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Issue of the Week: Van Hollen’s Sexting Cover-up

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

Oct. 27, 2010
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Wisconsinites were horrified to find out that then-Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz sent 30 unwanted, harassing “sexts” to a domestic violence victim whose former boyfriend was being prosecuted by Kratz. The district attorney clearly violated the public’s trust and acted unethically with the woman, who showed no interest in Kratz yet didn’t feel that she could complain about his conduct.

Since the Kratz case blew up in the press and more victims have come forward, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has criticized his fellow Republican’s behavior.

However, before those headlines made national news, Van Hollen had many chances to hold Kratz accountable. But Van Hollen utterly failed to do so.

Van Hollen has been covering his tracks in interviews by saying that he did all that he could to discipline Kratz and help the victim.

But a careful look at the timeline shows that Van Hollen did next to nothing when the case was brought to his attention a year ago:

  • Van Hollen did not tell the victim that a Calumet County resident could send a complaint about Kratz to the governor, who could then begin an investigation of the district attorney and potentially remove him from office.

  • Van Hollen did not tell the governor about the case.

  • Van Hollen and his investigators did not interview Kratz. They closed the case in a few days, finding that Kratz did not do anything criminal.

  • Van Hollen failed to turn in Kratz to the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), preferring to let Kratz do so himself. Kratz then wrote a self-serving letter to the OLR defending the actions. Not surprisingly, the OLR decided not to conduct an investigation.

  • Van Hollen allowed Kratz to resign from the state Crime Victims’ Rights Board. But Kratz didn’t offer the board a detailed reason for his resignation.

We’re not sure why Van Hollen mishandled this case before it hit the headlines. It could be yet another example of Van Hollen using his position to protect his fellow Republicans’ interests. Or it could be simple incompetence. Either way, we don’t think that Van Hollen acted properly or is fit to serve all Wisconsinites as attorney general.

And we’re not alone. The Republican-leaning Wausau Daily Herald stated that Van Hollen has given them “reason to lose confidence in his performance.

“Van Hollen’s actions in the Kratz case failed to protect the victim and failed to protect the citizens of Calumet County. We can’t look the other way,” the Daily Herald added. “… His brush-off of a serious accusation is a firing offense.”

Hero of the Week

Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee

A visit to any department store makes it clear that the holidays are fast approaching, but in this recessionary economy many people cannot afford gifts. The Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee’s annual “Holiday Giving Tree” program connects people in need with donations from area companies, schools, congregations and organizations.

Recipients of the $15-$25 gifts are children, teens and seniors in need, people with chronic illnesses and the disabled. The Volunteer Center distributes collected items through its member nonprofit groups.

If your company or organization would like to lend a hand to the community, please contact the Volunteer Center before Nov. 1 at 414-273-7887 or www.volunteermilwaukee.org.

Jerks of the Week

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board

It was no surprise that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorsed Republican candidate Scott Walker for governor. The paper and its talk-radio version, WTMJ-AM, have provided Walker with years of friendly, favorable coverage, even when it wasn’t warranted.

But the endorsement is still disappointing, since the paper’s backing of Walker seems so fraudulent. The JS’s endorsement of Walker reads more like an endorsement of Democratic candidate Tom Barrett. The paper calls attention to Milwaukee County’s “future implosion” thanks to Walker’s mismanagement, as well as his insupportable stance on embryonic stem cell research, his opposition to the “fast train” between Milwaukee and Madison, his savage cuts to the bus system, his “no-new-tax” gimmick that has brought the county to the brink of bankruptcy, and his horrific record at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. The paper even goes so far as to say Walker should adopt some of Barrett’s job creation and budgeting proposals. And the ideas that the paper endorsed—for example, Walker’s bid to sell off the airport—are terribly unpopular among county residents.

So after calling attention to all of the specific reasons why the Journal Sentinel editorial board does not like Scott Walker, they then state some generalities like his experience as the reason to endorse him. Experience like that the state can live without.

Clearly, the powers-that-be leaned on the editorial board. The company’s management is in lock step with the conservative Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), which desperately wants Walker to win, since he is eager to do their bidding with handing out our tax dollars to the big corporations and the state’s wealthiest residents—MMAC’s membership, no doubt, who are also the Journal Sentinel’s advertisers and readership base in the suburbs.

So it’s no wonder why the editorial board decided to go along with the Walker endorsement. The paper has been known to get rid of its employees in a heartbeat. Looks like the editorial board wants to keep their bosses and the conservative business community happy so they won’t have to fear for their jobs.


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