A year after telling the public as a candidate he had obtained a bachelor’s degree, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said Thursday he hasn’t completed his degree at Alabama A&M University.
The Democrat revealed to the Isthmus newspaper that he completed coursework to resolve an incomplete class but never turned it in. He called it “a small technical thing.”
Barnes’ biography on Gov. Tony Evers’ website doesn’t claim that he graduated. Instead, it describes him as an alumnus, which may be someone who only attended a school.
However, in response to a Wisconsin State Journal candidate questionnaire last year when he was running in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, his campaign stated he had a “BA in Broadcast Journalism—Alabama A&M University.” A BA is a bachelor of arts degree.
Barnes, a former Milwaukee legislator, won the primary with 68% of the vote against Sheboygan businessman Kurt Kober.
Barnes spokesman Earl Arms said Thursday the questionnaire response was an error made by a former campaign staffer.
“The lieutenant governor regrets that oversight and is working to address any misconceptions that have come from it,” Arms said. “Lt. Gov. Barnes has always been transparent when asked about his graduation status. From his time as a state representative through now, Lt. Gov. Barnes has stated that he attended Alabama A&M, not graduated.”
Barnes also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel twice in a November interview that he “finished” college, and the paper reported he had graduated. Arms didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on that remark.
According to Isthmus, Barnes volunteered the information that he hadn’t yet obtained a degree, and told the newspaper he is working with Alabama A&M to finish requirements to graduate.
Alabama A&M spokesman Jerome Saintjones confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that Barnes was a student at the school from the fall of 2003 through the spring of 2008 but did not graduate. He said Barnes is still working with the university to resolve the incomplete coursework.