Media Blackout on John Doe III Facts Persists

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald are now calling for the resignation of two Ethic and Election Commission administrators, after Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s report last week regarding the leak of thousands of private GOP emails. Attorney General Brad Schimel spoke with Media Trackers Director of Communications Jerry Bader Thursday on, among other things, his frustration with the mainstream media for refusing to report known facts about his report and the Ethics Commission’s response to it.

Schimel’s report last week brought to light a folder of thousands of private GOP emails labeled “Opposition Research” that were found on a former Government Accountability Board hard drive. This report has led to much debate on both sides, and Thursday Vos and Fitzgerald sent letters calling for the resignation of both Elections Commission administrator Mike Haas and Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell. In the letters they told both Bell and Haas, “You have lost the confidence of our caucuses to be an impartial administrator.”

Schimel hasn’t himself called for the resignations, but he is trying to bring light to facts omitted in the reporting of the dispute between himself and the Ethics Commission.  The Journal Sentinel reported that the Ethics Commission defended itself and claimed that Schimel’s report contained errors. The Journal also reported that Schimel denied to address what the Ethics Commission called inaccuracies, when in fact Schimel responded in a letter to the Ethics Commission:

“That’s absolutely false, we did give them a written response to their concerns but they don’t actually identify any errors or inaccuracies. They just don’t like the way some things are characterized and they want to clarify that some of these things, like making clear this was the GAB prior to the Ethics Commission. I don’t disagree with that, we made that clear that we’re talking about the GAB(Republicans in 2015 voted to replace the Government Accountability Board with the Ethics and Election Commissions.) staff that collected this Opposition Research.”

“They have the letter that we wrote to the Ethics Commission, we released that to our distribution list.”

Schimel also spoke to the other inaccuracies in the piece:

“We walked through each one of those things. The strangest one was their assertion, at how they know this I don’t know, but their assertion that the Opposition Research file, that’s how they found them, nobody at GAB created that. First off that doesn’t make any sense but it’s also demonstrably false. We know from the meta-data contained in those files, we know when and where they were created, they were created on a GAB hard drive on April 10th, 2012 after the materials were seized and search warranted.  This wasn’t something that a Republican that they got search warrants on had created on their computer and frankly that makes no sense. Why would a Republican be getting a search warrant to get the emails of other Republicans and then put personal emails of other Republicans in an Opposition Research file it doesn’t even make sense.”


Adding to Schimel’s frustration; the mainstream media has done little to spread awareness of the gross mishandling of thousands of private GOP emails. Schimel told Media Trackers that this was nothing new:

“This is a frustration that happens frequently with some media outlets in the state. Lots of times you have a headline that really doesn’t fit the story but the headline sounds terrible. This is a constant source of frustration for us.”

“Now when they see the extent to which they went into other things well beyond what anybody had any idea they were doing they could at this opportunity say wow now it’s too much, we’ve seen you go to far, and they should be joining the cry to make sure this never happens again.”

“When government starts violating the rights and safety of citizens that’s something to be truly fearful of. There should be outrage about this in every media source demanding people be held accountable, demanding we do something to make sure this never happens again. If they can do it to private citizens they can do it to reporters, well they did to it to reporters they did it to conservative talk radio hosts, they can do it to any of us and the newspapers should be outraged that this could happen.”

It has been three days since Schimel first pointed out the omissions and untrue claims in the Journal-Sentinel reporting. So far, they have not updated the story.


The full interview with Attorney General Brad Schimel can be found here: