Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel should join a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to roll back rules regulating how businesses connect consumers to the Internet, Schimel’s Democratic challenger said Wednesday.
Josh Kaul, a former federal prosecutor, said Schimel should add his name to a lawsuit filed in February by 23 attorneys general.
The lawsuit challenges the FCC’s decision to reverse their 2015 decision to place stricter rules on broadband providers, including prohibiting them from blocking website-based competitors such as Netflix or charging more for faster service to accommodate such website traffic.
“That’s good news for big cable companies but it’s really bad news for consumers, and it’s also bad news for small businesses here in Wisconsin,” Kaul said at a press conference with U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth. “At a time when Wisconsinites still don’t have access to broadband in parts of the state, the last thing we need is higher prices and restricted access to service.”
Schimel said through a spokesman that the lawsuit was “frivolous” and that Schimel would not be joining it.
“There is no evidence that Wisconsin consumers have had their Internet access impaired by this rule change,” spokesman Matthew Dobler said. “It makes no sense to use taxpayer dollars to join this frivolous lawsuit.”
Wednesday’s press conference was the first Kaul has held with Madison reporters since jumping in the race for Attorney General earlier this year.
Schimel, first elected in 2014 after working as the Waukesha County District Attorney, launched his bid for a second term in March.
The two seek a four-year term overseeing the Department of Justice and will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Also Wednesday, Kaul said Schimel was too slow in testing sexual assault evidence kits since securing grant money in 2015 to identify untested kits.
Schimel told WKOW he “hit the ground running” when he received the $4 million grant and put together a plan to identify untested sexual assault evidence kits across Wisconsin and begin to test the ones that needed testing.
Kaul blasted Schimel for testing nine of the more than 6,000 identified in the first two years of the effort.
Dobler said Kaul’s comments were “playing politics with survivors of sexual assault.”
“Kaul has absolutely no plan to get these kits tested. These sexual assault kits have sat in evidence rooms for 20 years under the watch of previous attorneys general and when the AG took office he identified this problem and committed to having every kit tested in his first term,” Dobler said.
Attorneys general in that time were former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, Republican J.B. Van Hollen and Kaul’s mother, Democrat Peg Lautenschlager, who died earlier this year.
Kaul also criticized Schimel for saying he defended the state’s Voter ID law to ensure the 2016 presidential election was won fairly and suggesting President Donald Trump might not have won that year without the law.
Kaul represents One Wisconsin Institute and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund in their lawsuit against Wisconsin’s Voter ID law, which DOJ is defending.
Dobler said Schimel “has always defended fair elections and state law.”