MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. James E. Doyle, who made a long political career as a no-nonsense prosecutor standing up for victims, now must deal with what to do about a district attorney caught sending racy text message to a domestic abuse victim.
An outraged Mr. Doyle said Monday that he would start the process to consider removing Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz and that he hopes to make a decision in a month. At a news conference five days after the Associated Press broke the story, Mr. Doyle said any prosecutor who would have behaved that way on his watch would have faced repercussions.
“I consider this to be a very, very, very serious issue,” said Mr. Doyle, a former district attorney and attorney general who leaves the governor’s office in January. “It’s one that personally strikes to a lot of things I have worked very hard on in my career: crime victims’ rights and domestic violence. It troubles me deeply that somebody turns to the criminal justice system for help and receives the kinds of texts we have seen.”
Mr. Doyle, a two-term Democrat, said that as soon as he receives a complaint from a local taxpayer required under the law, he would appoint a hearing commissioner, hold a public hearing and make a decision on whether to remove Mr. Kratz. He promised to move “very, very quickly.”
“I believe the process for removal needs to get going and get going immediately,” Mr. Doyle said.
Mr. Doyle also said he also wants to look into why no action was taken after something about Mr. Kratz was reported to the state’s Office of Lawyer Regulation. An investigator in that office closed the case without taking action in March, saying Mr. Kratz’s behavior was inappropriate but did not violate rules governing attorney conduct.
Mr. Doyle said the state Department of Justice had referred the matter to the lawyer responsibility office and never heard back that the matter ended without any action being taken.
Mr. Kratz has acknowledged sending 30 text messages in three days last year to a woman while he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend in an abuse case. In the messages, Mr. Kratz asked whether the woman was “the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA” and called her a “tall, young, hot nymph.”
Mr. Doyle also made public a letter sent last week from a second woman who said Mr. Kratz abused his position in seeking a relationship with her earlier this year. The woman claims she met Mr. Kratz through an online dating site and eventually went out to dinner with him.
The woman said Mr. Kratz talked to detectives about a high-profile missing woman investigation in front of her and gave her confidential details. Afterward, he sent her text messages with developments and later invited her to the slain woman’s autopsy, “provided I act as his girlfriend and would wear high heels and a skirt.”
The woman said she ended contact after a “few frustrating days.”
Mr. Doyle’s office redacted the name of the woman, but the governor said the letter was released after his office talked with her. Mr. Doyle called Mr. Kratz’s behavior related to the autopsy the most troubling and “unimaginable” if true.
“The thought that a victim’s body would somehow be used as a lure … I don’t know who could ever see it as a lure — that’s almost gallows humor,” he said. “To have an autopsy be used as a premise for a social engagement is just beyond anything anybody could imagine.”