Sunday, September 26, 2010
JB VAN HOLLEN CHIEF LAW ENFORCER FOR WISCONSIN
Since 2006, Attorney General JB Van Hollen has been a one-man crime-fighting force in the State of Wisconsin and after 2010, he's hoping he will no longer have to fight alone. The long time District and US Attorney is not only running for reelection himself but is also looking forward to the distinct possibility of having a Republican Governor, a Republican Legislature, and a Republican Senate. After all, after having to fight the Doyle administration and the Wisconsin legislature for 4 years, the job can only get easier.
Born John Byron Van Hollen on February 19, 1966 (WIKIPEDIA) in the town of Chetek John C and Rosella Van Hollen. John C., a realtor and Korean War Veteran, also served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1966 to 1970. J.B. grew up in Chetek and later in the Town of Delta in Bayfield County. A graduate of St Olaf's University (Northfield, Minnesota) in 1988 with an undergraduate degree in political science, he went on to obtain his law degree at the University of Wisconsin Law School 2 years later. According to his Website (biography) although he was courted by several law firms, J.B. actually began his career as an Assistant State Public Defender in Spooner, Wisconsin. In 1991 Van Hollen became a federal prosecutor as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. In 1993 Governor Tommy Thompson appointed Van Hollen to the position of District Attorney in Ashland County. He stepped down 6 years later to pursue other life interests, but a short time later Governor Thompson appointed him to serve as Bayfield County District Attorney. He was reelected with bipartisan support. He became well-known when President George W Bush appointed him US Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin in 2002 and his reputation as a star law enforcement official climbed to new heights. As the US Attorney for 44 counties in Wisconsin, JB coordinated a massive sting operation in Hayward, using 100 members of law enforcement to crack down on gangs, drugs, and guns. Through multiple levels of agencies, dozens of search warrants were executed simultaneously and dozens were arrested with the average federal prosecution resulting in a several-year federal prison sentence. In turn, the evidence collected helped to solve a homicide case. He under-spent his budget during all three of his years as U.S. Attorney. The number of criminal cases filed by his office increased by 15% in 2002, 7% in 2003, and 23% in 2004 totaling a 53% increase during his tenure. He initiated Project Safe Neighborhoods, a federal effort to reduce violent gun crime by enforcing the numerous laws already on the books. In its first year, Van Hollen worked in Rock County to prosecute individuals for gun crimes ranging from being a felon in possession of firearms or ammo to use of firearms during violent felonies, resulting in an average prison sentence of more than five years. Van Hollen later expanded the effort to Dane County and several multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement groups in rural Wisconsin. Firearms prosecutions nearly tripled during his tenure.
In 2006, he decided to run for State Attorney General. He overtook Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher and won the nomination. In the worst of circumstances for Republicans, he won the Attorney General election by beating Democrat Kathleen Falk was the only Republican in the nation that year to win a statewide seat held by a Democrat.
When not involved with the rigors of running the Attorney General's office, JB enjoys running, biking, hunting swimming, skiing, basketball and golf. He has run two marathons and completed the 2003 Ironman Wisconsin Triathlon. He is a member of Ducks Unlimited, Grouse Unlimited, National Rifle Association, Wisconsin Sporting Heritage, Inc., and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He also has been involved with the Freemasons for a large part of his life, becoming Master Mason in 1985 and Grand Master of Masons in 2007, serving in this capacity into 2008. JB and his wife, Lynn, live in Waunakee and have two children, Byron and Madelyn.
JB has been campaigning hard around Wisconsin. His Democratic challenger, Democrat Scott Hassett, has yet to be heard from. Determined to be a vital cog in the resurgence of conservative governing in 2011, JB talked to me about his campaign, the state of ObamaCare, and his experiences as Wisconsin Attorney General over the past 4 years.
1. YOU HAVE SERVED AS ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE STATE OF WISCONSIN UNDER DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP FOR 4 YEARS. CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT HAS FRUSTRATED YOU THE MOST OVER THOSE 4 YEARS?
I think basically 2 things: It is very frustrating to me when a liberal Governor like the one we have doesn't prioritize something as fundamental as public safety. Protecting our freedoms and liberties in this country is the most important thing that our government can do and yet overall spending during tough times went up and yet overall spending for public safety, law enforcement, and my Department of Justice budget went down and when we're trying to do so much good to help protect our citizens, having our spending priorities being so off-kilter is frustrating. And the other thing is the lack of respect for the Rule of Law. Politics, has, unfortunately played a role in our ability to do the best we could for the State of Wisconsin, whether it be our ability to join with Arizona to defend against the Federal Government in a lawsuit or to file briefs on the 2nd Amendment with the Supreme Court or a lawsuit on ObamaCare, the reality is that the Governor has let politics stand in the way of our doing our job to defend the state. Those two things are very frustrating.
JB is the chief law enforcement officer for the State of Wisconsin!
2. THERE IS ANTICIPATION FOR WISCONSIN TO HAVE THE FIRST REPUBLICAN-LED GOVERNMENT IN MANY YEARS. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH IN THAT SITUATION?
I'm hoping that we can accomplish what Republicans as a whole set out to do and that is to limit the size of Government but when we do limit the size of government, we have to make sure that we maintain our priorities as well. I have a great concern that Republicans may think that reducing the size of government may mean we make across-the-board cuts and reduce the size of every aspect of government. Well, that's not what we as conservatives, believe. We believe that we need to cut spending completely in some areas, considerably in other areas, and sometimes even increase spending in priority areas; areas where the government does need to be involved in our lives and I am hoping that when we get Republican control of the Governor's office, over the legislature, that we are going to be able to focus on government as a whole and make wholesale changes versus across-the-board cuts.
3. IN YOUR TIME AS STATE AG, WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING YOU'VE EXPERIENCED?
You know, there have been so many things that have been incredibly rewarding but I think that the most satisfying has been getting rid of the backlog of DNA evidence in our crime labs. Not only had every Attorney General candidate for decades run on the promise of getting rid of the backlog, every Attorney General had promised to get rid of the backlog and when I had inherited it, it was escalating horribly out of control and we needed to address it and we needed to address it promptly. We not only got rid of the backlog of DNA in the crime labs but we did it only partially by putting resources after the problem. A big part of what we did was by putting more efficiencies and technologies in the way we did business in the Department of Justice so that we got more bang for the taxpayer buck and so in the in process of helping law enforcement with perhaps the most significant law enforcement tool that has come along in our lifetimes, we were able to do it very efficiently economically, as well, and it is hard to not consider that to be the greatest success.
JB is out campaigning hard for this fall\'s election turnaround!
4. CAN YOU GIVE US AN UPDATE ON THE STATE OF YOUR LEGAL CHALLENGE TO OBAMACARE? WHAT ELSE IS BEING DONE AROUND THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW TO COMBAT THIS LEGISLATION?
Well, we're in a holding pattern in Wisconsin right now, as most people I think, are now aware. As Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin, I have considerable power and authority but it is still limited. And as a conservative, I hold myself to those limits and I don't believe that government should grow beyond what the law entitles us to do. And, suing over ObamaCare is simply something that I have limits placed on me to do and it was necessary for me to get approval from either the governor or one of the bodies of the legislature to bring this lawsuit. We submitted an 8-page detailed memorandum of law indicating why we should bring this suit to all three of them. All three of them declined it and so now, as along as the Legislature and the Governor's office is controlled by their current leadership, we are out of luck when it comes to Wisconsin joining a lawsuit or initiating a lawsuit over the Federal Health Care law. However, when we get a new governor and at a time when we are going to have a new make-up in the Senate and a new make-up in the Assembly we are going to renew our requests, as long as I am Attorney General, and I would suspect that we would be able to get that request granted, in which we will be able to join an ongoing lawsuit or file a lawsuit ourselves. Otherwise there is a consortium of states whose Attorney's General have gotten together and brought a single lawsuit on the behalf of a multitude of states in the State of Florida and we actually could actually join that as well. Thus far, neither of these suits have progressed very far and there is certainly more than enough time to get involved.
5. YOU ARE A HUGE 2ND AMENDMENT PROPONENT. CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN THE CONCEPT OF CONCEALED CARRY AND CLEAR UP ANY MISCONCEPTIONS PEOPLE MAY HAVE ABOUT IT?
First with regard to the 2nd Amendment, I'm a huge proponent of it for a number of reasons. First of all I believe in the Rule of Law and it's a significant part of our Constitution. Second of all, of course, when people lose the ability to defend themselves, we become subject to the whims of others who want to violate our freedoms and liberties and we become subject to the whims of government if they are going to abuse their power and authority and so the 2nd Amendment is vitally important to me and we've done a lot in my Administration to advance the cause of gun rights and 2nd Amendment rights in Wisconsin. And I am for concealed carry as well. And I think there's a bit of mis-perception out there that people are in greater danger but in the 48 States that permit law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons, there is absolutely no anecdotal evidence to suggest whatsoever that, that is the case. The opponents of concealed carry will be the first one's to tout examples of problems if there were any. The reality is that Government's role is to protect its citizens and if we have a law in the State of Wisconsin prohibiting law-abiding citizens from carrying concealed weapons, if that is not doing anything to protect citizens, if it's not necessary to protect citizens, then by all means Government should get out of our lives. So I'm a big fan of the 2nd Amendment but I'm also a big fan of making sure the Government doesn't interfere in our lives when they can find or show no legitimate reason to do so. With regards to the Concealed Carry law in Wisconsin right now, there is no justification for it existing.