Governor Jim Doyle announced Wednesday he has received a verified complaint against Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz from a County resident, and he is moving forward with the removal process.More >>
MADISON (WKOW) -- For months the accusations were known only to a small group of investigators, accusations about a well-known prosecutor who used his office to troll for dates.
But now, after the lurid details finally came to light, a small-town scandal has become a national embarrassment for the Badger State.
"What is going on with the Department of Justice?" George Stephanopolis, host of Good Morning America, asked Gov. Jim Doyle on Tuesday.
With three women now coming forward, questions are being asked how Kratz's behavior stayed quiet for so long. Some are pointing fingers at the Office of Lawyer Regulation, an agency so obscure even the governor doesn't know its correct name.
"There was a report, apparently, made to the Office of Lawyer Responsibility, in which they closed it out without doing anything," Doyle said.
In a document posted on its web site the office says, "If a lawyer engages in unethical conduct, it is our responsibility to do something about it."
So what did the office do when shown evidence of 30 sexually-charged text messages from Kratz to a 26-year-old domestic abuse victim, texts that Kratz himself describes as inappropriate?
On March 5, an investigator with OLR, Cynthia Schally, wrote "Although District Attorney Kratz's communication with you was inappropriate, it did not appear to involve possible professional misconduct."
Terry Rose, a member of the OLR oversight committee, says he's only vaguely aware of the Kratz case. But when given the details he said it was a good question why the matter was dismissed.
Meanwhile, the director of OLR is out of town all week, and the deputy director said he would not come on camera because he didn't want to be "the face" of OLR.
Doyle also complained that the Crime Victims Rights Board was never notified.
"They can investigate complaints against district attorneys who violate crime victims rights and can sanction and fine them," he said. "And apparently this case was never referred to that board in any way for any sort of action."
But he failed to mention that Kratz was the board's chairman for years before resigning under pressure from the attorney general's office. All of which may be taking a toll on the state's ability to fight crime.
"The system really depends on people trusting D.A.s and how devastating it is when the D.A. violates the trust of a victim," Howard Schweber, a UW political science professor, said.
Meanwhile, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says the OLR mishandled the original complaint against Kratz.
In a letter released today from Van Hollen to OLR director Keith Sellen, he says, "specifically, (the woman) did not believe it was proper for District Attorney Kratz to send her, the victim of domestic assault being prosecuted by Kratz, a series of sexually suggestive text messages."
Van Hollen says the letter should have been forwarded for a formal investigation by the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Instead, the office responded to the woman saying, "I note that the investigation conducted by the Department of Justice regarding this incident was closed."
Van Hollen says that comment gives the "false impression" that the Office of Lawyer Regulation and the Department of Justice have overlapping authority to enforce the Rules of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers and impose discipline when they are violated, which Van Hollen says is "simply not true."
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