The Office of Lawyer Regulation has dismissed a complaint accusing Dem Susan Happ of a conflict of interest for how her office handled the case of a man facing sexual assault charges while he had a land deal with the Jefferson County DA and her husband.
Happ’s campaign on Monday released the OLR letter in which intake investigator Cathe Hahn wrote there was not “a sufficient basis to proceed” on the complaint filed by the victim in the case. Hahn also wrote the original complaint did not offer sufficient proof that Happ violated any rules of professional conduct.
Happ (left) has argued she handed off the case to an assistant and took necessary steps to wall herself off from the investigation, which has become an issue in the AG’s race. Hahn’s letter said if Happ was “timely screened” from the case she would not have violated conflict of interest rules, and attorneys for both Happ and Assistant DA Monica Hall said that happened.
There are a few things that stink about this. First, the OLR has been complaining of an unsustainable backlog of cases with a record number of cases at least one year old. And yet they managed to take up Happ’s case, investigate it, and clear it within a month. That means that someone at that office decided to prioritize Happ’s case above a lot of other cases. Why? Was it to head off this damaging political story before the election?
Second, the investigator from OLR signed the Walker recall petition. While that was certainly her right, it hardly leads an honest observer to believe that she is a dispassionate investigator when looking into the Democratic candidate for Attorney General.
Third, what was actually investigated? The story says that “Happ was “timely screened” from the case she would not have violated conflict of interest rules, and attorneys for both Happ and Assistant DA Monica Hall said that happened.” So Happ and her ADA both said that they followed the rules. Of course they did. Did the investigator actually investigate their assertions? Did she dig into their emails and phone records? Did she interview other people in the office? Did she interview the victim and her lawyer? What about the perpetrator and his lawyer? Court personnel? Just how much investigating did Hahn actually do in the month between when the complaint was filed and when she issued her opinion? According to her actual letter, the answer is no. All Hahn did was talk to Happ and here ADA’s lawyers and just took their word for it. No wonder it only took a month. With that kind of “investigating,” all she needed was an afternoon.
None of this changes the truth what actually happened. Happ’s office delayed and eventually reduced the charges to a slap on the wrist for a man accused of repeated sexual assault of a child. And this happened at a time when Happ was receiving money from the accused man as part of a land deal. Whatever some joke investigator for the OLR says, that ain’t right.