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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher June 1, 2012

In Wisconsin recall, Dem challenger Tom Barrett says no one on his staff "has ever been charged with a crime”

Part of the May 31, 2012 gubernatorial recall debate focused on an ongoing John Doe criminal investigation into Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s time as Milwaukee County executive.

Walker has created a criminal defense fund to pay attorneys but has maintained he is not a target of the secret probe, which is being conducted by the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office. The probe has led to criminal charges against three former Walker aides, an appointee and a major campaign contributor.

Walker’s challenger in the June 5, 2012 election, Democrat and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, alluded to the charges when he said: "I have a police department that arrests felons. He (Walker) has a practice of hiring them."
To be sure, felony charges are among those pending, but none involving Walker aides or the appointee has yet resulted in a felony conviction.

A few minutes later Barrett fired again:

"I just want to say I’ve been in public life for 28 years," said Barrett, who served in the state Legislature and Congress before becoming Milwaukee mayor in 2004, "and no one on my staff has ever been charged with a crime, and I’ve never had a criminal defense fund."

A quick Google search, however, found a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel news article reporting that Joseph N. Cantu, a receptionist in Barrett’s mayoral office, was charged in May 2010 with suffocating his ex-girlfriend.

"These are shocking and serious charges," Patrick Curley, Barrett's chief of staff, said at the time.

Court records show Cantu was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor, but pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors: disorderly conduct and two counts of battery. He was sentenced to two years of probation and 90 days in jail.

We were not able to do a complete search of all his staffers in all his past offices, but this alone contradicts the claim.

Barrett campaign spokesman Phil Walzak told the Journal Sentinel there is a big difference between an office receptionist being charged with a crime outside of work and the job-related charges faced by Walker aides in the Doe probe.

However, in making the claim, Barrett made no such distinction.

Our rating

Barrett said flatly "no one on my staff has ever been charged with a crime." His receptionist was charged in 2010 with battery and was convicted.

We rate Barrett’s statement False.

Featured Fact-check

(You can comment on this item on the Journal Sentinel website.)

Our Sources, Scott Walker-Tom Barrett debate (at 6:05 and 10:00), May 31, 2012

Email interview, Scott Walker campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews, June 1, 2012

Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, Joseph N. Cantu court records

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker’s office stonewalled DA inquiry, record shows," May 31, 2012

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mayor’s reception charged in domestic violence incident," May 24, 2010

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "More on Barrett’s statement about aides and crimes," June 1, 2012

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More by Tom Kertscher

In Wisconsin recall, Dem challenger Tom Barrett says no one on his staff "has ever been charged with a crime”

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