By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Now that Gov. Tony Evers has brushed aside a complaint asking him to investigate Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, will the Legislature act to hold the controversial DA accountable for his failure to protect the public from an accused mass murderer?
There’s been talk around the Capitol about the possibility of impeachment. But the likelihood of the Republican-controlled Senate convicting the liberal district attorney seems a long shot, sources tell Empower Wisconsin.
The threshold for impeachment and ultimately conviction is higher than the conditions under which the governor may remove a district attorney.
The significant Republican majority in the Assembly would have more than enough votes to impeach Chisholm with a majority vote requirement. But it would require a supermajority of two-thirds of senators present to convict Chisholm in an impeachment trial. Republicans don’t quite have enough votes to get there, and it’s highly doubtful all 21 would vote to convict, anyway, sources say.
“As much as we’d like to take that action, it doesn’t seem that that’s a practical solution,” said Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha,) one of 16 Waukesha-area lawmakers to sign two letters demanding the governor fire Chisholm.
On Tuesday, Evers found a way to weasel out of dealing with the politically thorny question of John Chisholm and his long record of progressive policies that have released violent repeat offenders on the streets. The governor secretly hired a Madison attorney who proclaimed the complaint “insufficient” and not properly filed.
You’ll find lots of technicalities in the attorney’s opinion. What it ultimately screams is that the liberal governor, who supports Chisholm’s soft-on-crime criminal justice ideas, has spent more time attacking Milwaukee County citizens concerned about public safety than investigating why Chisholm’s office has on numerous occasions recommended “inappropriately low” bail for violent crime suspects.
“This is par for the course for this governor,” Allen said. “Everything he does is political. He positions himself as this so-called moderate, non-partisan governor, but the way he has governed has been entirely partisan. And now he’s trying to protect his Democrat friend and colleague John Chisholm and maybe Chisholm’s supporters. People are fed up. They’re just tired of this kind of gamesmanship.”
Late Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Wisconsin learned Evers was slinking out of his pledge to take complaints against Chisholm seriously, Darrell Brooks Jr., the man accused of mowing down Waukesha parade-goers with his SUV, was charged with dozens of more criminal counts. Among them, 61 counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, and two counts of bail-jumping.
Chisholm’s office had recommended a scant $1,000 bail for Brooks just days before he is suspected of running over and killing six people and injuring scores more in the Waukesha Christmas parade. He had been in jail on eerily similar charges, accused of driving over the mother of his child in the same SUV just three weeks before the Waukesha massacre.
“It’s clear Governor Evers put more effort into ignoring Wisconsinites’ legitimate concerns about John Chisholm’s dereliction of duty in the case of Darrell Brooks Jr. than investigating the wrongdoing by Chisholm’s office,” Sen. Julian Bradley (R-Franklin), another signer of the letters to Evers, told Empower Wisconsin. “I hope Governor Evers plans on calling each of the victims’ families to explain why he won’t do his job.”
Allen would like to see the Milwaukee County citizens revise their complaint so that Evers will accept it and take action. Would he? The governor, like liberal Attorney General Josh Kaul, has said he’d prefer Milwaukee County voters hold Chisholm accountable in the next election — in 2024.
Allen said Waukesha County and the rest of the Milwaukee area feeling the impact of Milwaukee’s surging crime problem can’t wait for the next election.
“It’s about correcting the path we are on. We are on a pathway that allows this kind of thing to continue,” the lawmaker said. “When you discover you’re on the wrong path, you need to stop and turn around and go in a different direction.”