Van Hollen removed as counsel in bill issue

Van Hollen

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has agreed to step down as Secretary of State Doug La Follette's legal counsel in an ongoing court battle over Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining bill.

Van Hollen made it official in a stipulation regarding substitution of counsel filed Thursday, said Steve Means, a spokesman with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

On March 29, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said La Follette should have counsel other than the DOJ, Means explained.

The department, Sumi said, had a conflict of interest in representing the secretary of state.

La Follette, according to an April 6 court filing, also took issue with Van Hollen's appeal of Sumi's March 18 ruling, which will not allow La Follette to publish the law. Sumi says a legislative committee violated the state's Open Meetings Law when it approved a new version of the Walker's budget bill on March 9.

The bill has been a source of controversy for months now, eliminating nearly all collective bargaining rights for those public employee union members. The Republican governor had proposed the bill in response to state budget deficits.

The state Supreme Court will most likely end up deciding the issue.

La Follette said in his filing that the attorney general's appeal conflicts "with the constitutional and statutory responsibilities, mandates, duties and prerogatives of the Office of the Secretary of State."

The secretary of state has hired a new attorney, Roger Sage, according to Thursday's stipulation.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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