The father of two prominent Republican lawmakers is a contender for the state’s highest law enforcement position.
Stephen Fitzgerald is seeking to become the head of the Wisconsin State Patrol. Fitzgerald has two sons, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon.
The two lawmakers’ father has many years of experience in law enforcement.
Stephen Fitzgerald began his law enforcement career as a police officer in Chicago from 1966 to 1974. He then moved to Wisconsin, where he became chief of police in the village of Hustisford, an hour north east of Madison. He served there until 1979, when he became the Dodge County Sheriff, his wife Bonnie Fitzgerald said.
In 2002, former President George W. Bush appointed Stephen Fitzgerald to U.S. Marshal for the Western district of Wisconsin, Bonnie Fitzgerald said.
After his position with the U.S. Marshals ended, Stephen Fitzgerald ran for his old job as Dodge County Sheriff against Todd Nehlf, who had taken up the sheriff position when Stephen Fitzgerald left in 2002.
The people of Dodge County voted Nehlf in over Stephen Fitzgerald.
“Fitzgerald came back with his intent of running for sheriff in September. I guarded 68 percent of the vote while Fitzgerald had 32 percent. The people of Dodge County spoke very strongly, and they were very vocal on who they wanted,” Nehlf said.
He added that he would expect the person who gets appointed to head of the state patrol should be the most educated person in the business, which Nehlf said Stephen Fitzgerald may not be.
Some Wisconsin Democrats said the Fitzgerald brothers are helping their father to get the position with state patrol and think Gov. Scott Walker already has his mind made up.
“I question whether best practices were followed in giving him this position. He may be perfectly qualified, but there are certainly enough Fitzgeralds in power already,” Graeme Zielinski, Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said.
He added that a man with sons occupying powerful seats in both houses of Legislature may not be the person Wisconsin wants as its head police officer, as it is not healthy when power is held in one place or by one family.
While Scott Fitzgerald has extensive experience in Wisconsin politics, he did not want to comment on his father’s chances.