submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Pete Christianson
At the October 24 meeting of the Rotary Club of Madison, Democratic candidate Josh Kaul for the office of Wisconsin attorney general summed up his vision for the state’s highest judicial office by asserting that he would operate as an independent force “standing up for the rights of Wisconsinites” and working to make Wisconsin “stronger and safer.”
Citing his Wisconsin roots of growing up in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac and highlighting his Stanford law degree along with his experience as a federal prosecutor serving in Baltimore, Kaul made the case to be the right person for the job. He outlined various positions related to voting rights, the opioid epidemic, the Affordable Care Act, high incarceration rates of African-American citizens, school safety and the recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh as US Supreme Court Justice.
In discussing voting rights, Kaul painted himself a champion based on his record of actively challenging any attempts to restrict voting including in Wisconsin. He also addressed the gerrymandering issue in Wisconsin that reached the U.S. Supreme Court by supporting the idea of a non-partisan redistricting model.
On the topic of the opioid crisis, Kaul pledged to follow a four-point agenda, encompassing enforcement of laws with large-scale traffickers, expanding access to substance abuse treatment, holding pharmaceutical companies accountable, and expanding Medicaid to afford greater treatment options under Badger Care. Asked whether he had accepted any campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry, Kaul answered that he had not and also had made the pledge not to accept any funds from the National Rifle Association.
Kaul pledged to withdraw Wisconsin from current and future lawsuits seeking to repeal or invalidate the Affordable Care Act, and he especially stressed the need to grant medical coverage to those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Kaul addressed the high incarceration rate of the African-American population by advocating for community policing and community prosecution, pointing to such successful efforts in Milwaukee.
In terms of school safety, Kaul emphatically declared that more common sense is needed than is evident in his opponent’s ideas to arm teachers with guns. He singled out his opponent for “criticizing gun-free school zones.”
In drawing yet another distinction between him and his opponent, Kaul said he had opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation even prior to the sexual harassment charges against him became public. “The Court is going too far to the right,” he said. “The process was not a good one.” He was especially critical of his opponent’s statement that the allegation of sexual harassment 36 years ago should not disqualify Kavanaugh.
The greatest criticism of his opponent has been the massive backlog of rape kits not being tested in an effort to bring justice to victims and lock up potential sex offenders representing further danger to public safety. Kaul said the “delay in getting justice” was a blatant example of his opponent’s misplaced priorities.
While Attorney General Brad Schimel was invited to appear jointly or on a separate date, his campaign office declined our invitation. Per our board policy, we offered Schimel’s office to have his campaign materials at our meeting on October 24th, and our thanks to Nancy Bartlett for attending and staffing the table.
Our thanks also to WisEye for videotaping our meeting this week. Watch the video here.