‘We have been delivering results’: Checking in with AG Josh Kaul ahead of a re-election year

MADISON, Wis. — Ahead of a re-election year, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul sat down with News 3 Now virtually this month to reflect on 2021, and look ahead to 2022.

Some questions and answered are shortened for clarity.

NEWS 3 NOW: You told the Associated Press you would not enforce an abortion ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime next year. If an Attorney General is able to choose what prosecutors focus on, do you have plans for District Attorneys to avoid prosecuting low-level crimes like marijuana possession?

KAUL: It would be a misuse of the DOJ’s resources to divert resources from those serious crimes that we currently investigate and prosecute to investigating and prosecuting violations of the abortion ban. As long as I’m attorney general we would not do that.

Investigating and prosecuting violations of the old abortion ban would actually be counter productive for public safety because it would put the health of women in Wisconsin at risk. So that would be an absolute misuse of our tax dollars. 

NEWS 3 NOW: In light of November’s Christmas parade tragedy in Waukesha, should bail reform be examined? And would you support tighter bail laws in Wisconsin?

KAUL: We need to make sure that nothing like what happened in Waukesha ever happens again. And one of the ways we can do that is by making sure that when somebody who has a lengthy criminal record is arrested for a serious offense and presents a danger to the community that they are simply detained prior to trial. 

READ MORE: Did domestic violence past, low cash bail lead to tragedy in Waukesha?

In the federal system, courts generally look at two factors whether somebody is a danger to the public and whether they’re a risk of flight. If they are, they’re simply detained prior to trial there’s no dollar amount that’s set that would allow them to potentially get out.

NEWS 3 NOW: A major focus of your time in office this year has been an investigation into abuse claims by Catholic clergy. Where are you at in this process?

KAUL: We’re gathering evidence so that we can get a comprehensive understanding of this issue in Wisconsin so that we can document that and provide recommendations.

NEWS 3 NOW: Are people coming forward in this investigation?

KAUL: We’ve been encouraged so far by the number of people who have reached out and contacted our office to make a report.

The fact that so many people reporting I think reflects that survivors view the reporting system as a safe and trusted place to report. That’s really important to us because we want to make sure that survivors do feel empowered to report.

NEWS 3 NOW: Earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Michael Gableman’s investigation into the 2020 Presidential election here in Wisconsin will continue into 2022. What would it take for you to take them seriously?

KAUL: There is nothing that can be done at this point that would make this investigation credible. We have seen incompetence in the way that this has been investigated that it’s clear that there is partisan bias. 

FROM OCTOBER: ‘Shut this fake investigation down’: Wisconsin attorney general calls for election probe to end

NEWS 3 NOW: As part of his mission to protect voting rights, Gov. Tony Evers joined other governors in asking the U.S. Senate to make sure legislation is passed at the federal level to protect voting rights. What can be done so everyone in Wisconsin can safely vote?

KAUL: [The passage of federal voting rights legislation] would help prevent against not only voter suppression efforts but also efforts to hijack the results of our elections.

NEWS 3 NOW: Looking ahead to 2022, it’s an election year for you. What’s your No. 1 campaign issue?

KAUL: At a time when there has been so much gridlock in politics, we have been delivering results for the people of Wisconsin and getting things accomplished. 

Wisconsin is now in line to recover about a half a billion dollars from pharmaceutical companies and opioid distributors to support efforts to fight the opioid epidemic in communities across the state. I’m proud of what we’ve been getting accomplished for Wisconsinites and I look forward to continuing to–to work to stand up for the best interest to the people of Wisconsin.

NEWS 3 NOW: Are you preparing for the possibility that things don’t go your and Gov. Evers’ way in 2022?

KAUL: Having had Gov. Evers as a partner has helped us in a number of different ways, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as we work to address some of the biggest challenges that our state is facing. 

Whether it is holding polluters accountable when they violate our environmental laws or protecting our democracy and reproductive freedom or any of the number of issues we worked on, we are going to continue working on those issues as long as I’m Attorney General at the Department of Justice.