Allegations against Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, for improper behavior in his position as a Dane County assistant district attorney are currently being investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, according to an exclusive report by the Wisconsin State Journal.
District Attorney Brian Blanchard confirmed Verveer took a leave of absence in October and said he does not anticipate Verveer will be returning to work as an ADA in an e-mail to The Badger Herald.
“I am not commenting on the reason(s) for his departure, nor am I commenting on the state Department of Justice investigation,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard told the WSJ the Department of Justice investigation began the same day his office received a complaint regarding Verveer’s conduct as an ADA, after which Verveer took an unpaid leave of absence.
Verveer told the WSJ he took the leave of absence because he was “very burned out.”
The WSJ conducted interviews with the woman who filed the complaint against Verveer as well as her relatives, two defendants, who described Verveer as “an assistant district attorney who sometimes blurred the lines between prosecuting defendants and helping them.”
“All I’m going to say is I cooperated with the Wisconsin State Journal investigation. I gave my side… and I have nothing to add to it at this time,” Verveer said in an interview with The Badger Herald.
Verveer told the WSJ he has yet to be interviewed by anyone at the Justice Department, adding he does not think his actions were unethical or illegal on any terms.
In an interview conducted by WSJ with the woman and her relatives — who wished to remain anonymous — all said Verveer made multiple calls to the men regarding their DUIs and other charges. Verveer also met with one of the men in a downtown bar while his case was still pending.
However, Verveer told the WSJ he treated these defendants like he treats everyone else, adding he returned the calls of the defendants seeking assistance like any other prosecutor would do.
Verveer, who has been on the Madison City Council as the District 4 alder since 1995 and has served as president of the City Council twice throughout his tenure, is currently running unopposed for reelection in April.
Rachel Strauch-Nelson, spokesperson for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, said, the mayor’s attorneys had advised his office not to comment on the matter in an e-mail to The Badger Herald and could not comment on whether this incident will affect Verveer’s re-election.
Ald. Michael Schumacher, District 18, and Verveer’s colleague on the Alcohol License Review Committee, said he did not know of Verveer’s suspension until officer Carrie Hemming of the MPD filed a report accusing Verveer of being in a room smelling of marijuana at Zander’s Sports Bar last month.
Schumacher said it is important to keep in mind the investigation is still pending, adding making premature decisions would not be fair to Verveer.
“I’m more concerned how this might impact him and his ability to be a council alderman and being able to represent his constituency when he has this investigation/cloud hanging over him,” Schumacher said.