Wisconsin's Mandela Barnes Blames False Police Endorsement on 'Clerical Error'

Mandela Barnes (Getty Images)
September 20, 2022

A sheriff’s captain on Monday denied that he endorsed Democratic Wisconsin Senate candidate Mandela Barnes and asked the campaign to remove his name from the sparse list of law enforcement endorsements that Barnes released last week.

Barnes’s campaign took responsibility for the mistake, telling the Washington Free Beacon that La Crosse County sheriff’s captain John Siegel’s name was included on the list due to a "clerical error from our staff."

The endorsement blunder comes as Barnes has been fighting perceptions that he is anti-police, and as his opponent, Republican senator Ron Johnson, has been drawing support from law enforcement groups like the National Border Patrol Council. The lack of endorsements indicates that the law enforcement community has concerns about Barnes’s far-left positions on crime and his work with "defund the police" activist groups.

Barnes released a list of nine current or retired law enforcement officers who publicly support him last week, which included just two who are actively serving.

But Siegel, one of those two active officers, claims he never endorsed Barnes and has reportedly been scrambling to get his name removed from the list.

"I have not endorsed anybody. I spent most of my day Friday trying to get a hold of people asking how did this happen," Siegel told Wisconsin Right Now.

A spokeswoman for Barnes confirmed the error in a statement.

"As Captain Siegel said, due to a clerical error from our staff, there was a mistake in our initial list," the Barnes campaign told the Free Beacon. "The error has been corrected on our website. The Lt. Governor is proud to be endorsed by a coalition of over a dozen members of law enforcement across the state including the Sheriffs of Rock County and Green County."

Racine County deputy sheriff Malik Frazier, the only other active-duty law enforcement officer included in Barnes’s endorsement announcement on Friday, was also removed from an updated list without explanation. The Racine sheriff’s office did not respond to a request for comment from the Free Beacon.

Knudson's secretary said the sheriff is out of the office today and unable to confirm or comment on the endorsement.

Barnes’s campaign announced additional endorsements on Monday, bringing his list of active-duty law enforcement supporters back up to two. One is the outgoing Rock County sheriff Troy Knudson, who is retiring this year, and the other is Green County sheriff Jeff Skatrud. Skatrud did not respond to a request for comment.