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HomeBreaking NewsWaukesha County DA Candidate Lesli Boese Slams Mike Thurston Over Chisholm Donations

Waukesha County DA Candidate Lesli Boese Slams Mike Thurston Over Chisholm Donations


“To say my opponent’s donations are a concern would be an understatement. Thurston donated more to John Chisholm than Darrell Brooks’ bail was set at – that speaks volumes” -prosecutor Lesli Boese.

Waukesha County DA candidate Lesli Boese is slamming DA candidate Mike Thurston for his repeated donations to Democratic Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, saying that Thurston “donated more to John Chisholm than Darrell Brooks’ bail was set at.”

In a previous interview with Wisconsin Right Now, Thurston stated that he doesn’t recall making four of the five donations to the controversial Democratic DA, although they are documented in campaign finance reports.

He defended the donation he does recall, in 2016, by saying that the candidate Chisholm was running against then, Verona Swanigan, was the “far worse” candidate in the race. However, Swanigan was the candidate heavily backed by conservatives (like Dick Uihlein and Eric O’Keefe) in that race. They were upset about Chisholm’s later-discredited John Doe prosecution of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his associates. Chisholm even slammed her “right-wing backers” during the campaign.

“The fact that Thurston’s donations are getting so much attention is solely the result of the concern Waukesha County residents have about the possibility of a prosecutor like Chisholm becoming the next DA in Waukesha County,” Boese wrote in a June 3 news release. “John Chisholm’s policies don’t work in Milwaukee, and as a result crime is spilling over into Waukesha County. The Waukesha Christmas Parade case is just one tragic example of this.” Boese, a prosecutor, co-chaired the Waukesha Christmas parade prosecution.

Boese and Thurston, both prosecutors in the Waukesha County DA’s office, are squaring off in an August primary. Both are running as Republicans; he referred to himself as a “moderate Republican” in an email to Wisconsin Right Now. Current DA Sue Opper is retiring. Thurston has received a number of prominent law enforcement endorsements in the race.

Boese’s comments come after Aaron Sparks, the father of Jackson Sparks, the youth baseball player who was murdered by Brooks, raised concerns about Thurston’s Chisholm donations in social media posts. Thurston donated to Chisholm five times in five different years: 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2014.

Sparks shared the WRN story on Thurston’s Chisholm donations and wrote, “I’m not usually someone who will post anything political. But as a father and family so intimately affected by the Waukesha Christmas Parade Attack, it’s a subject always on my mind and close to my heart. Why was Brooks out on such a low bail in the first place? Wait… he tried to run over his girlfriend just a few weeks prior to the attack? How would someone like this get such low bail? How could this happen?”

He added, “That is how Milwaukee County handles these cases. Loose. Soft on crime. I don’t want this leniency to happen in our home here in Waukesha County. I think we all need to get out and vote this August and make sure we don’t let someone with Milwaukee County stance on crime and bail to be the DA in Waukesha County. Otherwise, this all happens again, to another one of our families. And speaking from experience… I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy,”

In a Facebook comment, Sparks wrote, “I’d be curious to Thurston’s stance on Chishom’s team’s handling of Brooks and his bail. All we know is he has contributed to Chisholm’s campaign many times. So, he is clearly a big supporter of Chisholm. You don’t contribute to a campaign so many times if you don’t support it, right?”

You can read Thurston’s explanation for his donations in full here. WRN reached out for comment from Thurston on Boese’s press release and Sparks’ comments but did not receive a response.

Waukesha county da

Thurston, who is running on a tough-on-crime platform, has a section on bail reform on his website. “Shockingly, our Wisconsin Constitution and our bail statutes currently prohibit sitting judges and court commissioners from considering the dangerousness of a defendant when deciding how much cash bail he should be released on. As far back as September of 2017, I am proud of my work with State Representative Cindy Duchow for her determined efforts to pass common-sense bail reform,” he wrote.

“Waukesha County residents have seen how soft-on-crime policies are failing Milwaukee, and they expect us to hold people accountable for their actions in order to keep our community safe,” Boese wrote in the June 3 release.

Lesli boese
Lesli boese

Asked by WRN why Swanigan, the conservative choice in the 2016 race, was the worst candidate, Thurston declined to answer. He also previously declined to answer when WRN asked for his position on Chisholm’s John Doe probe, which enraged prominent conservatives all over the state. The John Doe was sort of a precursor to the Democrats’ lawfare against President Donald Trump.

Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the second sweeping criminal John Doe probe into conservatives in 2012 after an earlier investigation into Walker’s county executive office. It targeted many prominent conservatives in his network and the state. The state Supreme Court put a stop to it in 2015 after a judge found the Walker network was being pursued for something not a crime. Thurston’s largest donation to Chisholm came just one year after that.

Mike thurston waukesha da
Mike thurston, waukesha da candidate, and milwaukee da john chisholm.

“Mike Thurston donated $2,300 dollars to Milwaukee DA John Chisholm from 2014-2020. His explanation for the donations was that Chisholm’s opponent would have been a worse alternative. However, during the time Thurston made donations to Chisholm’s campaign, only one donation was made in a year Chisholm had an opponent,” Boese wrote.

“People donate to causes they believe in. Thurston has made donations to not only Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm’s campaign over the years, but to other democratic candidates in other states as well,” Boese added.

“It’s also concerning that all but one of Thurston’s donations to John Chisholm were made while he was not only living in Waukesha County, but also was working in the Waukesha County DA’s office. It would not take anyone longer than a couple of weeks as a prosecutor or resident in Waukesha County to see how Chisholm’s soft on crime policies directly impact Waukesha County,” she added.

“The residents of Waukesha County have voiced their concern with soft-on-crime policies loud and clear. With Mike Thurston as DA, this would become reality for Waukesha,” she added.

“I am committed to holding criminals accountable, providing victims a greater voice, and collaborating with our law enforcement agencies. As your DA, I will work to ensure Waukesha County remains a safe place to live, work, and raise a family,” Boese said.


Jessica McBride
Jessica's opinions on this website and all WRN and personal social media pages, including Facebook and X, represent her own opinions and not those of the institution where she works. Jessica McBride, a Wisconsin Right Now contributor, is a national award-winning journalist and journalism educator with more than 25 years in journalism. Jessica McBride’s journalism career started at the Waukesha Freeman newspaper in 1993, covering City Hall. She was an investigative, crime, and general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a decade. Since 2004, she has taught journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in many news outlets, including (where she is a contributor reaching millions of readers per month),, WTMJ, WISN, WUWM,,, Milwaukee Magazine, Nightline, El Conquistador Latino Newspaper, Japanese and German television, Channel 58, Reader’s Digest, Twist (magazine), Wisconsin Public Radio, BBC, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, and others. 

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