with the office that advises the Legislature said that Evers could only remove the two commission members he appointed. The other three — two Democrats and one Republican — could be removed by the legislative leaders who appointed them, said Legislative Council attorney Peggy Hurley.”
–Associated Press, Scott Bauer, April 12, 2022