MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former Wisconsin prisons director accuses Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel of driving him to the edge of suicide in a new book released Friday, extending a long-running feud between him, Walker’s office and the state Department of Justice.
Former Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Wall also takes Walker to task in his book, “Unethical: Life in Scott Walker’s Cabinet and the Dirty Side of Politics,” for aligning himself with President Donald Trump. Wall claims Walker told him that Trump would destroy the Republican Party.
Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg called Wall’s allegations baseless. Schimel said Wall’s accusations are inaccurate and he hopes Wall gets help.
The book’s release comes as Walker faces re-election in November. Wall has endorsed Democratic candidate Tony Evers.
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Walker appointed Wall to lead the state Corrections Department in 2012. He resigned in 2016 amid allegations of widespread abuse at the state’s youth prison. The state Department of Justice launched an investigation but the FBI has since taken over the probe.
State law permitted Wall to return to his previous job as administrator of the Justice Department’s Division of Criminal Investigation. Agency officials gave him his job back but quickly demoted him and placed him on administrative leave.
Schimel fired him in April 2016, after he sent a letter to Walker’s chief-of-staff at the time, Rich Zipperer, asking for help getting his administrator job back. Wall noted in the letter that the administration was concerned about creating public records and told Zipperer to feel free to shred the document. Schimel said he couldn’t trust an employee who encouraged others to break the law.
Wall has since landed a job with a New Hampshire cybersecurity firm but remains bitter about how he believes he was treated. He said in November that he would write a tell-all book.
In the book, Wall writes that he told the Justice Department about problems at the youth prison but the agency dragged its feet. Zipperer told him it would take a lawsuit to make Walker’s administration care about problems at the youth prison, he wrote.
He goes on about how Walker looked “small and insignificant” during his presidential bid. Two days after Walker got out of the race, Wall said the exhausted governor confided to him that he feared Trump would destroy the Republican Party.
“I respected his apparent position of principle, but that was washed away when, as the months went by, I watched him prostitute himself to the same bully that had wasted no time in ripping his dignity away in front of the nation,” Wall wrote.
Wall said he wrote the letter out of “sheer desperation” created by Walker, Zipperer, Justice Department Senior Counsel Paul Connell and Schimel. He accused Schimel of “intentionally twisting my desperate pleas for help” into allegations of violating the law.
Wall said he later drove to his cabin alone and put his gun in his mouth.
“Sobbing uncontrollably, I stared at that gun and felt only anger,” Wall wrote. “I wanted Walker, Zipperer, Schimel, and Connell to know how badly they had hurt me and my family. I wanted their dishonesty, their deceit, their injustice, their unethical actions, to burn in their souls for the rest of their lives.”
Wall said all that stopped him was the thought of his wife and children, and the memory of Craig Klyve, a Justice Department administrator who killed himself in the parking ramp of the agency’s Madison headquarters in 2009.
Hasenberg, Walker’s spokeswoman, characterized Wall’s allegations as coming from a disgruntled former employee.
“These are false attacks being made by someone who was fired from the Department of Justice for asking a state employee to break the law,” she said.
Schimel said Friday that he had to fire Wall because “his efforts to circumvent public records law was (sic) egregious.” He said Wall was in the best position to protect inmates at the youth prison.
“I hope Mr. Wall continues to receive the help and care he may need,” Schimel said.
Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1