The chairman of the state Public Defender Board on Thursday defended the hiring of a longtime aide to Gov. Scott Walker for the public defender office’s top IT position — even though she didn’t interview for the job and wasn’t a finalist.
Danny Berkos, a Mauston defense attorney, said though the board was not involved in the decision to hire Cindy Archer at a substantial pay raise, he was kept apprised of the decision.
“As I am sure the questions will fly as to who pressured us into putting her in this new position, I can assure you this was an internal agency decision and not a decision made for the agency by anyone else,” Berkos said in an email Thursday to the State Journal.
He made the comments after the newspaper disclosed that Archer was hired as chief information officer for the office at a salary 31 percent higher than her predecessor. Archer also received an 11.7 percent pay raise, to $113,459 annually.
Archer was not one of seven candidates who interviewed for the job, nor one of two finalists forwarded to State Public Defender Kelli Thompson and her deputy Michael Tobin, department spokesman Randy Kraft said Thursday. Earlier this week, Kraft told the State Journal he was not authorized to disclose that information.
“Although the State Public Defender and Deputy State Public Defender were impressed with the qualifications of both (finalists), the final decision recognized the importance of Cindy’s hands-on knowledge and experience with the agency’s aging technology,” Kraft said.
Thompson and Tobin offered the job to Archer, who was hired as the department’s administrative services director in September. The transfer came with the double-digit raise and more pay than her predecessor, though Archer will have more responsibilities, Berkos noted.
“She has been an excellent employee for the SPD and despite what (union leader) Marty Beil may think, she is highly qualified for the job and the pay range is reasonable for the complexities of managing our agency IT system,” Berkos said, referring to Beil’s comments in the State Journal questioning Archer’s qualifications.
Archer was Walker’s administrative services director in Milwaukee County and initially was deputy administration secretary when Walker became governor. In 2011, police raided her Madison home in the John Doe investigation that led to convictions of six former Walker aides and associates. Emails from that investigation showed Archer was among Walker’s campaign and county staff who used private emails and a secret Internet router to hide campaign-related communications from public disclosure. Archer and Walker were not charged with any wrongdoing.