Herrera today released the following letter, dated yesterday, from Dennis M. Rome, interim associate provost at UW-P, which says:
Upon receiving further details and looking into this matter more extensively, I would like to provide you with the following statement:Herrera's latest statement on the matter is at the bottom of this post.
The University of Wisconsin System records indicate that Mr. Eugene Gasiorkiewicz was employed in a Lecturer position at UW-Parkside in the academic year 1977-78.
I would like to retract my previous letter which read: "After a thorough check of our human resources system, we have determined that we have no record of attorney Eugene Gasiorkiewicz teaching any course or employed in any other way at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside."
I apologize for any inconvenience which this may have caused.
The race for the Circuit Court seat to be vacated by Judge Stephen Simanek has escalated to a new level. Or has it descended? You decide.
Instead of lists of endorsements, the campaign turned nasty yesterday, as Georgia Herrera charged Gene Gasiorkiewicz, her opponent in the April 6 election, with "a concerning pattern of misleading statements."
Among other things, Herrera says Gasiorkiewicz falsely lists himself on campaign literature as a "former special prosecutor" in the Racine County District Attorney's office. But after searching public records on CCAP (the Wisconsin Consolidated Court Automation Program), Herrera says there is "no record of him ever being a prosecutor."
Herrera also says that Gasiorkiewicz claims he lectured at UW-Parkside, but "a public records request" she filed with the university found "no record of him ever teaching at Parkside."
Gasiorkiewicz calls Herrera's charges "a desperate attempt...to make herself look more qualified by resorting to negative political attacks," adding, "I was practicing and lecturing on law before she was out of high school."
He lists three periods of time in the 1970s and '80s when he served as a prosecutor, and notes a reason why Herrera might have failed to find any records on CCAP: "Racine County only began using the CCAP system in 1992."
As for Herrera's statement that he never taught at UW-Parkside, Gasiorkiewicz tonight submitted to RacinePost a letter written today by Sylvia Coronado-Romero, UW-Parkside director of Human Resources, stating: "The University of Wisconsin System records indicate that Mr. Eugene A. Gasiorkiewicz was employed in a Lecturer position at UW-Parkside in academic year 1977-78."
Georgia Herrera's statement, March 17:
The voters rightly expect that judicial candidates won’t mislead them. I believe the public rightly holds us to the highest standard in our campaign statements and literature.Gene Gasiorkiewicz's response, March 18:
I wouldn’t raise this issue if it was one incident, but I have now seen a concerning pattern of misleading statements from my opponent on several issues.
First, his campaign mailed a post card just days ago that purported to list the “number of cases handled in circuit court” with a bar graph, citing CCAP as the source. My opponent must know that CCAP doesn’t show the attorney handling juvenile cases, guardianship cases, or mental health cases, all of which I’ve handled over that time period. More importantly, he apparently neglected to show the number of cases I’d handled as Circuit Court Commissioner during the same time period. As Circuit Court Commissioner I’ve handled thousands of cases since 1999. I have the court calendars to show it, and as example in 2009 I handled 1,678 cases as Circuit Court Commissioner. In 2008 I handled 2204 cases as Circuit Court Commissioner. Even that doesn’t tell the whole story. As Assistant District Attorney I tried hundreds of cases to conclusion. His “Number of Cases Handled in Circuit Court” bar graph distorts my significant career and experience.
Second, my opponent’s campaign literature and web page claim he was a “Racine County Prosecutor” and was a “Former Special Prosecutor – Racine County District Attorney’s office.”
I worked in the Racine County District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor for over a decade, and never heard of him ever working there or being appointed “special prosecutor.” I checked CCAP because it has the ability to search for cases by prosecuting attorney, and it says it has no record of him ever being prosecutor. We did a public records request for whatever record existed in the Racine County Circuit Court Clerk’s office and the District Attorney’s office of him working as a prosecutor, and the response we received was the County has no such record. I understand he may claim he had one incident referred to him well over 20 years ago to prosecute a battery misdemeanor because the victim was then an employee of the DA’s office, but he never filed a case according to court records, and he apparently just dismissed it. This record clearly does not describe an attorney being a “Racine County Prosecutor.”
Third, his campaign literature claims he was a labor law lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. We asked Parkside in a public records request, and found that school has no record of him ever teaching at Parkside. His campaign materials are all over the County misleading the public on this asserted qualification. It is an important qualification issue.
I’ve taught constitutional law and criminal procedure at Concordia University for 15 years.
I firmly believe that as Circuit Court judge you must firmly and accurately speak the truth, not bend or distort it. The growing pattern of misleading statements from my opponent has no place in Wisconsin judicial elections, and is reminiscent of the “politics” as usual he says he wants to avoid.
I am greatly disappointed at this desperate attempt by my opponent to make herself look more qualified by resorting to negative political attacks. Her claims are simply not true, and this sort of negative personal attack is exactly what is driving voter dissatisfaction with politics today.UPDATE: Georgia Herrera issued the following statement on March 19, after receiving the retraction and correction from UW-Parkside interim associate provost Dennis M. Rome printed at the top of this post:
First, as an attorney with over 34 years of professional experience in nearly every area of the law, I can understand why my opponent cannot recall some of my activities. I was practicing and lecturing on law before she was out of high school. Her claims that, while digging through my past looking for political ammunition, she was unable to find some records to verify some of my experience are the classic tactics of a desperate campaign. Though I don't doubt the zeal of her search, just because she was unable to locate some documents does not mean she is correct.
Regarding her claims related to comparing her appearances in Circuit Court to mine, I stand my my numbers. Furthermore, the Circuit Court records actually understate the full breadth of my experience in Circuit Court, because those records do not go back far enough to track my entire career. The voters clearly have the right to know and compare the level of relevant experience each of us has in the very courts we aspire to preside over. The numbers in my literature fairly and accurately compare our relative Circuit Court appearances over the past decade. The source of these numbers is also present on my literature in case voters wish to review the basis for my conclusions. While my opponent would like to make it seem as though she has much more experience in many areas of the law than I, the facts do not support her claims.
Her assertion that I have never been a special prosecutor is also false. Her claim on her website that she is the only candidate with prosecutorial experience is also false. I prosecuted cases for Racine County Corporation Counsel in 1973, under Dennis Flynn. I have also prosecuted cases for Caledonia, which can be verified by Retired Chief Tomachek. In the late 1970s or early 1980s, I was appointed a special prosecutor by Gerald Ptacek (who, though a supporter of my opponent, I understand acknowledges my appointment). My opponent's documentation referring to her searches on CCAP fail to produce results for my activities before 1992 because Racine County only began using the CCAP system in 1992.
My family has a long history of serving at UW-Parkside. Despite the claims of my opponent, I did in fact serve as a Lecturer at UW-Parkside in academic year 1977-78. Among others who can likely recall my time there is my father, who is an Emeritus Professor at UW-P. As it turns out, you don't have to take my word for it, because after contacting the University, they have provided me with documentation that proves my opponent's claims to be untrue. (The letter from Sylvia Coronado-Romero of UW-P.)
Clearly, my opponent's campaign is making these claims in a desperate attempt to avoid being rejected by the voters once again. While she continues to make personal attacks, I stand by my record.
We just received the attached correction from University of Wisconsin Parkside. Apparently they dug deeper into old records in Madison and found that over 30 years ago my opponent was a lecturer at Parkside in the academic year 1977-78.Check the candidates' websites for more. (Photos above from Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade.)
I spoke with Interim Associate Provost Rome, who informed me the class appeared to be Labor Economics. I wanted you to have this as soon as I received it. While this correction is important, it does not support the impression left by my opponent’s statements at forums and the implication of his campaign brochure that this teaching experience is recent, ongoing, or significant. This is especially true when it is stacked up against my ongoing and 15 years of teaching Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure at Concordia University.
I want this campaign to be based on facts so that the voters are fully and completely informed when they cast their ballots for their next judge.