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Former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager has died

MADISON, Wis. - Former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager has died at age 62.

Her husband Bill Rippl said she died early Saturday surrounded by family at their home in Fond du Lac. She had been diagnosed with cancer, according to AP.

Lautenschlager was born and raised in Fond du Lac.

She served as district attorney in Winnebago County, a Democratic state representative and a U.S. attorney in Madison before she was elected as the first female attorney general  in Wisconsin history in 2002. 

Lautenschlager held the position from 2003 to 2007 and battled cancer while in office. 

She was defeated in a primary in 2006, two years after being cited for drunken driving after she drove her state car into a ditch.

In 2016, she was appointed as the first commissioner of the newly formed Ethics Commission, from which she later resigned. Her career spanned more than 30 years.

Saturday, officials across the state reacted to the news of her death.

“Today we say farewell today to one of Wisconsin’s most dedicated grassroots progressives, for whom no work was too small or too big in her fight for justice, fairness and opportunity for all Wisconsinites. With great intellect, humor and compassion, Peg Lautenschlager served her neighbors, her home community of Fond du Lac and all of our state as our first woman to be elected Attorney General,” Martha Laning, Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair, said in the release.

“Last fall I was honored to present Peg with a lifetime achievement award for all the numerous ways she has served the people of our state--from her start as an attorney combating domestic abuse to her trailblazing roles in state government to her tireless advocacy for workers’ rights and government ethics, among so many other causes. Our theme for the October event where she received that award was 'imagination, integrity and courage,' as these are virtues Peg Lautenschlager exemplified her entire career. She will be so fondly remembered and deeply missed.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said in a separate press release, “It is with a heavy heart that I learned of the passing of Peg. She was a trailblazer for many women in Wisconsin politics, a loyal friend and true blue Democrat. Peg was a trusted political mentor to many and was always willing to lend her insight, advice and enthusiasm to friends and family across the state. 

“Peg served her community and state well, from her time as Winnebago District Attorney to her most recent position as Chair of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Peg loved good policy, better outcomes, great stories and spending time in the company of her many friends and family. My deepest condolences to her husband Bill and their children.”

Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement that he did not know Lautenschlager well, but many of his team members at the Wisconsin Department of Justice did.

"I appreciate her many decades of public service and commitment to Wisconsin. She hired many of the fine public servants who now work at DOJ on behalf of the people of Wisconsin and her dedication lives on through their daily work," Schimel said.

Governor Scott Walker described Lautenschlager as a "dedicated and passionate public servant" in a statement.

 

 

Brad Courtney, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said, "I’m saddened by the news of Peg Lautenschlager’s passing. While we may not have always agreed politically, Peg was a passionate advocate for Wisconsin during her 30 years serving our state." 

 


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