MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Attorney General Brad Schimel recommended four other people, including one of his own campaign workers, for an open judgeship that Gov. Scott Walker gave him after he lost re-election, newly released records show.
Walker handed Schimel the job on Nov. 20, a day after the Republican attorney general conceded defeat to Democrat Josh Kaul. Schimel replaces Judge Patrick Haughney, who officially resigned on Election Day after announcing earlier this year he would step down.
The governor’s office released application documents for the position to media outlets Friday evening. Walker attorney Nick Korger indicated in a cover letter that 14 people applied for the position. The records include application materials for only 13 candidates, however. Schimel’s materials were missing, raising questions about whether he formally applied for the post.
Korger and Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg didn’t immediately reply to emails Monday asking if Schimel applied. State Justice Department spokeswoman Rebecca Ballweg and Schimel campaign manager Johnny Koremenos also didn’t immediately respond to emails.
Four candidates included recommendation letters from Schimel in their application packets, including state Department of Administration Division of Gaming Administrator Jack Melvin.
Melvin noted in his application he was working as Schimel’s Waukesha County campaign coordinator. Schimel misidentifies Melvin in his recommendation letter as Matthew Fernholz, another candidate for the judgeship, but goes on to say he has the temperament and work ethic to be an excellent judge.
David Maas, an assistant attorney general, also included a letter of recommendation from Schimel in his materials. Schimel wrote that Maas was a mentor to him when he was a Waukesha County prosecutor and has a “strong legal intellect.”
Private attorney Sarah Ponath included a Schimel letter in her packet, too. Schimel wrote in that note that he met her when she was serving as a special prosecutor in the Waukesha County district attorney’s office and he had known her for more than a decade.
Fernholz, who clerked for former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman before joining the Waukesha law firm Cramer, Multhauf & Hammes, included a Schimel recommendation letter as well. Schimel wrote that he has known Fernholz for four years and called him a “bright and talented attorney.”
Melvin, Maas and Schimel were among six finalists for the position, the records show.
The others were Paul Dedinsky, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s chief lawyer; Waukesha County Court Commissioner Sarah Scullen and Assistant Attorney General Katherine Spitz. None of their materials included any recommendation letters from Schimel.
Other applicants included commercial litigation attorney Terry Booth; Ronald Sonderhouse, a partner in Waukesha law firm Wolff and Sonderhouse; and Waukesha County Corporation Counsel Eric Weidig.
The governor’s office didn’t release application materials for the remaining three candidates, saying they had requested confidentiality.