DPI candidate Lowell Holtz used school email for political letter – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
State Schools Superintendent candidate Lowell Holtz used his taxpayer funded email account to draft a political note that sought support and name dropped a host of top Republicans, including Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly leader Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
The email was released Saturday by One Wisconsin Now, a liberal interest group that obtained the communication in an open records request.
Holtz, the former Whitnall school superintendent, is seeking to unseat incumbent Tony Evers to head the state Department of Public Instruction.
The email was dated May 25, 2016, and time stamped at 1:43 p.m., in the middle of the school day. It was sent by Holtz to his wife, Susan, and was a draft of note he wanted to send to a woman named Diane asking “if you would share some of your expertise and advice with our committee.”
Holtz added that he wanted to discuss “some of the issues we want to emphasize that align with the Governor’s thoughts on career and technical education, business partnerships, common core, state-wide testing, and the expansion of vouchers.”
Diane’s full name was not used.
In the email, Holtz described some of the political moves he had made prior to his entry into the race. He said he spoke at numerous events, including a Milwaukee Republican caucus where he said Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. “stated that the party needed to get behind my candidacy.”
He said similar remarks were made by Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Vos.
Holtz wrote that Don Pridemore, a former state legislator who ran against Evers in the previous cycle, helped connect him to Matt Batzel, the Wisconsin-based national executive director of the conservative organizing group American Majority.
“Matt led the charge to help Governor Walker by getting over 100,000 Government workers to Choose Feedom from Unions in Wisconsin,” Holtz wrote, adding that Batzel met with his exploratory campaign committee several times and provided a campaign plan.
When reached for comment Saturday, Batzel said he was unfamiliar with the email. He said the campaign plan that was referenced was likely a sample draft plan that the group provides at training sessions and that is available on the group’s website.
“We don’t endorse candidates ever,” he said.
The Holtz campaign did not address the contents of the note. Instead, Holtz criticized Evers’ tenure and said: “I have a proven track record of improving school and district performance, and look forward to taking that track record across the state.”
Amanda Brink, Evers’ campaign manager, said the emails show “that while he was superintendent, Holtz was using tax-payer funded school resources and time to solicit campaign contributions and support from high level Republican donors.”
“It is clear that voters can’t trust Lowell Holtz to provide them with the full story. I’m almost afraid to ask: what will we find out next?”
Jenni Dye, research director of One Wisconsin Now, said the email “Shows Lowell Holtz was once again using public resources scheming to solicit support for his campaign. Every rock we turn over, we find that instead of doing his job to support kids in our public schools, Lowell Holtz is engaged in another unethical attempt to advance his own political ambitions.”
The non-partisan election will be held April 4.