MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Amid calls that he drop out of the race, the Democratic candidate for governor Matt Flynn on Monday again defended his work as attorney for the Milwaukee Archdiocese at is mired in a priest-abuse scandal in the 1990s, saying, “I’m not going to apologize for being a good lawyer.”
Flynn, in a telephone news conference call, also defended putting $140,000 of his own money into his campaign, saying, “I’m not apologizing for my money. I made my money.”
Flynn, 70, is one of eight Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the primary election scheduled for Aug. 14. He had the third-largest amount of cash on hand heading into July and was the first candidate to start running television ads last week. The winner of the Democratic primary will advance to face Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, in November.
Flynn’s work for the archdiocese between 1989 and 2004 has dogged him throughout his campaign, with Republicans, victims of abuse and two fellow Democratic lawmakers, along with Women’s March Wisconsin, saying he should drop out. On Monday, the retired Milwaukee priest Domenic Roscioli joined the call for Flynn to drop out.
A group of Wisconsin lawyers have defended Flynn’s work, saying he was fulfilling his duty representing a client.
Flynn has been steadfast in his defense of the work, previously saying that his critics can “jump in the lake.”
Flynn on Monday disputed as “baloney” an account of meetings he had with a former priest in 1993 who was later kicked out of the priesthood amid abuse allegations. Flynn also cited an email he received from former Archbishop Rembert Weakland saying Flynn wasn’t involved in decisions to transfer priests accused of abuse.
Flynn said that, in general, when accusations were made against priests he advised the archdiocese to “follow up on this, investigate it and report it to the police.”
“I wanted them out of the ministry, turned into the police,” he said.
Flynn cited the email from Weakland in which he said “lawyers were not involved” in decisions related to priests accused of pedophilia.
The Wisconsin Republican Party, meanwhile, circulated a letter from 2003 in which the former Milwaukee priest Marvin Knighton described two meetings he had with Flynn in 1993. The meetings were about abuse allegations lodged against Knighton.
Knighton said in the letter from 2003 to then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan that 10 years earlier Flynn had “suggested that we simply wait to see if he would file a report” with a program to help abuse victims. When the accuser didn’t do that, Knighton told him that Flynn said “not to worry about it. He felt that the young man wasn’t going to do anything.”
Flynn disputed Knighton’s account, saying on Monday, “I would never say that, never said that.” Flynn said Knighton “cooks this thing up 10 years later” because he was kicked out of the priesthood and turned over to police.
Although Flynn said he did meet with Knighton and other priests, he never served as their attorneys or gave them legal advice.
In 2002, the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office charged Knighton with second-degree sexual assault of a child. He was acquitted by a jury. The Roman Catholic Church conducted its own canonical trial and found him guilty of two counts of abuse and dismissed him in 2011.