By M.D. Kittle
MADiSON — Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm will not get a raise in the coming years. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations made sure of that Tuesday as it approved an overall state employee compensation package.
The move comes as the embattled district attorney faces a formal citizen complaint asking Gov. Tony Evers to fire him after Chisholm’s office recommended $1,000 bail for the man suspected in the Waukesha Christmas Parade massacre.
The committee’s action freezes Chisholm’s pay beginning in 2022 through 2024. He was slated to receive annual 2 percent salary bumps. Chisholm brings in $145,288 a year, plus a bounty of taxpayer-funded benefits.
But state Senate President Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) said Republicans wanted to “send a shot across the bow,” doing what they could do to highlight the “gross negligence “ in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.
“Although it’s not a huge step, we actually line-itemed the District Attorney’s office in Milwaukee out form the raises the rest of the district attorneys in the state are going to get,” Kapenga said.
He said it’s up to the governor now, who claims he will take the complaint against fellow Democrat Chisholm “seriously.”
Milwaukee County citizens allege Chisholm has been “derelict in his duties” as the county’s top prosecutor, citing low bail for multiple violent offenders who are accused of going on to kill over the past few weeks. The most egregious example, the complaint notes, is that of Darrell Brooks Jr., the 39-year-old Milwaukee man who is charged with six counts of homicide among other felonies after he drove his SUV into last month’s parade, injuring more than 60 people. Just days before the massacre, Chisholm’s assistant DA recommended $1,000 bail for Brooks, who had been arrested on charges of recklessly endangering safety after running over the mother of his child. Brooks has a long and violent rap sheet.
Chisholm acknowledged the bail recommendation was “inappropriately low,” but blamed the “mistake” on a young prosecutor who did not have access to a risk assessment on Brooks. Chisholm said such errors were rare in his department. They are not, according to recent reviews showing alarmingly high percentages of violent offenders released on low bail amounts.
“We just said there is absolutely no way that we are going to pass a pay raise on to a district attorney who has not just this performance issue, which I believe led to the deaths of constituents, but it’s a long history of it,” Kapenga. “This is not the first time we’ve seen these problems with Chisholm.”