Politics

Democrats attack Republican Sean Duffy’s record as DA in open Wisconsin congressional race

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Wisconsin Democratic state Sen. Julie Lassa are attacking Sean Duffy with ads portraying him as a failed district attorney in the race for Wisconsin’s open 7th district congressional seat.

Lassa and Republican challenger Duffy, a former Ashland County DA, are in a dead heat for the House seat that was held by retiring Democratic Rep. David R. Obey for the last 41 years.

In the DCCC ad, put out October 13, an ominous voice speaks as photos of the Ashland courthouse flash across the screen, declaring, “while Duffy was DA, violent crime quadrupled.”

The ad, emulating the television show “Law & Order,” goes on to say that “sexual predators and repeat offenders” were “let off easy.”

All this comes one month after Lassa’s campaign aired an ad saying Duffy was a “no-show” as DA. The ad featured Ashland County assistant DA Dan Goglin criticizing Duffy, saying he was rarely seen in the office. However, the Journal Sentinel concluded the statement was only “barely true.”

The article states that Lassa’s “claim largely centers on the testimony of assistant district attorney Dan Goglin, who cites several general examples of delays. But others at the Ashland County courthouse paint a different story and largely do not back up his claims.”

Goglin is active in the Democratic Party and gave the Obey campaign $150 dollars earlier this year before Obey announced his retirement, according to the Huffington Post fund tracker.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin also launched the website therealseanduffy.com to attack Duffy’s work as DA. On the website, they state that “since Duffy took office, violent crime in Ashland County has increased by 290% and Ashland County now has the highest rate of sexual assaults in the state.”

The numbers are correct, but experts say the ads are misleading. While violent crimes did go from 15 in 2002 to 56 in 2009, the numbers do not take into account all that goes into reporting a crime.

Beverly Sidlo-Tolliver, who has been the Sexual Assault Intervention Coordinator at the New Day Shelter in the district since 2006, says that better training, focused specifically toward law enforcement and provided by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, has made victims feel safer about reporting violent crimes in some instances.

“There is a better understanding of how a victim is treated,” said Sidlo-Tolliver “Victims are feeling more comfortable coming forward.”

Despite all the attacks, Duffy was recently named as one of Time Magazine’s “40 Under 40” civic leaders. The article stated that “in northwestern Wisconsin, the Republican is thought of as the district attorney who cracked down on child sex crimes.”

The DCCC’s newest ad states, “criminals had it easy, Wisconsin taxpayers got rolled.”

The evidence doesn’t add up.