The Racine County sheriff says he’s contacted the district attorneys in the home counties of five state Elections commissioners he wants charged with felonies after his own DA decided she lacked jurisdiction to prosecute them.
Sheriff Christopher Schmaling also again called on Dem AG Josh Kaul to open a statewide investigation.
Kaul spokeswoman Gillian Drummond said the facts don’t warrant a statewide investigation. And she noted Racine County DA Patricia Hanson also declined to prosecute employees of the nursing home at the heart of the probe who were accused of improperly requesting and returning absentee ballots on behalf of residents.
“Criminal investigators in DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation investigate violent crime and drug trafficking, among other offenses, and diverting them away from that important work protecting public safety based on speculation and an investigation that didn’t result in criminal charges against Racine County residents would be a poor use of DOJ resources,” Drummond said.
Schmaling’s call came after Patricia Hanson wrote him a letter Friday saying she believed the five commissioners had acted contrary to state law when they suspended a requirement that clerks send special voting deputies to assisted care facilities before mailing absentee ballots.
Still, Hanson also found she lacked jurisdiction in the case Schmaling forwarded her almost three months earlier because none of the five live in Racine County.
Schmaling said he will forward a request for criminal prosecution to the four DAs in the counties where the commissioners live.
Commissioners Ann Jacobs and Mark Thomsen live in Milwaukee County, while fellow Dem appointee Julie Glancey lives in Sheboygan County.
Commissioner Dean Knudson lives in St. Croix County, while fellow GOP appointee Marge Bostelmann lives in Green Lake County.
Thomsen declined comment until he’d seen more details of Schmaling’s call. Jacobs and Knudson didn’t immediately return phone messages yesterday, while Bostelmann and Glancey didn’t immediately respond to emails.
Milwaukee County Assistant DA Matthew Westphal, who specializes in election law, told WisPolitics.com yesterday he has not received a contact from the Racine County Sheriff’s office regarding the case. Still, he said someone else in the office of more than 100 may have received the message instead.
DAs in the other three counties didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
The commission originally voted unanimously in March 2020 to suspend the requirement regarding special voting deputies as nursing homes across the state refused to allow them to enter the facilities due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
GOP appointee Bob Spindell then broke with his colleagues on later votes as they continued to suspend the requirement. He was the only one Schmaling didn’t recommend to face felony misconduct in office charges.
Schmaling’s release, on official department letterhead, also suggested “state-wide voter integrity” should be an issue in the AG’s race this fall and encouraged the media to ask the “multiple candidates running” about it. The release noted there is a six-year statute of limitations for the charges Schmaling wants filed against the commissioners.
See the Schmaling release: