Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's former corrections secretary, Ed Wall, is endorsing Democratic candidate Tony Evers in the race for governor.
Wall, appointed by Walker in 2012, resigned from his post shortly after it was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had taken over an investigation into abuse at the state's youth prison in 2016. He was fired from a position at the Department of Justice months later. Wall plans to release a tell-all book that he says will detail the alleged mishandling of the investigation by the state Department of Justice.
In a statement, Wall said he is endorsing the state Superintendent of Public Instruction because "we need a Governor who is a true leader — an adult in the room, who unlike Scott Walker, will put Wisconsin before his own political ambitions."
A digital ad released by the Evers campaign on Thursday features headlines detailing the allegations of inmate abuse and unsafe working conditions at Lincoln Hills.
Wall says in the ad that he went to Walker's chief of staff with concerns about the facility, but was told the governor was having a hard time raising campaign funds with negative headlines in the news. He also says he gave Walker several plans to fix the situation, but that Walker "didn't want to deal with it," and that cabinet secretaries were encouraged not to create written records.
"I thought Scott Walker would help me protect kids, but I was wrong," Wall says in the ad.
A spokesman for the Walker campaign referred questions to the state Republican Party.
"Ed Wall was fired after evading Wisconsin's open record laws and secretly lobbying for a new job, so it's not surprising that he's running to the defense of a bureaucrat who chooses politics over helping those he's charged with serving," said RPW spokesman Alec Zimmerman in an email. "Andrew Harris, a teacher caught harassing both students and teachers and watching pornography in the classroom, remains on the job because of Evers’ failure to act — why should he be trusted with our prison system if he hasn't shown leadership in our schools?"
Zimmerman was referring to a 2009 case, in which the Department of Public Instructoin and Evers did not revoke the license of Middleton-Cross Plains middle school science teacher Andrew Harris after he viewed sexually explicit images on his school computer. Harris was rehired by the district in 2014 and teaches science at Kromrey Middle School.
According to a letter sent to Harris by DPI, while his conduct was "highly inappropriate for an educator," it did not meet the definition of "immoral conduct" under the state law that applied at the time of his behavior, which occurred in 2008 and 2009. In 2011, lawmakers and Evers worked to add viewing pornography on a school computer to the classification of immoral conduct.
Attorney General Brad Schimel has previously called Wall's criticisms "a sad attempt to retaliate" and to "distract from his failure as secretary of the Department of Corrections."
In an appeal of his firing from DOJ, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission ruled that Wall knowingly attempted to evade the state's open records law in his DOJ position as he sought to lobby Walker's chief of staff to allow him to return to a job as administrator of the state Division of Criminal Investigation.