Kratz case disputed in first A.G. debate - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Kratz case disputed in first A.G. debate


MILWAUKEE (WKOW) -- A first debate between republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and democratic challenger Scott Hassett involved more questioning of the state department of justice's handling of disgraced, former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz.

Kratz resigned Monday in the wake of sending sexually-charged text messages to a domestic abuse victim, and being accused of impropriety by other women.

During the debate at Marquette University Law School,  Hassett said Van Hollen missed an opportunity to have Kratz possibly resign months ago when Van Hollen failed to inform Governor Doyle of Kratz's conduct.   Doyle has seldom-used executive power to remove a district attorney from office, and invoked that power when Kratz's actions recently became public.   Doyle's removal process stopped when Kratz resigned.

Van Hollen said he was not in a position legally to identify a Calumet County resident last year to formally complain about Kratz's racy text messages, a prerequisite for Doyle's formal involvement.

"He could have told the governor about what was going on,"   Hassett told WKOW27 News.

Hassett also said Van Hollen failed to contact the Office of Lawyer Regulation about Kratz's abuse of his professional position.

"They allowed him to self report.   If you looked at the document he turned in, it is very self serving."

"This wasn't a sugar-coated self-report to OLR,"  Van Hollen responded.

Van Hollen said OLR officials had copies of the more than two dozen text messages and their sexual content, but did nothing.   OLR officials initiated an investigation recently, citing additional new information involving Kratz's actions.

Van Hollen told WKOW27 News DOJ officials are also looking at new information to decide if Kratz broke any laws.   DOJ officials declined to prosecute Kratz last year when presented with Kratz's text messages to the victim.

Van Hollen questioned Hassett's credentials and experience, citing Hassett's lack of any time as a prosecutor, and Hassett's return to a law practice last year without required education hours.

"I would expect Mr. Hassett to get the specified number of credits that the law requires him to do."

Hassett said his education credit shortage was the result of faulty guidance from state officials to a half dozen returning attorneys, and said his license to practice is intact and active.

Hassett said his twenty two years of legal experience and management of prosecutorial matters as former secretary of the department of natural resources give him extensive insight into that function of DOJ.

Online reporting by Tony Galli.


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