Gov. Tony Evers said he is “confident” in how Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes has responded to questions raised about his claims a year ago of completing a college degree, despite having not done so.
“I’ve talked to (Barnes) on all sorts of things, including this, and I feel confident that he’s been truthful,” Evers said during a Friday news conference on another topic, adding that Barnes has provided “responsible responses.”
In response to a Wisconsin State Journal candidate questionnaire last year when Barnes 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 also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel twice in a November interview that he “finished” college, and the paper reported he had graduated.
However, Barnes this month revealed to the weekly newspaper Isthmus that he had never turned in completed coursework to resolve an incomplete. He called it “a small technical thing.”
Barnes’ spokesman said earlier this month the questionnaire response was an error made by a former campaign staffer.
During Friday’s appearance, in which Evers and Barnes appeared together to tout renewable energy goals, Barnes clashed with reporters asking the governor if he felt that Barnes had been truthful about whether or not he graduated.
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Jumping in before Evers could answer, Barnes said he “absolutely has been” truthful.
Barnes again stated the error was made by a staffer and noted that his name does appear in his class graduation book.
“That didn’t come from me,” Barnes said of the error in the questionnaire.
“I have literally clarified everything,” he said.
School officials have confirmed that Barnes has not graduated but is working with the university to resolve the incomplete course.
Barnes also came under scrutiny this year for seeking extensive protection from the Wisconsin State Patrol. The patrol’s records showed that as of May, he had recorded nine times more hours of security protection during his first two months in office than his GOP predecessor, Rebecca Kleefisch, had in all of 2018. Republicans accused him of misusing taxpayer money.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.