Republican Brad Schimel, who is currently running for attorney general in Wisconsin, didn’t prosecute an attorney who deleted files from the computer of an aide to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) relating to an ongoing John Doe criminal investigation of the governor.
Schimel, as TPM noted on Thursday, is the Republican candidate for attorney general who said if he were attorney general in a state in the 1950s that banned interracial marriage he would defend that ban.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported late Wednesday that the attorney, Chris Wiesmuller, was able to avoid criminal charges by agreeing to a deal with Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel. They agreed to bring the situation to the attention of the Office of Lawyer Regulation, according to the Wisconsin newspaper.
Wiesmuller was reprimanded last year for destroying documents related to the John Doe investigation. The regulators found Wiesmueller violated rules because he attempted to negotiate a deal on behalf of client even though he hadn’t consulted with her.
Earlier in the year, Wiesmueller told Wisconsin’s Waukesha Now that he did not think he destroyed evidence related to a crime. He directed most of his questions to his attorney, Anthony Cotton.
Schimel’s campaign said that the investigation was appropriately sent to the Office of Lawyer Regulation because that office “has the resources and expertise to investigate and prosecute cases of lawyer misconduct.”
The backstory is that Wiesmueller did legal work for Darlene Wink, a former Walker aide from the governor’s days as Milwaukee County executive. Wink is the staffer who left her job with Walker’s office after news broke that she spent some of her work hours posting anonymous comments that praised Walker and criticized the governor’s opponents.
Wiesmueller, according to the five-page reprimand of him for his involvement in removing the files, directed Wink to get rid of evidence of political activity on her laptop. He also said he could help her do that. Wink gave Wiesmueller her laptop and he deleted the files on it and also downloaded software that removed records from the hard drive.
Wiesmueller eventually told prosecutors that they should file misdemeanors against Wink but not felonies. That was what he hadn’t discussed with Wink before he talked to prosecutors, according to the reprimand, a violation of attorney ethics rules.