Peg Lautenschlager

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Peg Lautenschlager
Peg Lautenschlager Headshot.jpg
1st Chair of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission
In office
July 11, 2016 – April 8, 2017
Preceded by Commission established
Succeeded by David R. Halbrooks
42nd Attorney General of Wisconsin
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Jim Doyle
Succeeded by J. B. Van Hollen
United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin
In office
October 18, 1993 – 2001
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Kevin C. Potter
Succeeded by J. B. Van Hollen
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 52nd district
In office
January 1, 1989 – January 1, 1993
District Attorney of Winnebago County
In office
July 1985 – December 1988
Appointed by Tony Earl
Preceded by Dee Dyer
Succeeded by Joseph Paulus
Personal details
Peggy Ann Lautenschlager

(1955-11-22)November 22, 1955
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died March 31, 2018(2018-03-31) (aged 62)
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, U.S.
Cause of death Osteosarcoma and breast cancer
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Bill Rippl
Children 5 (including Josh)
Residence Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Peggy Ann Lautenschlager (November 22, 1955 – March 31, 2018)[1] was an American attorney and politician who was the first chair of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.[2][3] She was Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin from January 3, 2003 to January 3, 2007. She succeeded fellow Democrat Jim Doyle when Doyle was elected Governor of Wisconsin in 2002. Lautenschlager was the first woman elected Wisconsin Attorney General.[4]

Lautenschlager's son, Josh Kaul, is the current Wisconsin Attorney General, he was elected in the general election of November 6, 2018.

Early life and career

Lautenschlager was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to Milton Adam "Fritz" Lautenschlager (1926–2012), a sports coach and Patsy Ruth "Pat" (née Oleson).[5] She graduated from Goodrich High School (now Fond du Lac High School) in 1973 as valedictorian of her class.[6] Lautenschlager was a Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude graduate of Lake Forest College, in 1977, majoring in history and mathematics.[6] She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in June 1980.[7]

Public service

After graduation from law school, Lautenschlager was an attorney in private practice in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, specializing in family and domestic abuse law. She served as a member of the adjunct faculties of the University of Wisconsin Law School, the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, and Ripon College, and served as interim circuit court commissioner of Winnebago County.[8]

Lautenschlager was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the Wisconsin State Senate in November 1984, losing the race to incumbent Scott McCallum. Shortly after her defeat, she was appointed by Gov. Tony Earl to serve as District Attorney for Winnebago County, becoming the first woman to hold the office. She served as district attorney from July 1985 to December 1988. Lautenschlager simultaneously served on the Wisconsin State Elections Board, the Governor's Council on Domestic Abuse, the Democratic National Committee and the Oshkosh Rape Crisis Center.[9]

Lautenschlager was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1988, unseating a 32-year Republican incumbent. She served from 1989 to 1993 representing the Fond du Lac area. She chaired the Assembly Select Committee on Drug Enforcement, Education, and Treatment and Subcommittee on Corrections Systems Concerns. She also served on the Committees on Criminal Justice, Elections and Constitutional Law, Environmental Resources, Utilities and Mining, Natural Resources, Judiciary, and Education. She served as Vice-chair of Legislative Counsel Committees on Drug Enforcement and Review of Sexual Assault Laws. She decided not to seek re-election in 1992, and instead campaigned for the congressional seat held by incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Petri. She narrowly lost in what was an unexpectedly close race.[10]

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Lautenschlager the United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, a position for which she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and held until April 2001. In that capacity, she was the chief federal law enforcement officer for the state's westernmost 44 counties. In 1996, Lautenschlager was appointed by Janet Reno to serve on the 15-member Attorney General's Advisory Committee. She was the first Wisconsinite ever selected to serve on the committee.[11][12]

Attorney General of Wisconsin

She was elected in 2002 as a Democrat to the office of Attorney General, succeeding Jim Doyle who successfully ran for governor. Her campaign raised more money than any previous Democratic campaign for that office. She defeated Vince Biskupic, the Republican candidate, 52% to 48%, despite being outspent by about $200,000. During this period she was a practicing lawyer and a part-time politics professor at Ripon College, in addition to serving as Chair of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.[13]

Drunk-driving conviction and other controversy

In February 2004, Lautenschlager pleaded guilty to drunk driving in Dodge County, about an hour away from Madison.[14][15][16] The police report stated that she refused a blood test. Lautenschlager said that she had fallen asleep at the wheel, and had consumed only two glasses of wine earlier that evening.[17] Lautenschlager reimbursed some of the costs and paid a fine of $784. Her driver's license was also revoked for a year.[14]

Also in 2004, a state Ethics Board investigated Lautenschlager's use of her state car, ruling that her personal use of it exceeded state-allowed limits but finding "no corrupt motive or intention to obtain a dishonest advantage".[15][18]

Re-election campaign

In 2006, Lautenschlager faced a Democratic challenger, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, a 2002 candidate for Governor and former Assistant Attorney General. Lautenschlager lost the Democratic nomination to Falk. Falk later lost the general election to former Western District of Wisconsin U.S. Attorney J. B. Van Hollen.[19] Lautenschlager became the first incumbent Wisconsin Attorney General to lose a primary in 58 years.[20]


First diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, Lautenschlager died on March 31, 2018, at her home in Fond du Lac, aged 62.[15][21][22][6]

Electoral history

  • 1992 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 6th District[23]
    • Tom Petri (Republican) (incumbent), 53%
    • Peg Lautenschlager (Democrat), 47%
  • 2002 Race for Attorney General[24]
    • Peg Lautenschlager (Democrat), 52%
    • Vince Biskupic (Republican), 48%
  • 2006 Race for Attorney General – Democratic Primary[25]
    • Kathleen Falk (Democrat), 53%
    • Peg Lautenschlager (Democrat) (incumbent), 47%


  1. ^ "Former Governor Jim Doyle issues statement on former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager death". WMTV. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  2. ^ Mark Sommerhauser. "Ethics Commission chairwoman Peg Lautenschlager resigns". Wisconsin State Journal, April 8, 2017. Accessed November 19, 2017.
  3. ^ "Peg Lautenschlater, Brian Bell chosen to lead new ethics commission". Wisconsin State Journal.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Former attorney general Lautenschlager appointed to Wisconsin ethics panel". March 11, 2016.
  5. ^ "Milton Lautenschlager Obituary". Legacy.
  6. ^ a b c "Peggy Lautenschlager 1955–2018". Fond du Lac Reporter, April 2, 2018.
  7. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (comp.). State of Wisconsin 2003-2004 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization, 2003, p. 6.
  8. ^ Joint Statement of Senator Herb Kohl and Senator Russell D. Feingold Regarding the Appearance of Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager Before the Democratic Policy Committee on Federal Enforcement of the Clean Air Act New Source Review Requirements.
  9. ^ "Congressional Record".
  10. ^ "Wisconsin REALTORS® Association".
  11. ^ "Watch Full Episodes Online of Here and Now on PBS – Peg Lautenschlager Named Chair Of New Ethics Commission".
  12. ^ "#558 AG Reno to visit Wisconsin DOJ's "Handgun Hotline"".
  13. ^ "Ethics Commissioners".
  14. ^ a b "Wisconsin AG guilty of drunken driving". UPI. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c Rick Barrett and Annysa Johnson. "Former state Rep. and Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager has died". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 31, 2018.
  16. ^ "Attorney General Lautenschlager arrested for drunk driving". The Badger Herald. February 25, 2004. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  17. ^ "Lautenschlager: Telling family was hardest". Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  18. ^ "Lautenschlager, ethics board reach settlement". The Badger Herald. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  19. ^ Jeff Mayers. "A Political Melodrama: The Race for the Wisconsin Attorney General". Wisconsin Interest (Winter 2006).
  20. ^ Forster, Stacy (September 13, 2006). "Incumbent is 1st attorney general to lose primary in 58 years". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  21. ^ Opoien, Jessie (March 31, 2018). "Peg Lautenschlager, first woman to serve as Wisconsin attorney general, dies at 62". The Capital Times. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  22. ^ Former Wisconsin AG and FDL Native Peg Lautenschlager Dies,; accessed April 1, 2018.
  23. ^ "92 Presidential and Congressional Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the US House of Representatives. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  24. ^ "Results of Fall General Election – 11/05/2002" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  25. ^ "Results of Fall Primary Election – 09/12/2006" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved April 2, 2018.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Jim Doyle
Attorney General of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
J. B. Van Hollen
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