Eau Claire County DA Gary King submits resignation

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 12:21 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The District Attorney for Eau Claire County is resigning.

Gary King, who has been the DA in Eau Claire Co. since being elected to the post in 2012, announced in a letter to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers that he would be resigning effective August 14.

King, who is under investigation by the governor’s office for alleged misconduct, cited a difficult work environment brought forth by the charges against him as well as the toll of working long hours during his time as DA. King wrote that he is seeking professional assistance to address his health.

In the letter, King writes that he “takes great issue” with the charges made against him, saying that the individuals making the claims never expressed them directly to him. King is accused of sexual harassment as well as being intoxicated at work.

“I take great issue with the claims that have been made. It is noteworthy that none of these concerns about my work performance were ever expressed to me by these individuals – not during their time in the office, not upon their departure from the office, nor in the several months since their respective departures.”

Gary King, Eau Claire Co. DA

King also touted the work performance of the Eau Claire Co. DA Office and wrote that the staff is poised to continue to do “excellent work and seek justice on a daily basis.”

On June 18, Gov. Evers appointed William Ramsey as commissioner to investigate the charges made against King for inappropriate conduct. Ramsey is the deputy chief legal counsel at the Wisconsin Dept. of Administration.

Former Dane County District Attorney Hal Harlowe was representing King in the investigation by the Governor’s Office, and in a media release said that King’s decision was due to the potential disruption to the work of the DA’s office caused by the investigation. Harlowe also echoed King’s comments about the work performance of the office, describing King’s work ethic, public service, and performance “unimpeachable” and wrote that King “served the people of the Eau Claire community well.”

“After a decade of extensive hours and giving all he had to the job, leaving this position is also in his best interests. People both in and outside of the office say that for ten years Gary devoted all he had to the job, working absurdly long hours, never taking a vacation or stepping away from the pressure-cooker stress inherent in such a position.

“Although it comes at great personal cost, Gary will now have an opportunity to turn attention towards his personal health and wellbeing, while working in the private sector.”

Hal Harlowe

Eau Claire Co. DA Office Manager Eric Huse says that unless they receive different instruction from Gov. Evers, King will remain DA until his resignation becomes official August 14. Between now and then, Huse says that the time will be spent reassigning King’s cases to others in the office, including the assistant DAs.

Because the news is so recent, Huse doesn’t know who will be taking over as Eau Clare Co. DA next month. Huse says there could be a special election to fill King’s term, which runs through 2024, or the governor may appoint someone else to the position.

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. Gov. Evers received the charges on June 3.

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.

In his resignation letter, King apologized for any instances in which his conduct fell short of what was expected of him.

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

In the past 25 years, only once has a sitting Wisconsin 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.

As of Friday evening, it is not clear whether the governor’s office will continue with the investigation. King declined an interview with WEAU.

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