MADISON, Wis. — A group backing Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel launched a new television ad Tuesday implying that Schimel had a major hands-on role in upgrading school security this summer when he was actually following legislators' orders.
The Republican Attorneys General Association is running the ad on cable television in Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Wausau. It's part of RAGA's $2.5 million television campaign to help Schimel defeat Democratic challenger Josh Kaul in November.
The ad features three women identified on-screen only by first name and last initial. On-screen wording says all three are mothers. They each talk about how Schimel has worked to protect schools. One of the mothers, identified as Trisha I., says Schimel installed new school security features and added $100 million to protect schools.
"I know Wisconsin schools are safer because of what Brad Schimel is doing as attorney general," another mother, identified as Trisha T., says at the end of the ad.
The ad makes it sound as though Schimel is directing school districts on which safety features to install, but that's not the case.
Gov. Scott Walker unveiled legislation in March following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, creating $100 million in school security grants. The Legislature overwhelmingly approved the bill.
The measure put Schimel in charge of divvying out the grants. School districts must present plans for upgrading security to win any money.
Schimel has held multiple news conferences around the state to announce recipients. He was due to visit New Berlin West High School Monday afternoon to view improvements the grants made possible at that school.
Kaul said in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that the state must do more to address school safety. He called for universal background checks, a ban on bump-stocks and more funding for mental health programs in schools.
Kaul campaign spokeswoman Gillian Drummond said Schimel must be in trouble if RAGA needs to spend millions convincing voters he has kept Wisconsin safe.
RAGA spokesman Zack Roday said the ad isn't misleading. He said the grants were created with input from a number of stakeholders, including Gov. Scott Walker, school officials and Schimel.
"(Schimel) has absolutely led on it," Roday said in a telephone interview.
He said the women in the ad are not actors but real Wisconsin mothers. He declined to divulge their last names, however, saying he wants to protect their privacy.
The attorney general's campaign manager, Johnny Koremenos, didn't immediately reply to emails Monday morning.