Meet Brad

Brad Schimel lives in Waukesha County with his wife and two daughters.

A man of faith, a Wisconsin prosecutor and a member of the band 4 on the Floor, Brad is humbled to have earned the trust and support of men and women across the state.

Throughout his life, Brad Schimel has felt a calling to public service and is now honored to lead the men and women of the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Guided by Attorney General Brad Schimel, the Wisconsin DOJ has become a national leader in the fight against prescription painkiller abuse. As Attorney General, Schimel has prioritized preventing Internet crimes against children and violence against women. Under the direction of Brad Schimel, Wisconsin is a national leader in the fight against human trafficking. Together with a coalition of Attorneys General from across the country, Brad Schimel has also led numerous lawsuits challenging overreach by the federal government that would cripple the economy and hurt Wisconsin families.

Brad Schimel is law enforcement’s choice for Attorney General, and he’s working hard, every day, to be your choice, too.

The best way, however, to describe Brad, is to hear his story in his own words, from his heart…

My fellow Wisconsinites,

Thanks for coming to my website and for the opportunity to tell you a little about myself. When people ask me why I ran for Attorney General, I usually chuckle a little, because it is not as simple an answer as you might expect. The plain fact of the matter is that I did not really plan to enter politics at all.

When I was at UW Law School, my plan for my legal career was to secure a high-paying position in a big law firm. I even cut my hair and shaved my mustache for the interviews. In fact, I cleaned up so well some of my good friends I hung out with did not recognize me in the halls at school. I had my interview suit and was all clean cut, but I did not land one of the jobs I thought I wanted at the time. I was initially disappointed, but one of my professors encouraged me to explore an option under a special program sanctioned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules which permits third-year law students to appear in court as an intern in a DA’s office or the office of the State Public Defender. I took his advice, and that led me to the career as a Wisconsin prosecutor that I have loved for nearly 30 years.

I was fortunate to land a position in the DA’s office in my home county. During the summer of 1989, between my second and third years of law school, I served as a prosecutor intern in the Waukesha County DA’s Office. I fell in love with working alongside law enforcement and crime victims and ended up continuing my internship through my entire third year of law school. While some of my classmates made a LOT more money clerking for law firms, I was actually in court, practicing law. In fact, I tried seven criminal jury trials and many court trials before I finished law school. And with that, I was hooked on public service.

Upon graduation, there was not an immediate opening for a full-time assistant DA in Waukesha, so I had to hang my shingle for about five months in private practice. Then, in late 1990, I got my new dream job and took the oath of office as an assistant DA in Waukesha County. Starting pay was $27,000 per year, which was not much compared to most of my classmates’ salaries, but I was doing something I loved, and making a difference.

I did everything there was to do as a prosecutor. I went on to try over 150 more jury trials–in every type of case a DA’s office sees. I was a hands-on type of assistant DA, and took every chance I could to ride with law enforcement and go to crime scenes. Law enforcement knew that they could count on me any time night or day to help out, whether I was officially on call or not. My wife, Sandi, was not always thrilled about that!

Early on in my career, I was invited to join the board of the Waukesha County Addiction Resource Council, the nonprofit organization that provides assessments and referrals to treatment for people struggling with substance abuse addiction. I eventually was elected treasurer of the board and served for ix years. My service on this board framed my understanding of addiction and inspired work I would do later as DA and Attorney General, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Along the way, I had earned the respect of Judge Marianne Becker, who honored me by asking me to assist her with a project she was discussing with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The goal was to create the very first Victim Impact Panel for Intoxicated Drivers in Wisconsin. A small team of us succeeded in the mid-1990s in creating the program that has changed countless lives and is still used by the criminal justice system to this day. We paved the way for a program that is now in place in many of our counties and that is making communities safer throughout our state.

During my college and law school years, I had not gone to church very often. This might surprise you, but my work as an Assistant DA gave me many experiences where I saw God at work in people’s lives. Assistant DAs are not paid much, but they have enormous responsibilities. We handle thousands of cases and impact countless lives with the decisions we make. It started to occur to me that this was all bigger than me; that service as a state prosecutor is not just a career. It is a vocation.

I remember trying an OWI homicide case in which two great grandparents from my hometown of Mukwonago were killed coming home from church on Sunday morning. That was in 1993 or so, and was my first solo homicide jury trial. I was on call when the crash happened, so I worked on it with the police over the weekend. On Monday morning, I went to my boss, the DA, and asked him to let me handle the case, even though I was still pretty young. I had tried quite a few cases, and he felt I had proven myself, and he gave me the chance.

To try the case, I needed to know the victims for whom I was standing up. I learned from their adult children and grandchildren all about Laurence and Lillian Guderyon. They were amazing people. One grandson shared with me how he and grandpa had recently been up north chopping firewood, and the grandson needed to sit down for a break, but grandpa, who was in his 80s, continued to work. That detail came in handy at trial when the defense tried to suggest to the jury that Laurence had experienced an heart attack and had been the one who caused the crash.

The day they were hit head on by a repeat drunk driver, Laurence had donated a lawn mower he had restored to the church. Lillian used to bring cookies into the police department to thank the officers for their work. They were always doing things like that. They reminded me an awful lot of my grandparents. That truly was the “greatest generation.” It was a challenging trial for a number of reasons, but I knew I MUST get justice for Laurence and Lillian and their family.

I felt a lot of pressure, and in the midst of the trial preparation, I decided to pray for guidance. I felt the pressure lift and from that time on, I have viewed my work as a prosecutor and my quest to get justice for victims as my “mission field,” and I never enter my mission field without giving thanks.

By the way, the trial went well, and the killer was sentenced to the maximum possible sentences on every count, even every single day he could serve in prison for operating with a revoked license. I helped convince some legislators at the time that we needed to increase the penalties for homicide by OWI. I still have in my office a stuffed pig wearing Harley Davidson gear that the family of Laurence and Lillian gave me to say thank you. They knew I loved riding my motorcycle. That momento serves as a reminder of why I do what I do.

I have a number of those types of keepsakes in my office, and the small gifts I received from crime victims I helped are among my most treasured possessions. I have a small homemade chopper fashioned from bolts welded together that I received from a young man who had developmental disabilities. He was sexually assaulted and physically abused by a coworker who resented that the employer hired people with disabilities at the company. He had a hard time communicating because of his disabilities, but I worked with him to help him be able to tell the jury what happened, and the defendant was convicted. The young man had seen pictures of my motorcycle in my office, and asked one of his other coworkers to make the little motorcycle for me. That little motorcycle on my credenza at work goes unnoticed by many who come to my office I’m sure, but I cherish it.

Everyone who knows me knows I love to ride motorcycles, and have had my current Electra Glide Classic for 24 years now. I served seven years as a Road Captain with the Kettle Moraine Chapter of the Harley Owners Group. These days, I don’t get to ride very often.

I knew that if I was going to be successful in the kind of work I had chosen, I needed God’s support, and I started going back to church at St. William Catholic Parish in Waukesha. I wanted to be active, and joined the Human Concerns Committee. I eventually became the Chair of the committee, and also chaired the Right to Life subcommittee. The Human Concerns Committee gave me the chance to participate in so much good work in our community. Perhaps the most rewarding was coordinating a Sunday prayer service at the former Ethan Allen School for Boys, a juvenile correctional facility in western Waukesha County. For some of the young men, we were the only visitors who came to see them. We went there to share our faith with those young men, but every one of us gained more than we gave.

My family is now at St. Anthony on the Lake Parish in Pewaukee, and I have been privileged to share His Word as a Lector for the last few years.

After I had completed my service on the Board of Directors at the Addiction Resource Council, I was approached by another non-profit that was at the time called the Pregnancy Support Connection. It would eventually merge with another organization and become Safe Babies Healthy Families. The organization provided full wrap-around services from counseling and newborn care training all of the way to residential placement in one of the transitional homes we managed. I eventually went on to be elected President of the Board and served for over eight years. The organization did great work to ensure that moms-to-be, mostly young in age, had the skills, resources and support to have a healthy pregnancy and safe and healthy child all of the way up to age five.  

One winter I was asked to announce at mass that the Human Concerns Committee at church was looking for volunteers to help shovel snow for seniors through Interfaith Caregiving Network. I ended up signing up myself. After a couple of winters of snow shoveling, the Executive Director approached me about joining the Board of Directors. I loved my grandparents, and the opportunity to serve seniors was too good to pass up, so I joined yet another nonprofit board. The agency eventually became Interfaith Senior Programs and recently rebranded as ERAs Senior Programs. The name has changed, but the core mission remains to provide services to our seniors and adults with disabilities, both in the form of in-home services to keep them safe and thriving and in opportunities to be active in the community to whatever extent they are able. I was eventually elected President of the Board and served for seven years. What I learned on that board played a pivotal role in our formation of the Elder Abuse Task Force at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Somewhere in the midst of this, I also served for six years on the Board of Directors for the Waukesha County Food Pantry, another incredibly rewarding experience. I served on the Executive Committee, but the part of my service about which I am most proud was co-chairing the committee that fostered the move of the agency to a very much bigger location. It was a risky move, because it meant that agency had to dramatically increase fundraising, but we desperately needed the space if we were to serve a client population that had grown exponentially. That was over a decade ago, and the agency is stronger than ever in that new location.

I spent over five years assigned to Juvenile Court in the late 1990s, and helped implement the completely revamped Juvenile Code that was enacted in 1995. I became active in and was eventually elected President of the Waukesha County Juvenile Officers Association.

The largest part of my career as an assistant DA was spent in the Sensitive Crimes Unit, which handled sexual assault, child abuse and elder abuse prosecutions. This was both the most difficult and most rewarding work at the same time. It was emotionally draining, and the cases were very difficult to prove, but to me there were no more important cases. I fully immersed myself in this work and became involved as the office representative to the multidisciplinary Coordinated Community Response and Sexual Assault Response Teams.

Those of us working on child abuse cases became frustrated that we did not have a local child advocacy center in Waukesha. The Child and Adolescent Treatment Center (CATC) in Milwaukee was outstanding but there were unavoidable waiting lists for forensic interviews and even medical exams, because it was at the time the only place to go in southeastern Wisconsin. Plus, some families in Waukesha did not want to take their child all the way to downtown Milwaukee. Further, it was only a place to get a forensic interview and a medical exam. Non-offending family members of the victim were sent home with fliers and business cards for counselors and victim service agencies, but these families were in crisis, and often did not follow up with making those calls to schedule appointments with agencies that could help the child begin the healing process.

A group of five of us, from various agencies that worked with children who were victims of abuse set out to change that, and I am proud to say, our work led to a sea change throughout Wisconsin. We formed a small task force made up of a police lieutenant, associate director of The Women’s Center, executive director of Family Service of Waukesha, a supervisor of juvenile services at the Waukesha County Department of Human Services and me. We sought and received grant funding to attend a 2004 multidisciplinary team conference in the Minneapolis area focused on creating a child advocacy center. We did not really know what we were getting into, but we came back committed to do something no one in Wisconsin had yet done. We partnered with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and less than two years later, opened the doors to the Big Yellow House, our state’s first full-service child advocacy center. The template we created encouraged other communities to do the same, and Wisconsin now has a strong network of CACs in communities all around the state. I co-chaired the Steering Committee for the Big Yellow House until I left the DA’s office to become Attorney General.

In 2006, I received one of the greatest professional honors of my career when the Wisconsin Association of Victim and Witness Professionals named me their “Professional of the Year” for my work on behalf of survivors of sexual assault.

It was not just child victims we served in the Sensitive Crimes Unit. There were also adult victims of sexual violence. Like with child victims, the services available to adult victims needed improvement. I had an opportunity to work with the team at Waukesha Memorial Hospital to create a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program in Waukesha County. Adult sexual assault victims were being taken to the Sexual Assault Treatment Center in Milwaukee, which like the CATC, was an outstanding, but overwhelmed facility. We decided that the state’s third largest county should have its own SANE services, and thanks to the community service oriented approach at ProHealth Care and some very talented people in our law enforcement and human services teams, we got it done.

We also created a protocol for the handling of the Sexual Assault Kits that were collected by the SANE Nurses. As a result, when I ran for AG, I knew what to do to tackle our state’s 20-year problem of accumulated sexual assault kits that had not been submitted to the Crime Lab for testing. At DOJ, we put in place a process that will resolve that decades-old problem in less than three years. Even more importantly, we developed a statewide protocol that will prevent this from ever happening again.

By the way, thanks to the protocol we put in place in Waukesha County years ago, the third-largest county only had 39 unsubmitted kits that needed to be tested. Statewide there were over 4,100. At DOJ,  I saw the value in constructing a comprehensive, victim-centered plan like we did in Waukesha. The criminal justice system is run by human beings, so there will always be some mistakes, but my experience in the DA’s office taught me how to implement strategies to minimize those mistakes.

I also knew that a strategy to serve sexual assault survivors better required coordination of SANE services across our state. I campaigned on the promise to do so, and shortly after taking office as AG, I hired our state’s first statewide SANE Coordinator. Through this position, DOJ has increased training for SANE nurses and made the training more affordable to local health care systems and more convenient to the individual nurses.

I know that if we are to make the criminal justice system as effective as possible, we need to provide the best training possible. I worked hard for over 20 years to make sure that the young professionals coming into the criminal justice system were prepared for the ever changing challenges of the work. For most of my career, I have been an instructor in the law enforcement in-service trainings that all certified police officers must complete each year. Eventually, I was invited to become an adjunct instructor at Concordia University of Wisconsin in the criminal justice program. After several years of that, I moved to Waukesha County Technical College, where I taught Criminal Law and Criminal Evidence to future law enforcement officers for well over a decade.

Since coming to DOJ, we have implemented tremendous enhancements to law enforcement training statewide, and even increased the number of hours of training necessary to become a police officer. We have also created a comprehensive physical, emotional and psychological wellness program for our law enforcement across the state. It is the first and only program of its kind in America, and I am immensely proud of our efforts to better serve and protect those who serve and protect us. My experiences in the DA’s office working alongside law enforcement for 25 years taught me the importance of this.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I was elected Waukesha County District Attorney in 2006. Remember at the beginning of this when I said I chuckle when people ask why I decided to run for AG? The fact of the matter is that I never even planned to run for District Attorney. I had no plans to become involved in politics. I was thriving as a sensitive crimes prosecutor, and planned to stay in that role. When my predecessor moved on, though, he and the lead deputy DA in the office approached me and said I should run for DA. I did not take that seriously until the other attorneys in the office told me that I was the person they wanted to run. The current and all living past sheriffs, police chiefs and police officer unions also pledged their support and urged me to run. It was a contested race with a very well qualified opponent, but I prevailed.

As DA, I set out to use the things I had learned in 17 years as an assistant DA. I had spent some time assigned to the Metro Drug Unit, and by 2005, I saw the growing storm of the opiate epidemic coming. When I took office as DA in 2007, I became an executive committee member of the county Criminal Justice Collaborating Council. Waukesha County had already established the state’s very first Alcohol Treatment Court, and I knew we desperately needed the same kind of opportunity for those struggling with opiate addiction. I began beating the drum to form a Drug Treatment Court, but was having some difficulty convincing some of the others on the CJCC that it was necessary. Eventually, I think I became such an annoyance that they authorized me to form and chair a Drug Abuse Trends Task Force to explore the options. That committee was eventually successful in launching our very successful Drug Treatment Court that is changing lives to this day.

As DA, I served on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin District Attorneys’ Association, on the Wisconsin Judicial Council, on the Wisconsin Crime Victim Council, as President of the Preventing Alcohol Related Crashes (PARC) Task Force, co-chaired the Waukesha Child Fatality Review Board, served on the Board of Directors of the UW Waukesha Foundation, served as a member of the Wisconsin STOP Grant Committee. I served as an active member of the Waukesha Noon Rotary for almost a decade, but could not keep that up as AG.

I served as DA in our state’s third largest county for eight years. I suppose it was only natural that people would occasionally ask me if I had plans to run for Attorney General someday. When they asked, it was usually my wife Sandi who answered with an emphatic “no!” I did not argue with her, partially because arguing with her is a losing proposition, but partially because I loved what I was doing, and did not really have a desire to run for AG.

That changed when my predecessor decided not to seek a third term as AG and asked me to consider running. I was not really on board, but said I would need to pray on it and ask my wife for permission and guidance. I did the praying first, and began to feel a calling to run, but fully intended to give my wife veto power. I went to her to ask permission, and expected to be denied permission, and that would be the end of it. Only Sandi said “yes.”  When I asked her why she had changed her mind, she told me I needed a change. I debated that I loved my 25 years in the DA’s Office, and did not think I needed a change, but she stood firm and made a strong case. She told me that the work on the front lines had been affecting me negatively, and I was quiet and distracted when I was at home. Once I did become AG, I saw she was right. The cumulative burden of working directly with so much negativity and trouble had become so much that it was affecting my home life.

That revelation from Sandi inspired me to launch our first in the nation Law Enforcement Wellness Program at DOJ, which focuses not just on physical fitness, but more importantly on the emotional and psychological impacts of serving in law enforcement. Those cumulative impacts have resulted in law enforcement officers having shorter lifespans, higher divorce rates, and most tragically, we lose four times as many officers to suicide as to duty deaths. One of my most important missions is to change this. DOJ requires any conference we sponsor to have a wellness component. We have worked tirelessly to get every police department in the state to provide a full array of services to address officer wellness. We have developed a police chaplain credentialing program that is the only such program in America.  I am proud of the great work we are doing to protect and serve those who protect and serve us.

I have not done any of this alone. As I have said, I am grateful to God for the gifts He has given to me. Also, my family has been supportive, and without much recognition. There was one time when my wife and daughters did receive a formal recognition… in 2013 when the Schimel family received the Family Service of Waukesha award as Family of the Year. Sandi and I have been married 22 years, and she is my rock. Mackenzie is 17 and Hailey is 15 now, and I am so grateful to the girls for all that they have sacrificed so that I could pursue my calling.

I know this note is very long, and a little unorthodox. But I figure if you care enough to come to this site, you are researching your options and deserve to know who I am, what motivates me, and how I go about my job as your Attorney General.

I respect people of all backgrounds and faiths, including those who choose not to believe in a higher power. My faith isn’t exclusionary. But it is a part of who I am, and I’m not ashamed of it. My Catholic faith guides me to serve others, and to try to be the best person, father, husband and public servant I can be.

Whether or not I’ve earned your support, you’ve earned my appreciation for taking the time to read this and learn more about me than you could from any political advertisement or public appearance.

My experiences and my faith guide my approach as a public servant. At DOJ we are part of a team. We work closely with local law enforcement leaders to help them keep Wisconsin families safe, and I am running for re-election to continue to have the honor to serve all of Wisconsin.

Sincerely,

Brad

MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS ATTORNEY GENERAL

  • Streamlined background checks for gun purchases and expedited concealed carry permits.
  • Led initiatives that support victims of domestic abuse and violent crime, such as Marsy’s Law and the Safe at Home program.
  • Created the Elder Abuse task force to protect seniors from fraud and harm.
  • Launched the Dose of Reality campaign to increase awareness about opioid abuse, a program many other states have modeled directly.
  • Led Drug take Back Days across the state to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs, amassing 17 semi trucks full.
  • Promoted officer wellness to keep the men and women of law enforcement healthy and enabled to do their jobs.