Gov. Evers to appoint commissioner to investigate Eau Claire Co. DA

Gov. Evers to appoint commissioner to investigate Eau Claire Co. DA
Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 3:55 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 3:58 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is appointing a commissioner to conduct a hearing on charges against Eau Claire Co. District Attorney Gary King.

The commissioner will also determine any necessary investigation and report the testimony.

Under Wisconsin law, the only way a governor can remove a DA is for cause. Removal is only possible after verified charges from a county taxpayer and a public hearing. Wisconsin law also provides for the governor to appoint a commissioner to conduct the hearing, make an investigation, and report findings to the governor, who will make the ultimate decision.

Two of King’s former colleagues wrote to Gov. Evers, asking for King’s removal from office. The first letter was written by former Eau Claire County Assistant District Attorney Loralee Clark, who is retired after working as a prosecutor for 33 years. She worked in the Eau Claire DA’s office from 2009 through July 2020. The second was from Ellen Anderson who worked in the DA’s office with King from 2011 through February 2020.

Anderson says in her years of working with King, there were concerns of him being under the influence at the office and claims she saw him sleeping in meetings and court proceedings. She writes the DA would interfere in cases in which a former colleague acted as defense attorney.

“I witnessed DA King’s erratic behavior and displays of temper. He sought to intimidate staff, wasted their time by planting himself in their offices spending hours discussing Seinfeld episodes or sports, and then berated them for not being on top of their caseloads,” Anderson wrote.

Loralee Clark described similar behavior and writes she too saw King fall asleep frequently. She says King would distract his employees and then criticize them for being able to complete their work.

“I am utterly heart sick at the conditions under which my former colleagues are trying to work,” Clark wrote in her letter to Evers.

In March, a third party investigator concluded King did make inappropriate comments to female staff members after one employee filed a complaint with the human resources department.

Eau Claire Co. Sheriff Ron Cramer also responded to a February incident in which King appeared to be intoxicated while at work. At that time, King refused to take an alcohol breath test. The Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office reported that District Attorney Gary King appeared to be intoxicated at work after deputies performed a welfare check on June 1, the second welfare check performed by the sheriff’s office after colleagues accused King of working while intoxicated. Documents from the sheriff’s office show a breath test was administered to King and the reading came back at .047, showing alcohol in his system.

According to a process outlined in state statute, in order to begin to investigate the allegations against King, he needed a letter from an Eau Claire County resident like Loralee Clark. In the past 25 years, only once has a sitting governor attempted to remove a District Attorney from office. In 2010, Former governor Jim Doyle initiated a process to remove former Calumet County DA Ken Kratz from office in the fall of 2010. Kratz resigned before that process could take place.

King was first elected to the position of District Attorney in 2012. He ran unopposed and was re-elected last year. His current term runs through 2024.

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