For the Record: Gov. Evers responds to opponents’ agency-splitting plans; Updates on early voting

FTR: Gov. Evers sits down for one-on-one; discusses opponents’ agency-splitting plans, gap in white and Black test scores

Following last week’s For the Record interview with GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels, Gov. Evers sat down with Naomi Kowles to discuss his opponents’ plan to break up the Department of Natural Resources and target other state agencies for review.

“I see no reason to split it,” Gov. Evers said, adding that any controversy came from one of the NRB’s Walker-appointed board members staying on long past his expired term. On state agencies, he said, “They’re doing the work of the people,” but added that there’s areas they can do better.

A national report found Wisconsin ranked at the top of the nation for scoring gaps between white and Black students. When asked why the state hadn’t been able to close that gap under his tenure, he cited money as one roadblock.

“Also, frankly, we need to also connect the dots. it’s not always the third grade teacher that’s at fault or the school district that’s at fault; it’s us as a nation or state that needs to come to grip with this issue.”

FTR: Defense attorney on Darrell Brooks’ trial, issues raised of ‘jury nullification’ 

After Darrell Brooks was found guilty this week of killing six and hurting dozens more at the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy last year, criminal defense attorney Chris Van Wagner discussed Brooks’ attempts to raise the idea of jury nullification in his closing statements. Jury nullification is the power juries have to not convict if they don’t agree with the law in a case — something that Wisconsin prevents defendants from explicitly arguing to a jury.

“What it is–is insanity. There’s nothing to say to a jury that people who have died because of these actions he engaged in somehow don’t matter. That’s essentially what he wanted to argue.”

An appeals lawyer will likely be appointed to review his case, Van Wagner said, who would review any evidence not raised during the trial. However, he added, any grounds for appeal would likely come down to a dispute over his intent or lack thereof just before the murders.

FTR: Early voting underway in Madison and across Wisconsin; clerk gives update on progress

Early in-person absentee voting kicked off this week in Wisconsin. Madison deputy clerk Jim Verbick said about 1,600 people were taking advantage of early voting per day, a slight uptick from past numbers but likely due to a drop in use of absentee ballot requests.

While threats of violence toward election clerks was an issue in 2020 both state and nationwide, Verbick said it’s been largely a non-issue so far for the Madison office headed into the midterm. However, they’ve gotten some “colorful” calls, he added.

“Our office have received some colorful responses from folks who have issues with ballot dropboxes, which we’re obviously not using in this election because they’re not allowed. They’ve asked if they could forcefully remove them themselves, and we’ve told them no: that is government property and you should leave that alone.”