Earlier this week, our colleague Guy Benson covered the hyper-partisan nature of the attacks on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as election day approaches, and in particular, the role played by John Chisolm. His efforts to tear down Walker are quickly becoming the stuff of legend.
A longtime Chisholm subordinate reveals for the first time in this article that the district attorney may have had personal motivations for his investigation. Chisholm told him and others that Chisholm’s wife, Colleen, a teacher’s union shop steward at St. Francis high school, a public school near Milwaukee, had been repeatedly moved to tears by Walker’s anti-union policies in 2011, according to the former staff prosecutor in Chisholm’s office. Chisholm said in the presence of the former prosecutor that his wife “frequently cried when discussing the topic of the union disbanding and the effect it would have on the people involved … She took it personally.”
After news broke about this witch hunt, Chisholm didn’t take it well at all. Apparently there was a massive hunt to find out who in the circle of those in the know had been talking out of school. As Legal Newsline reports, Chisholm’s people were leaving no stone unturned to identify the culprit.
After missing a scoop on Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm’s long-running investigation into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writers, along with the district attorney’s staff, hunted down the key source who had asked for anonymity, fearing retaliation…
AMI’s confidential source was a former prosecutor in Chisholm’s office who feared his reputation and his law practice would suffer if he were unmasked.
The district attorney’s staff launched a Nixon-style “mole hunt” to find the anonymous source, a Journal Sentinel columnist said, and was annoyed that the description of the confidential source wasn’t precise enough to identify him. The staff developed a list of roughly a dozen suspects, the columnist said. The Journal Sentinel never reported this secret search.
They found their guy, in the person of Michael Lutz, a decorated and disabled-in-the-line-of-duty police officer who worked with John Chisholm, first as a police officer and later in the district attorney’s office. One “journalist” at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel got rather personal in rooting out the source.
The feared retaliation was not long in coming. The Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice, whose “political watchdog” column is titled “No Quarter,” appeared after dark at the source’s home on Sept. 11. Bice’s persistent door-bell ringing and heavy knocks awakened and frightened the source’s sleeping 12-year-old daughter, he said. The noise was so loud that a neighbor came out to investigate the din, he said.
When the source, a decorated and disabled-in-the-line-of-duty police officer, Michael Lutz, came to the door, he opened it a crack to hear Bice demand to know if he was the person quoted in the story. He did not deny it and speaks exclusively on the record in this story for the first time.
Lutz states that he only came forward under protection as an anonymous source because Chisholm had demonstrated what he called a “hyper-partisan” bias against Walker. Since leaving the police force he had obtained his law degree and gone into private practice. The retaliation he feared was that the influence of Chisholm and his allies could affect his new career.
He was right.
“I have relocated my kids to prevent them from being brought to tears by any more J-S reporters and to protect them from the onslaught that has already begun. All for telling the truth.”
The consequences for telling that truth are already being felt, Lutz writes. “My law practice … is over in MKE [Milwaukee]. There is no doubt, as one person has put it, that I am already blacklisted. . . . . Supporting the family will be difficult. Of course, it has been a huge undertaking to go through 4 surgeries, take care of 2 children, drive back and forth to Madison daily in order to get my law license … only to be persecuted for simply telling the truth.”
Plenty of people covering this story already suspected that there was more than a little dirty pool taking place. But even the most jaded might be surprised to discover that members of the press were apparently working in league with Chisholm’s office to ruin the career of a dedicated servant of both the public and the DA. We all know that politics isn’t softball, but surely this is crossing a very bright red line. It also exposes the rather dirty nature of liberal Wisconsin politics and the media there who seem to be not only their willing surrogates, but their foot soldiers in the field.
Here’s to hoping that Mr. Lutz can make a fresh start and earn a good living for himself. He’s clearly done his part to serve the public.