Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu Won’t Call Session to Fire John Tate Due to Political Calculation

Only 8 of 33 state Senators responded to our questions asking whether they would fire Evers’ Parole Commission chair John Tate. Seven now say the senate should enter into extraordinary session and said they would vote to fire Tate.

Devin LeMahieu, the state Senate’s Majority Leader, is refusing to call an extraordinary session to fire Tony Evers’ embattled Parole Commission chairman John Tate because he wants the issue to be an “albatross around the neck” of Evers in the November election.

He wasn’t the only state senator to place political tactics over public safety, but his position has the most weight. If LeMahieu won’t call the session, it won’t happen.

State Sen. Duey Stroebel told Wisconsin Right Now that he would fire Tate if it came to a vote, but he said he also believes it will help Republicans more politically not to act. He is also concerned that Republicans could be accused of racism because Tate is black.

“If we come in and take the vote, which will only result in an immediate and equally bad replacement, the left can frame the narrative as unprecedented, partisan, and possibly even racially motivated,” he said.

Five other state senators said they would vote to fire Tate, with most of them citing public safety reasons. The rest did not respond. No Senate Democrats responded.

Evers has also refused to fire Tate, even though the governor urged Tate to reverse the parole of wife-killer Douglas Balsewicz under great pressure last week. The Republican vow of inaction leaves Tate, who recently caused controversy by paroling and then rescinding the parole of Balsewicz, in charge of the powerful commission, with authority to release inmates into the community.

It also leaves victims’ families stuck in the middle of a political game of chicken between Evers and legislative Republicans. The family of murderer Douglas Balsewicz has called for either Evers or Republicans in the Senate to remove Tate because of what they believe was egregious decision-making and notification failures in that case.

LeMahieu‘s refusal comes after four Republican candidates for governor and attorney general urged the Republican-controlled Legislature to call the extraordinary session this week and exercise the majority’s power to reject Evers’ nominee. Even though Evers nominated Tate to the powerful position way back in 2019, the Senate has never confirmed or rejected him. Thus, they have the power to fire him.

To be clear, Evers could fire Tate. He hasn’t. The Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate could fire Tate. But LeMahieu won’t bring it to a vote.

Devin lemahieu
Devin lemahieu

In an email to Wisconsin Right Now, LeMahieu, a Republican from Oostburg, made it blatantly clear that he thinks Republicans have more to gain politically if they don’t fire Tate, despite his initial decision to release a man who stabbed his wife 42 times.

“Wisconsin needs a new governor–plain and simple. This near-miss parole issue highlights that fact once again,” LeMahieu said. “The State Senate will not bail Tony Evers out from his soft-on-crime record. He should either withdraw his appointment or have to answer to the voters. If he refuses to remove John Tate and Milwaukee D.A. John Chisholm, that will remain a political albatross around his neck and a perfect opportunity for the Republican gubernatorial nominee to make the case to replace Tony Evers.”

In all, we reached out to all 33 state senators (21 Republicans, 12 Democrats) and asked them these questions:

1) Do you think the senate should go into extraordinary session this week and take a vote on Tate? Why or why not?

2) Will you vote to remove Tate as parole commission chairman? Why or why not?

Only eight responded, all Republicans. Of those, LeMahieu said he would not call a session for a vote, and 7 said they would vote to fire Tate. They are Julian Bradley, Dale Kooyenga, Duey Stroebel, Pat Testin, Andre Jacque, Steve Nass and Roger Roth.


Majority Leader Senator Devin LeMahieu

“John Tate’s bungling of this parole case highlights an important issue that often flies under the radar: The Office of the Wisconsin Governor is responsible for an enormous list of appointments beyond agency secretaries.

Wisconsin needs a new governor–plain and simple. This near-miss parole issue highlights that fact once again. The State Senate will not bail Tony Evers out from his soft-on-crime record. He should either withdraw his appointment or have to answer to the voters. If he refuses to remove John Tate and Milwaukee D.A. John Chisholm, that will remain a political albatross around his neck and a perfect opportunity for the Republican gubernatorial nominee to make the case to replace Tony Evers.

Tony Evers should have to answer for John Tate and John Chisholm all summer and fall. If we take Tate off the table, the issue dies. We need a new governor more than we need John Tate replaced by another soft-on-crime liberal.”


Senator Steve Nass

During this entire session, I have been advocating for the Republican State Senate to reject numerous Evers’ appointees either based on their extreme policy positions or poor performance on the job while awaiting a senate confirmation vote. Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues would rather ignore the damage that has been done or is continuing at the hands of incompetent or extremist Evers’ appointees.

I believe the State Senate should come back into session and immediately reject the appointment of Parole Commission Chairman John Tate.


Senator Roger Roth

Roth told WRN that he believed the Senate should enter into an extraordinary session and vote on Tate’s confirmation. Roth said he would vote to not confirm Tate. He called the situation “Liberalism gone amuck” and that it shows how broken the Evers administration really is.


Senator Duey Stroebel

Update: on Wednesday morning, Stroebel sent WRN a follow-up email in which he now supports the senate entering into extraordinary session to vote on Tate,

“I have carefully weighed the pros and cons of the Tate situation.  Obviously what Tate did was a travesty and totally indicative of Evers attitude regarding the criminal element in our state.  We must always remind the voters that Evers put Tate in that position.  We must also understand that as long as Evers is our governor, he will continue to appoint people of that ilk to that position.

While I have publicly stated I would vote to remove Tate if it came to a vote, I did not support the Senate coming back to take that vote. That being said, outside of politics, we need justice in our state first and foremost.  Second, I believe I should support our Republican gubernatorial candidates, who have universally advocated for his ouster.  Therefore, after further consideration, I support the Senate taking the vote to remove Tate from the Parole Commission.”

Stroebel’s original comment:

“If there were ever a vote to be taken on confirming John Tate, I would vote against confirmation. That being said, I think it would be a mistake to bring in the Legislature to take such a vote at this time. John Tate is now the face of extreme liberal appointments Tony Evers must answer for. If we come in and take the vote, which will only result in an immediate and equally bad replacement, the left can frame the narrative as unprecedented, partisan, and possibly even racially motivated. All news coverage going forward now is about the Evers appointee doing X. I believe that is the coverage angle we want.”


Senator Julian Bradley

“I fully support calling an extraordinary session to reject John Tate’s appointment. Public safety should be our top priority. If Tony Evers can’t be bothered to hold John Tate accountable for releasing violent criminals, the State Senate should.”


Senator Dale Kooyenga

A spokesperson told us Kooyenga is on Army orders at Fort Bragg this week. “I was able to connect with Dale on this. He would love to vote to rescind Tate’s appointment if given the opportunity,” he said.


Senator Patrick Testin

“Yes, I do believe that the Senate should go into extraordinary session to vote on John Tate’s confirmation, and yes, I would vote against his confirmation. Tate’s initial decision to parole Douglas Balsewicz is proof of his willingness to put the feelings of criminals – even murderers – above the rights of victims. The Senate must act to remove him if Governor Evers will not.”


Senator André Jacque

“Yes, I would certainly support the Senate convening an extraordinary session for the purpose of rejecting John Tate’s appointment as Chairman of the Parole Commission.  I expressed my concerns regarding the appointment to the office of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Chair, Sen. Wanggaard, earlier this session in light of Mr. Tate’s troubling actions. Particularly as we solemnly commemorate Peace Officer Memorial Day this week, I am reminded of John Tate’s prior decision in 2020 to order the release of an unrepentant Lavelle Chambers, who was involved in the killing of Milwaukee police Sgt. Michael Tourmo, whose widow now resides in my district.

I am proud to be the Senate author of WI Act 227 (with Assembly author Rep. Wichgers), truth-in-sentencing legislation which will now prohibit criminals who commit violent offenses from receiving early release to parole or extended supervision.  Unfortunately, due to barriers to the constitutionality of ex post facto laws, Act 227 is not able to retroactively apply to convictions for violent crimes that occurred prior its enactment, as demonstrated by John Tate’s ability to make the egregious initial decision to release convicted murderer Douglas Balsewicz. Thank you for thorough reporting on this attempted miscarriage of justice.”

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Dan Kelly Won’t Commit to Endorsing Jennifer Dorow if She Wins Supreme Court Primary

(The Center Square) – The harsh feelings over Wisconsin’s last race for Supreme Court are casting a shadow over the current race for the high court.

Former Justice Dan Kelly, who is running for the court, said Tuesday night that he won’t endorse Judge Jenifer Dorow if she wins the primary for Supreme Court in three weeks.

“Before I endorse, I need to see proof of what a person means when they say they are a judicial conservative,” Kelly said at a judicial forum hosted by the Republican Women in Greater Milwaukee. “I need to see it in writing, I need to see it in speeches, I need to see it in opinions, I need to see it somewhere. Because I am not going to endorse any more unless there is that proof.”

Kelly said his endorsement of Justice Brian Hagedorn has him taking such a strict stand now.

“I took a risk,” Kelly added. “I endorsed him, I campaigned for him, and I helped him get on the Supreme Court. And when he came, it turned out he really wasn’t [a judicial conservative.]”

Hagedorn has become the swing vote on the court, and has ruled with the court liberal members several times.

Kelly’s comments go along with a theme of this year’s race, that Dorow may be another non-conservative Republican judge.

Dorow said she was conservative enough for other conservatives to seek her endorsement.

“My background and my experience, apparently, was good enough for each of them to ask for my endorsement at one point. I didn’t always give it, but I was asked,” Dorow said. “And now, apparently, it’s not good enough to get the endorsement back.”

Kelly served four years on the Wisconsin Supreme Court before being defeated in 2020.

Dorow has spent her career as a prosecutor and a judge. She most famously presided over the Waukesha Christmas Parade killer’s trial.

Kelly said voters can judge him based on his years of rulings as a judge and Supreme Court justice. Dorrow doesn’t have the same history.

Dorrow said her focus is not on splitting the Republican or conservative base, and not allowing the Supreme Court to flip to a liberal majority.

“I’m not going to take a chance to take somebody out, so the Left can win this election," Dorow added. “We need to win this.”

Kelly brushed off that criticism.

“My commitment today is the same as it’s been my entire career, and always will be. I will promote judicial conservatism in every way that I can.”

Voters will choose between Kelly and Dorow, and two liberal judges Everett Mitchell and Janet Protasiewicz in the primary on Feb. 21. The top two vote getters will then face off in April.

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Biden’s Second Home Searched By FBI for Classified Documents

President Joe Biden's personal residence in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, was searched by the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday as part of an ongoing probe into classified documents, according to a statement released by Biden's personal attorney.

"Today, with the President's full support and cooperation, the DOJ is conducting a planned search of his home in Rehoboth, Delaware," attorney Bob Bauer said in a statement. "Under DOJ's standard procedures, in the interests of operational security and integrity, it sought to do this work without advance public notice, and we agreed to cooperate."

Earlier this month, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Hur as special counsel to lead the investigation into Biden after classified documents were found at Biden’s office at the Penn Biden Center and at his home in Delaware.

CBS has reported that investigators found classified documents at a former private office of Biden's in Washington, D.C. The Department of Justice did a search of the president's main residence in Wilmington, Delaware, as part of the probe.

RNC Research, run by the Republican National Committee, responded on Twitter to the search.

"On January 12, the White House said SIX TIMES the search for classified documents was 'complete.' The FBI is currently searching Biden's beach house," RNC Research tweeted.

Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, tweeted, "Being told, this was a preplanned, consensual search. This is not a search warrant that the FBI is executing. Big difference."

Vance compared the searches involving Biden for classified documents to that of former president Donald Trump.

"Biden let the FBI come in & search," Vance tweeted. "Prosecutors obtained a search warrant from a fed'l judge for Mar-a-Lago based on probable cause to believe evidence/fruits of a crime would be found on the premises."

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Milwaukee Police Breaking News – Wed, 1 Feb 2023

Milwaukee Police are investigating a non-fatal shooting that occurred on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, at approximately 11:51 p.m., on the 7600 block of W. Capitol Dr. The victim, a 40-year-old Milwaukee male, was conveyed to a local hospital for treatment. The investigation is ongoing. Milwaukee Police continue to seek unknown suspect(s).Anyone with any information is asked to contact Milwaukee Police at (414) 935-7360, or to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at (414)224-Tips or P3 Tips. The City of Milwaukee is subject to Wisconsin Statutes related to public records. Unless otherwise exempted from the public records law, senders and receivers of City of Milwaukee e-mail should presume that e-mail is subject to release upon request, and is subject to state records retention requirements. See City of Milwaukee full e-mail disclaimer at www.milwaukee.gov/email_disclaimer
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Judicial Conduct Complaint Filed Against Protasiewicz For Prejudging Cases

(The Center Square) – There’s now a formal complaint over how one of the liberal candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is campaigning. A western Wisconsin man, Randall Cook, filed the complaint Monday.

He said Judge Janet Protasiewicz has violated the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct by talking openly about how she’d rule on cases that will likely come before the Supreme Court. Specifically, the complaint says Protasiewicz has called Wisconsin’s political maps ‘"rigged," and has said she supports abortion and same sex marriage laws.

“Put simply Judge Protasiewicz is promising her vote on certain cases as a way to win over voters,” Cook said in his complaint. “This is completely unethical and cannot be condoned. As a result of her statements, there is no way Judge Protasiewicz can impartially participate in any future case involving Wisconsin’s current legislative maps or any legal challenge involving abortion law.”

Candidates for the court are not supposed to tip their hand about how they may rule.

Cook added that not only are Protasiewicz’s comments wrong, they hurt the reputation of the court itself.

“It is inappropriate for lower court judges to criticize judicial decisions of higher court judges. Such comments are out-of-bounds and undermine the public’s confidence in the judiciary,” Cook wrote.

Wisconsin’s Republican Party said the court should, at the very least, order Protasiewicz to recuse herself from any case that she’s talked about during the campaign.

“Janet Protasiewicz has decided to disregard her obligation to abide by the Code of Judicial Conduct in her pursuit of a place on the Supreme Court. The Judicial Commission must act and Protasiewicz clearly must recuse herself from participating in cases involving redistricting, abortion and Act 10 union reforms because she’s absolutely unwilling to hear them with an open mind,” Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Mark Jefferson said. “A high court candidate has never taken such an extreme stand in defiance of her responsibility to remain unbiased or set aside her personal beliefs on cases set to come before the Court, and Wisconsin deserves much better than the liberal personal agenda of Janet Protasiewicz.”

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Milwaukee Police Breaking News – Tue, 31 Jan 2023

The Milwaukee Police Department is investigating a non-fatal shooting that occurred on 01/30/23 at about 10:10pm in the 4500 block of W. Fond Du Lac Ave. The 21-year-old Milwaukee man was conveyed to a local hospital and is in stable condition. The investigation is ongoing. Milwaukee Police continue to seek unknown suspects. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Milwaukee Police at (414) 935-7360, or to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at (414)224-Tips or P3 Tips.Capt. Warren E. Allen Jr.Milwaukee Police DepartmentNight Watch Commander749 W. State StreetMilwaukee, WI 53233414-935-7313/ at aboutThe City of Milwaukee is subject to Wisconsin Statutes related to public records. Unless otherwise exempted from the public records law, senders and receivers of City of Milwaukee e-mail should presume that e-mail is subject to release upon request, and is subject to state records retention requirements. See City of Milwaukee full e-mail disclaimer at www.milwaukee.gov/email_disclaimer

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Speaker Robin Vos & Gov Evers Discuss Wisconsin Flat Tax Proposal

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s governor says he will 100% veto a flat tax, and the top Republican in the State Assembly says he knows that.

Both Gov. Tony Evers and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos talked about the proposal to take Wisconsin to a 3.25% flat income tax during appearances on TV over the weekend.

The governor was on Capital City Sunday in Madison. He once again vowed to kill the flat tax proposal.

”The flat tax proposal, where it’s going to be equal across all parts of Wisconsin, is not in my bailiwick,” Evers said during the interview,

Evers has made it clear in the past that he doesn’t support the Republican’s flat tax proposal, but he said for the first time over the weekend that he may “possibly” veto the entire state budget to stop it from happening.

“[The flat tax] is a death nail for me,” the governor added. “I think our progressive tax system is a good one. And we don’t need to be spending our time and effort to provide the wealthiest of Wisconsinites with an extraordinarily large tax cut.”

Meanwhile Vos was on UPFRONT on Milwaukee TV, talking about the flat tax as well.

“I think we need to have significant tax reform to be able to make sure that Wisconsin remains competitive,” Vos said.

Vos said that may or may not include a 3.25% flat tax.

“That would be my preference. But again, I understand that Gov. Evers has concerns with that,” Vos added. “The most important thing for us to do, is we have to make big efforts toward reducing our tax burden. A flat tax would be ideal. But if we can’t get to ideal, there are other ways to get there.”

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, who introduced the flat tax proposal this month, has said the flat tax proposal currently up for debate may not be the final plan that reaches the governor’s desk.

Gov. Evers will deliver his budget speech next month, and the Republican-controlled legislature will then write the state’s new two-year spending plan.

Evers said on Capital City Sunday that his ideas, even in a Republican budget, “never go away.”

In addition to tax reform, this year’s budget will likely include something new on shared revenue of local governments, school funding, and other plans on how to spend or return Wisconsin’s record $7.1 billion surplus to taxpayers.

Milwaukee Police News

Milwaukee Police Breaking News – Fri, 27 Jan 2023

Milwaukee Police are investigating a non-fatal shooting that occurred on Thursday, January 26, 2023, at approximately 5:54 pm, on the 400 block of W. Center Street. The victim, a 18-year-old Milwaukee
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New Marquette Law School Poll: Trump, Biden Would Tie in 2024 Match-up

(The Center Square) – While Joe Biden and Donald Trump remain very popular with their respective bases, nearly half of voters in their own parties don’t want them to run for president again.

The latest Marquette Law School Poll, released Thursday, shows that 48% of registered Republicans don’t want Trump on the ticket next year. Among Democrats, the poll says 51% of voters don’t want to see Biden run for reelection.

“In the case of the former president and the current president, their parties are pretty divided over them as candidates even though the parties have pretty positive views of them individually,” MU lead pollster Charles Franklin said.

Trump is viewed favorably by 70% of Republican voters. Biden is viewed favorably by 83% of Democrats.

The poll also shows that Trump and Biden would tie in a 2024 head-to-head match-up.

“We see a tie between Biden and Trump, 40% for each of them,” Franklin explained. “That’s an improvement for Trump. In November Biden led 44-34, a 10-point lead.”

The new MU Poll did not ask about a head-to-head between Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, but those results may be different.

Republican voters told pollsters that they have an even more favorable view of DeSantis than Trump, with 71% of voters liking DeSantis compared to 70% for Trump.

Biden is the most popular Democrat with the support of 83% of Democrats, Bernie Sanders is second at 75%. Interestingly, the poll says Vice President Kamala Harris is the third most popular Democrat with a 67% favorability rating, while also being the most unpopular Democrat with a 23% unfavorable rating according to the poll.

The most unpopular Republican, according to the poll, is former Vice President Mike Pence. Thirty-three percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of him, compared to the 28% unfavorable rating for Trump.

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