Evers refusing to let attorney general represent him

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — State Superintendent Tony Evers, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Tuesday he refuses to be represented by the Republican-led Wisconsin Department of Justice in a lawsuit challenging his independence.

Evers said he was firing Attorney General Brad Schimel over what he characterized as a conflict of interest, but Schimel’s spokesman said he would not step aside. That sets up what could be a protracted separate legal fight over who should represent Evers in the case.

At the heart of the underlying lawsuit is the latest battle in a decades-long fight over the constitutional powers of the state superintendent of public instruction, a position Evers has held for nearly nine years. But the drama that played out Tuesday oozes with political intrigue given that Evers is a Democratic candidate looking to challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker next year.

A newly enacted state law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Walker, requires all state agency rules to be approved by the governor. Rules are the legal language that enacts laws and policies and giving the governor veto authority over what an agency does increases his oversight and power over their actions.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty last week filed a lawsuit directly with the state Supreme Court. It alleges that the Department of Public Instruction, which Evers runs as state superintendent, has been writing administrative rules without permission of Walker’s administration in violation of the new law.

Walker last week ordered the Justice Department to represent Evers in the case.