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Leftist group infiltrates state Justice Department

Empower Wisconsin | April 30, 2020

By M.D. Kittle  

MADISON — Liberal Attorney General Josh Kaul cut a deal with a left-wing group to bring a social justice warrior into the state Department of Justice — apparently at taxpayer expense. 

Madison native Colin Stroud is listed as one of the attorneys on Kaul’s legal team that filed a high-stakes motion this week with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Interesting that Stroud, a civil rights attorney, is joining an effort that defends Gov. Tony Evers’ constitutionally suspect lockdown orders that have broadly denied civil liberties.  

Stroud is a fellow with the California-based Public Rights Project — a far left social justice initiative that connects like-minded attorneys to “rewarding public service careers.” He’s doing a two-year stint at the state DOJ. 

Kaul is known for his progressive pedigree. So it’s no surprise the Democrat would bring in an attorney from a legal organization that was founded and is led by Jill Habig, former deputy campaign manager and policy director for Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate campaign. Before launching the Public Rights Project in 2017, Habig also served as special counsel to Harris when she was California attorney general. 

The liberal group also is led by Ben Chida, who previously served as legal and policy advisor for Harris’ attorney general’s office. 

PRP is a “social venture” of the Tides Foundation, a far left donor-advised fund that gives generously to liberal causes. Because it does not disclose the names of its contributors, Tides is the Achilles’ Heel in the progressive movement’s phony narrative about “dark money” in conservative politics and policy.  

“The Tides Foundation is the philanthropic Left’s best-kept secret. From Greenpeace to the anti-Israel J Street, there’s hardly a left-wing group that hasn’t taken Tides money. Using a sophisticated funding model, Tides has grown into the leading platform for laundering away ties between wealthy donors and the radical causes they fund—while generating hundreds of new organizations along the way,” Hayden Ludwig, of the Capital Research Center wrote. 

The Public Rights Project shares Tides’ mission, which is to “redefine local and state public law offices as proactive rights protectors.” That’s shorthand for social justice policies, applying the activist court principles of “affirmative litigation.” 

“Our Public Rights Project Fellowship places talented attorneys into our partner agencies to pursue affirmative litigation and advocacy for two years,” the organization’s website states. 

It appears Wisconsin taxpayers will pick up the tab for this collaboration between the liberal-led Attorney General’s office and the left-wing attorney training program. The AG’s office did not respond to Empower Wisconsin’s email seeking comment, but the PRP website notes fellows are paid an annual “stipend” of $60,000-$80,000 for their work. The overall cost is “approximately $150,000 per fellow per year.” 

Before joining the attorney general’s office last year, Stroud worked as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department’s Civil Rights Division, as a judicial law clerk for the Southern District of New York, and as an intern for the Obama administration’s U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. It was that division that orchestrated a four-year harassment and intimidation campaign against Wisconsin’s School Choice schools. 

A press release from the Tides Foundation notes the Public Rights Fellowship “empowers state and local prosecutors to protect the core rights and freedoms that define us as Americans by providing them with talent and resources to more proactively enforce their residents’ legal rights.” 

That philosophy would seem to run counter to the Attorney General’s defense of the Evers administration’s lockdown orders that have stripped many of the “core rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.” 

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