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Happ hiding behind the OLR

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Waukesha Freeman 10/16/2014 Page A5 Opinion

Happ hiding behind the OLR

State office provides cover in land deal

So the Office of Lawyer Regulation leapt to Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ’s defense. Investigations by the OLR usually progress in geologic time. But they issued a response to the complaint by the alleged victim in the Reynolds case, stating Happ was “timely screened from the case.”

Happ, the Democratic nominee for state attorney general, was in a $180,000 land deal with Daniel Reynolds when his sexual molestation case was referred to her office. Instead of referring the case to a special prosecutor, Happ assigned the case to a subordinate despite the substantial personal conflict of interest.

The case was unearthed by the conservative organization Media Trackers. After the case became controversial, the victim in the case claims she was contacted by the victims aide person in Happ’s office to keep quiet about the case. Media Trackers has verified that a call was made to the victim. The criminal justice specialists had to deal with the case.

After the complaint was filed, disgraced former state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager defended Happ by attacking the timing and motive of the victim. But contrary to Lautenschlager’s conspiracy theory, the victim in the Reynolds case is a recall petition signer and not a partisan Republican.

Despite Happ’s conduct in the matter, Democrats have been reluctant to criticize her. Now the OLR, with startling speed, has given them some cover, despite Happ’s conduct to try to make the case go away.

Making the whole matter even more disturbing, RightWisconsin reports the intake investigator, Cathe Hahn, appears to have signed the Walker recall. A reasonable person might wonder if the victim in the Reynolds case will ever be given justice.

Regardless of the investigation’s conclusion, Happ’s conduct in regard to the Reynolds case was disgraceful. The victim in the case deserved better, and the whole case and the aftermath should disqualify Happ from holding future office.

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During the first gubernatorial debate last Friday, the candidates were asked another version of the trite question, say something nice about your opponent. Governor Scott Walker went first and praised Burke for her philanthropy.

When it was Burke’s turn there was an embarrassing five-second pause despite having time during Walker’s response to think of an answer.

Did Burke’s handlers not prepare her for the question? Is the Democratic Party so full of hate and bile that, despite the strong possibility the question would be asked, they still could not think of an answer to add to Burke’s script?

Burke finally remembered something she saw on television and praised Walker for his efforts to help victims of domestic violence. It was an ironic answer since it was revealed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and since reported elsewhere that Burke has a person in her ad, Erin Forrest, who once pleaded guilty to domestic abuse.

This is the same campaign that struggled to distance itself from the statement by Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who told an audience Walker was “showing women the back of his hand.” The best Burke campaign could muster was a tepid, “That’s not the type of language that Mary Burke would use.”

So we have Walker who helps victims of domestic abuse, and we have Burke who is endorsed in one of her ads by a person who committed domestic abuse. We also have a Democratic Party chairman that liked to use domestic abuse metaphors when discussing Republicans.

I guess it’s more important to hate Republicans than it is to be serious about domestic abuse.

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In the small world that is Wisconsin politics, Forrest’s case was prosecuted in Jefferson County by Susan Happ’s office. In addition, Lautenschlager was Forrest’s attorney.

Happ was quick to distance herself from the controversy. Her spokesman said Happ did not handle the case.

You might recall that when former Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski was given a sweetheart deal in Jefferson County after being arrested for three-time drunk driving, Happ’s office said she did not handle that case, too.

Which begs the question: What does Happ do all day?

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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