But Venderleest’s candidacy shows just how far the Wisconsin GOP is willing to stoop to retain power, as he was a deeply troubled candidate:
“[In 2006 and 2009,] VanderLeest was arrested on domestic abuse allegations involving his ex-wife but was not convicted. … The Democratic Party on Wednesday also released Green Bay Police Department reports on separate incidents in 2006 in which VanderLeest was arrested for pulling out a chunk of his ex-wife’s hair and for throwing her to the kitchen floor to keep her from calling police. Those arrests led to the later charges and 2007 plea deal.[...]
As part of the 2007 plea deal, VanderLeest avoided a felony charge of intimidating a witness and misdemeanor battery and bail-jumping charges. VanderLeest entered an Alford plea, which means he maintained his innocence but acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him.
In the plea hearing, the judge in the case stressed VanderLeest had received leniency, according to a court transcript released by the Democratic Party.
“I’ll be very candid with you, you really have dodged a bullet here. I am quite satisfied, from having reviewed this, that the state would have had a good prospect for success on that felony file,” said Brown County Circuit Judge Kendall Kelley.”
In recent months, Wisconsin’s political environment has become increasingly toxic. In order to retain its three-seat hold on the state senate, the GOP ran fake Democratic candidates in the recall primaries a week ago to push back the date of the general elections. And top lawmakers hint that conservatives are manuevering the schedule of a recall vote on Walker to coincide with the spring GOP presidential primary, when GOP voter turnout will be at its peak.
One of the six issues to land a place on VanderLeest’s official campaign website involves CCAP reform, which would make it more difficult to access public documents through Wisconsin’s court records database. (tagline: “if you are not guilty, why should you suffer the ramifications of the charges?”)
But the 34 percent of residents in Wisconsin’s 30th District can take heart. As he told Wisconsin Public Radio on July 15, at least VanderLeest doesn’t “smoke rocks.”