MADISON — A state senator running for U.S. Senate said Tuesday someone should go to jail for an ethics investigation by the former Government Accountability Board that involved the review of her private emails and resulted in no charges.
Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, said many people should be held accountable for her emails being obtained by Milwaukee County investigators and passed on to the GAB’s ethics investigators, including Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat.
“I believe some of the things that were done, people should go to jail for this,” Vukmir said Tuesday at a Wispolitics.com luncheon.
But when asked whether retired Judge Neal Nettesheim, who oversaw and approved warrants in the Milwaukee County investigation, or Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, who first revealed two weeks ago that Vukmir had been investigated, should be held accountable Vukmir said she’s looking at all of her legal options and was “really not at liberty to talk about it.”
Asked why her anger has been directed at the GAB, which authorized the investigation in December 2011 and closed it in March 2013 with no charges filed, Vukmir said it was because her private emails with her daughter, some containing medical information, were found in an electronic folder marked “opposition research,” a term that refers to dirt collected on political opponents.
“That’s not careless, that’s showing intent,” Vukmir said. “Personal emails between my daughter and me. That’s just beyond the pale. It’s wrong.”
Chisholm did not respond to a request for comment. John Doe and ethics investigators are prohibited by state law from discussing their investigations. Vukmir also backed a call by Senate and Assembly Republican leadership to oust the current heads of the state ethics and elections commissions, and she agreed nine individuals recommended by Attorney General Brad Schimel for contempt of court proceedings should be held accountable. She didn’t rule out a civil lawsuit could be filed.
“I’m not going to leave any stone left unturned,” Vukmir said. “Government should not be overreaching into our lives.”
The Wisconsin State Journal reported Sunday that Schimel was the first to reveal that Vukmir had been investigated by the state’s former ethics agency as part of a previously unknown ethics investigation into whether Republican state employees were campaigning on taxpayer-funded time. A judge who authorized the release of Schimel’s report said Monday that he shouldn’t have done so because state law requires that subjects of state investigations that don’t result in charges should have their confidentiality maintained.
The ethics investigation was authorized by the Government Accountability Board’s six-member panel of retired judges in December 2011 and closed in March 2013 with no charges recommended. The emails were obtained by warrant as part of the John Doe I investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s Milwaukee County office — which investigators sought to expand 18 times based on evidence collected.
Schimel issued a report two weeks ago that identified Vukmir as one of 35 people who had their private emails obtained as part of that investigation. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office forwarded those emails to the GAB as part of its ethics investigation.