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‘Racist’ Politician Video Spurs Wisconsin Appeal

MADISON, Wis. (CN) - The Wisconsin Department of Justice appealed an order Friday to release two videos alleged to contain racist and sexist comments made by the Republican candidate for state attorney general.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess had one day earlier ordered the release of the videos, which are being sought by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, but issued a temporary stay so that the state could appeal.

The judge will hold a hearing Monday to determine whether to continue to delay disclosure of the videos.

Democrats claim that the videos show Brad Schimel, a Republican district attorney running for attorney general this year, making "offensive racial remarks and ethnic slurs, including but not limited to stereotyped accents, as well as sexist remarks" during a statewide prosecutors education conference.

In its appeal, the state agency argues that Niess didn't properly weigh the public benefit of releasing the videos against any potential harm caused by their disclosure.

Neiss ruled the videos should be released because the public has a right to know what public officials do or say in their official capacities. He also said that,because the content on the video concerns the investigation and prosecution of child sex offenders, parents might benefit from learning how to better protect their children.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice meanwhile said that Niess should have considered the source of the allegations against Schimel in determining whether the release of the tape was in the public interest.

"A further issue is whether the court improperly gave weight to public interest in discerning whether there is misconduct by public figures when the requesters themselves created the public interest in that controversy and provided no factual basis for it," the state's appeal docketing statement says.

Michael Bauer, attorney for the plaintiffs, said participants in the training sessions told his clients about Schimel's alleged remarks. Under questioning by reporters, however, Bauer declined to identify those individuals.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the filing.

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