Tuesday, May 9, 2017

AG Schimel minted gold-plated “Kick Ass” coins while the murder rate in Wisconsin climbed

As DOJ spent $50,000 on SWAG, murder rate across the state went up 41 percent

The priorities for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, under the leadership of Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, seem to be more about freebies to hand out rather than diminishing crime.

One Wisconsin Now recently revealed that in the past four years the DOJ “spent $50,000 that we know on swag for shameless self-promotion,” the group states. Two of those years have been under the tutelage of Schimel, while the other two included the last years of former Attorney General (and Republican) J.B. Van Hollen.

These commemorative items include coins that are handed out to law enforcement or other employees at DOJ, and include the initials KAED — for “Kick Ass Every Day.” The language is hardly the problematic issue here, however: Schimel spent $10,000 of taxpayer funds to mint the gold-plated coins, according to the Cap Times. Other items the DOJ has spent state money on include backpacks and travel tumblers.

The promotional items date back to fiscal year 2014, says One Wisconsin Now, but remember: fiscal years actually start in the year before their title suggests. So fiscal year 2014 actually started in July of 2013.

Since I had recently looked at crime stats, that year stood out to me. Sure enough, in 2013 Wisconsin’s murder rate was at 2.82 murders for every 100,000 citizens. In 2016, the state’s murder rate went up to 3.99 murders for every 100,000.

That amounts to a 41 percent increase in the murder rate between 2013 to 2016.

There’s something to be said about promoting morale among your workers. And certainly Schimel and the DOJ will try to justify these expenses as such.

But while these items were being purchased, using taxpayer dollars, the murder rate in the state went up in a drastic way. The priorities of Attorney General Brad Schimel shouldn’t focus on tote bags and fancy coins — they should focus on making the state a safer place to live.

Wisconsin deserves much better. In 2018, the voters should choose to remove Schimel from his post.

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