EAU CLAIRE — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers will appoint a special commissioner to hold a hearing on Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King’s behavior, a step that could lead to an attempt to remove King from office.
Concerns about King’s behavior became public last week after incidents both in the courtroom and the district attorney’s office. Coworkers accused King of sexually harassing a woman. An independent investigation by the county led County Administrator Kathryn Schauf to send King a letter instructing him not to have individual contact with employees.
“When these employees are in the office, you are not to have any direct one-to-one contact with them until further notice,” Schauf wrote. “In addition, you are not to approach or question any Eau Claire County employee regarding this investigation or take any retaliatory action against any Eau Claire County employee who you may perceive to be a part of this investigation or believe may have made allegations against you.”
King’s courtroom behavior has also been under scrutiny. Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer submitted a report in February after he saw King behaving oddly, and a hearing last week was postponed after a judge ordered King to have a breath test for alcohol and received the results.
The commissioner will have the authority to determine whether investigations are needed and will report on the findings.
Wisconsin law does allow for a governor to remove a district attorney, but only for cause. It requires “written verified charges” brought by a taxpayer who lives in the area covered by the attorney, followed by “a speedy public hearing” which must allow for presentation of a defense.
Witnesses at the hearing are not allowed to assert a Fifth Amendment right to silence, but neither can a witness be prosecuted for anything they say aside from perjury.