The Calumet County Sheriff’s race is catching more than just Wisconsin attention after Republican candidate Mark Wiegert, known for his role in the popular Netflix docuseries “Making a Murderer,” was revealed to have signed and circulated a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker in 2011.
Despite running as a Republican, an article by the Appleton Post Crescent revealed that by searching on iverifytherecall.com Wiegert had signed the petition to recall Walker in 2011. Wiegert also signed as “certification of circulator” of the petition which said, “I personally circulated this recall petition and personally obtained each of the signatures on this paper…”
Wiegert is running against New Holstein Police Captain Jeff Hebl in the Republican primary on August 14th.
While many have criticized Wiegert for signing the petition, Wiegert stated in a response to the Post Crescent article that at the time he believed that it was the best decision for his family:
“First, I voted for Gov. Walker in his first bid for governor because I believe in what he stands for. Then, eight years ago, there were several changes proposed by his office that I thought would directly impact my family and my livelihood. I did what I thought was best at that time and signed his recall petition. My wife and I had a young child, and I believed I was protecting my family and finances, as any father and provider would do.”
Media Trackers reached out to Wiegert for additional comments on the criticism he has received surrounding the recall petition signature. He replied that his conservative roots should solidify his Republican identity, while at the same time he criticized his opponent Hebl for “blasting” current elected Calumet Republicans:
“Let me go back a little bit, I’ve been a Republican my whole life. I was raised a conservative. I’m a second-generation police officer raised in a conservative family. I’ve always identified Republican and voted Republican, and as I said in the article I did vote for the governor the first time and I will vote for him again.”
“I have nothing but respect for the governor. It was a different time frame, it was eight years ago. The problem I have now is that my opponent who calls himself the true Republican is now, for lack of a better word, blasting all the Republicans in Calumet county, all the elected officials, the sheriff, all the previous sheriff’s were Republican. And he’s doing that now, I did something eight years ago and I learned from it and I moved on. So I’m wondering how anyone can call themselves Republican when they do that, that’s very upsetting to me. I did something eight years ago and I learned from that mistake. He is doing it now, today.”
To voters who may be skeptical of Wiegert’s political affiliation in light of his decision to sign the petition to recall Walker, he suggested voters should look closely at both campaigns and again criticized his opponent for “blasting” other Republicans:
“I would ask them to take a look at both of the people who are running. Take a look at the campaigns that they are running. Take a look at who has endorsed me. It’s all Republicans that have endorsed me. I would have them take a look at how my opponent is, for lack of a better word, blasting the Republicans who have endorsed me. If you were a true Republican you wouldn’t do that, but he is. I would ask them to take a look at my record, what I’ve done in my career compared to him. I have worked on multiple homicides, sexual assaults, burglaries, robberies. He’s done none of that.”
“Anybody that knows me knows I’m a conservative. Take a look at what’s happening today versus what happened eight years ago. In my opinion I’m the only true Republican running, because if anyone was a Republican right now they wouldn’t be blasting the current Republicans who were voted in by the voters at this time.”
Media Trackers also reached out to Wiegert’s opponent Jeff Hebl for comment, who expressed his disbelief in an email response that Wiegert would circulate the petition to recall Walker and denied having “blasted” his Republican colleagues:
“Circulating the recall petition against one of the most popular governors in the United States is a big deal, and Mr. Wiegert knows that, so he ducked the issue as long as he could, until forced into a public statement. He NEVER apologized for his circulating the petition and gave a tacit admission that he was wrong about Act 10. As soon as one of local Republican’s publicly denounces Mr. Wiegert for ANYTHING he has said or done during this campaign, I will applaud them. But, I’d like to see where I have, anywhere, “blasted” my local Republican colleagues. ANYWHERE. Mr. Wiegert has just been caught in a lie to another publication, so I generally take anything he says with the proverbial ‘grain of salt.’”
Hebl also said that in a recent Appleton Post Crescent article, Wiegert made “slanderous allegations” that Hebl had been disciplined during his time with the New Holstein Police Department. Wiegert’s allegations have been proven inaccurate and the story has been updated:
Editor’s note: A previous digital version of this story included an accusation by Wiegert that Hebl “has been disciplined multiple times” during his time with the New Holstein Police Department. Hebl denied ever being disciplined. New Holstein Police Chief Brian Reedy confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Hebl has no disciplinary records in his personnel file at New Holstein.
In response to the article, Hebl issued a statement on Thursday questioning whether Wiegert violated the Calumet County Sheriff’s Department policies on honesty and has consulted an attorney regarding Wiegert’s unsubstantiated allegation.
Bringing additional interest to this race is the fact that Wiegert was part of the popular Netflix docuseries, “Making a Murderer.” The techniques used by Wiegert and his fellow investigator Tom Fassbendera to obtain a confession from a 16-year-old Brendan Dassey has become controversial. In a recent article, The New York times claimed that Wiegert and Fassbendera “teased out contradictory statements from Mr. Dassey, steering him toward their theory of the case.” However, Wiegert told the Appleton Post Crescent that,”the convictions have been upheld on appeal and have been deemed ‘a good arrest and a good prosecution.’”
Sam Morateck is a reporter with Media Trackers. Reposted here with permission.