Fond du Lac DA Eric Toney compared Dem AG Josh Kaul to a “plastic bag blowing in the wind,” while Kaul accused Toney of not knowing how the Department of Justice works. 

The exchanges came during a televised debate yesterday at the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Toney, 38, criticized Kaul for what he said was a change in stance on how elections should be administered. Toney said Kaul during the 2016 presidential recount argued humans would do a better job than machines because they could better tell the intent of voters. 

Kaul, 41, shook his head as he talked, but Toney continued.

“We need an attorney general that’s gonna be serious and not a plastic bag blowing in the wind whichever direction their liberal politics go,” Toney said. 

Kaul slammed Toney for standing alongside Michael Gableman as the former Supreme Court justice led a probe into the 2020 presidential election. 

“He supported his investigation, which spent over a million dollars of taxpayer resources investigating conspiracy theories,” he said. 

The debate was organized by the State Bar, and WISC-TV. The two candidates were each given 60 seconds to respond to questions from a panel of journalists and then another 30 seconds for rebuttal if their opponent mentioned them in their response. 

They also had several heated exchanges over DOJ vacancy rates and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force issues. 

Toney knocked Kaul as more of a politician than a prosecutor, highlighting Kaul’s lawsuit seeking to make the abortion ban unenforceable.

Kaul took several shots at Toney for proposing to have DAs cross county lines to prosecute crimes under the ban. He said the AG needs to be more focused on public safety.

Toney in a PBS interview that aired this month said one way to enforce the state’s abortion ban is “allowing for adjoining counties to be able to investigate and enforce that abortion ban in Wisconsin.”

Yesterday, Toney said he never proposed to let DAs cross county lines to prosecute abortion crimes. 

Kaul said there’s evidence Toney did make that proposal.

“It’s another example of this point that as attorney general, what you say matters,” he said. “You don’t get to walk it back weeks later because people will make policy decisions based on what you said.”

Toney continued his charges that Kaul has failed to fill vacant positions in the DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation, arguing that DCI Director Tina Virgil said in March her division had only 88 of 113 positions filled. 

“We can’t do things how we’ve always done it,” Toney said. “We do what local law enforcement does. We make sure whenever there’s a vacancy at the Division of Criminal Investigation, we begin to fill it immediately to not leave a nearly 25 percent vacancy rate at the Division of Criminal Investigation.”

Kaul accused Toney of lying. 

“You can’t have our state’s top cop knowing what he’s saying is false and continuing to repeat it,” he said. “That would be an awful position for our state’s attorney to be in.”

Kaul said DCI vacancy rates roughly track with the same numbers in GOP former AG Brad Schimmel’s administration, adding DOJ is in the process of hiring 12 more DCI agents. 

DOJ data provided to earlier this year showed DCI had filled 95 of all 108 authorized sworn positions. 

Kaul didn’t confirm or deny Toney’s allegation that the DOJ’s ICAC Task Force has a backlog of at least 1,000 child pornography-related tips to investigate. 

Toney said he knows his claim is true.

“The answer is yes, the backlog exists,” he said. “How do I know it? From DCI DOJ employees current and former that have talked with me as a district attorney president of our Wisconsin District Attorneys Association.”

Near the end of his 60 seconds, Toney turned to Kaul and fired away. 

“It’s a yes or no,” Toney said. “Are you behind more than 1,000 referrals that have not been assigned for investigation? Because families deserve to have an answer to this issue.”

Kaul charged Toney “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” He touted the ICAC Task Force as a national leader. 

“For example, we arrested a judge in Milwaukee County who was distributing child pornography,” he said, referring to former Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Brett Blomme. “The bottom line is that this program is a success and is keeping Wisconsin kids safe.”

Watch the video here.

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