Last month, a milestone of sorts was reached as the state Justice Department's investigation into misconduct allegations against a former Dane County prosecutor entered its third year.
The probe was requested by then-District Attorney Brian Blanchard in October 2008, after concerns were raised about Assistant D.A. Mike Verveer's contacts with criminal defendants. Verveer, a longtime Madison alderperson, was asked to leave the office over this issue. He learned of the probe a few months later from a Wisconsin State Journal reporter.
Verveer declared at the time and has always maintained that he did nothing improper. But the Justice Department has never reached any finding.
"It's close," department spokesman Bill Cosh told Isthmus on Sept. 29, 2009. "It will possibly be done this week; if not this week, we're hoping next." That was more than 13 months ago.
A year ago, on Nov. 10, Cosh told Isthmus that his office, on reviewing a draft report, had "follow-up questions" but was "getting close" to wrapping things up.
Last March, The Capital Times editorially bashed this delay, pegging it as an example of how Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has politicized the office, and saying the investigation "has always seemed like more of a witch hunt than a serious inquiry."
That was nearly eight months ago; Van Hollen was easily reelected last week. Now Cosh has ceased speculating about an end point, saying only that the matter "is still under investigation."
Meantime, the uncompleted probe continues to hang over Verveer's head. Both Verveer and Blanchard, now an appellate court judge, declined to comment.
Asked if the delay is unfair, Cosh says his office is always mindful of "reputational concerns" but adds that the probe "does not impact any job actions against Mr. Verveer. Those decisions have already been made." He also defended the length of time taken, saying "we do what is needed to complete a fair and proper investigation."