Van Hollen says scrutiny from media and partisans contributed to his "burn out" as Attorney General
MADISON (WKOW) -- In his final and most candid interview with 27 News as Wisconsin's Attorney General, J. B. Van Hollen spoke frankly about a number of issues Thursday, including what contributed to him experiencing "burn out" in the position and why he isn't concerned about his legacy.
Van Hollen chose not seek reelection after two terms as the state's top law enforcement officer and his last day in office will be January 4th. He said he tired of the scrutiny of the job during his second term, which increased after defending a number of controversial, highly-partisan pieces of legislation.
"This job didn't become any more partisan in my books, but it did in the minds of some people," said Van Hollen. "And whereas I could walk around in this town during my first term, and with very limited exceptions, people treated me with great respect because I was the Attorney General, I found myself being disparaged because I was the Republican Attorney General. That was unfortunate."
But Van Hollen said he has no regrets with his decision to uphold such controversial laws as Act 10, Voter ID and the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. On that last case, Van Hollen said doesn't worry about how historians will view his role in fighting to uphold the ban.
"I really don't, because I also believe that somewhere along the line my name will be associated with the fact that I defended the rule of law, regardless of the difficult circumstances in doing so, and I defended the constitution," said Van Hollen.
Van Hollen continues to defend the constitution even as he prepares to leave office, joining 23 other states in a lawsuit challenging President Obama's recent executive action on immigration.
"The President has, once again, clearly overstepped his legal bounds," said Van Hollen. "And that frequently affects the states but in this case in particular, by basically conferring a whole group of new rights upon individuals who didn't have these rights before, the fiscal impact on the State of Wisconsin is immense," said Van Hollen, who said the state would be responsible for providing drivers licenses and even concealed carry permits for immigrants who are not citizens.
Without question, Van Hollen said his biggest achievement was to increase protections to children from online child predators. He claims the thing he will miss the least about the job is dealing with the media.
"Many in the media will spend so much time disparaging you. They think they're Woodward and Bernstein all rolled into one and the only way that they can prove their worth is to point out how they think you're doing something wrong," said Van Hollen.
Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel (R) will be sworn in to replace Van Hollen as Wisconsin Attorney General on January 5th.
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