Brad Schimel

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Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel

Brad Schimel was the 44th Attorney General of Wisconsin until he was defeated by Democrat Josh Kaul in 2018.[1] Schimel was initially elected as AG on November 4, 2014 after defeating Democrat Susan Happ. Schimel previously served as District Attorney for Waukesha County, Wisconsin.

On November 20, 2018, outgoing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appointed Schimel to a judgeship in Waukesha County.[2]

News and Controversty

Appointent to Waukesha Court

On November 20, 2018, Scott Walker announced Schimel's appointment as a Waukesha County Circuit Court judge. Democratic state legislators called foul play on the move, state Rep. Evan Goyke described the appointment as indicative of "what people hate about politics." The appointment came after both Walker and Schimel lost their bids for re-election to Tony Evers and Josh Kaul respectively.[3] Patrick Haughney, who had served as Waukesha County Circuit Judge since 1996, had his resignation made effective November 6.

Voter ID Comments

Schimel argued that Donald Trump and Sen. Ron Johnson would not have won their elections if Wisconsin did not have strict voter ID laws on a radio segment in April 2018. “How many of your listeners really, honestly, are sure that Sen. Johnson was going to win re-election or President Trump was going to win Wisconsin if we didn’t have voter ID to keep Wisconsin’s elections clean and honest and have integrity?” he asked WISN-AM radio host Vicki McKenna. Schimel's supported voter ID laws were called "a cure worse than the disease" by a Wisconsin Judge who found that "Wisconsin's voting laws discriminated against minorities and labeled the voter ID law that tried to address 'mostly phantom voter fraud.'" according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.[4] Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now remarked that Schimel's statement was an admission that voter ID is meant solely to help Republicans.[5]

Allegations of Intention to Illegally Not Disclose Attendance at "Hate Group" Meeting

Schimel attended the 2017 Alliance Defending Freedom conference in California. ADF is a group which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a "hate group" for their support of "the recriminalization of homosexuality," defense of state-sanctioned "sterilization of trans people abroad," claims of links between homosexuality and pedophilia and fearmongering about the “homosexual agenda” destroying society. According to One Wisconsin Now, attendees were urged to keep attendance at the meeting private. By agreeing to do so, i.e. telling an aide, “I do not plan to have any portion of it become public information” the week prior, One Wisconsin Now alleges Schimel was evading Wisconsin's open records law.[6]

Schimel accepted $4,000 worth of coverage for his expenses from ADF, while Deputy Solicitor General Kevin LeRoy, who attended the summit with Schimel, used public money to foot the bill.[7]

Schimel refuted the allegation that ADF was a hate group. He cited ADF's involvement in the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court case, where a baker refused on make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on First Amendment claims of free speech and free exercise of religion. Schimel said “There’s nothing anti-gay" about ADF's involment in that case.

Schimel's DOJ Spends $80,000 on Swag and other Promotional Materials

Department of Justice records obtained by One Wisconsin Now reveal that Attorney General Brad Schimel has bought over $80,000 worth of promotional material with public funds.[8] One Wisconsin Now's Mike Browne writes, "Responsive documents provided by DOJ reveal that, including the coins, a total of over $80,000 was spent on promotional materials like stress balls, coffee mugs and tumblers, candy, pens and flashlights. Schimel’s department even purchased custom fortune cookies to provide recipients with inspiring messages like, “Say ‘Hello’ to others. You will have a happier day” and “The time is right to make new friends.”"[8]

According to the One Wisconsin Now press release, the organization requested the DOJ records following a Journal Sentinel story revealing that Schimel's office spent $10,000 of public funds on commemorative coins. Bice writes,

"Attorney General Brad Schimel is really proud of the motto he coined for his agency: "Kicking Ass Every Day" — or KAED, as he likes to sign off his emails to staff. So impressed is Schimel with his mildly crude, get-tough motto that he ordered 2,000 challenge coins with the acronym on them. The 1.75-inch gold-plated brass souvenirs read "Wisconsin Attorney General Brad D. Schimel" on one side and "Wisconsin Department of Justice: K.A.E.D." on the other. The state seal appears on the medallions."[9]

View the complete list of items Schimel purchased here.

New Data Shows Schimel's Office Slow to Prosecute Serious Crimes

While Schimel spent millions creating a position for a new Solicitor General to defend GOP gerrymandering and to engage in right-wing ideological cases nation-wide, Schimel’s office has been incompetent in processing a long list of crimes according to data in a 2018 state Department of Justice report obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request. The report shows that “turnaround times for the testing of DNA, guns, tool marks and drug compositions have grown dramatically since Schimel took office in January 2015." [10]

“According to the DOJ’s most recent annual crime lab report, from 2015 through 2017:

—The average turnaround time for DNA testing jumped from 43 days to 76 days. DNA submissions increased about 29 percent.

—The average turnaround time for gun testing increased from 113 days to 171 days even though submissions dropped by 20, from 728 in 2015 to 708 in 2017.

—Turnaround time for tool mark analysis grew from 277 days to 511 days, even though tool mark submissions decreased from 34 in 2015 to 18 in 2017.

—Turnaround time for drug testing nearly doubled, from 42 days to 80 days. Submissions increased by about 12 percent over the three years.” [10]

James O'Keefe, Who Pled Guilty in Federal Case, Threatens AG Schimel into Flip Flop on Project Veritas Video

James O'Keefe

In October 2016 James O'Keefe, a widely discredited video attack dog published video through his group Project Veritas showing Democratic political operatives in bars discussing the use inappropriate and potentially illegal campaign tactics with unidentified persons posing as funders. The video does not contain evidence that any of the campaign activities discussed were actually undertaken. In 2017, O'Keefe was sued for breaking federal and local wiretap law in the incident.[11]

After a review of the facts in the case, Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte wrote in a memo: "Based on all the available facts I do not believe there is any basis to conclude that the videos demonstrate or suggest violations of Wisconsin criminal laws... The conversations remain best described as vague and theoretical in many respects... There are no clear or direct statements indicating that voter fraud (bringing in out of state voters) was planned or had occurred."[12]

On April 27, 2017 O'Keefe released a four-minute video attacking Schimel personally for failing to prosecute and threatening to target the Attorney General himself. "We should investigate you and you should lose your job."[13] The O'Keefe tirade was enough to push Schimel to change his stance writes Bruce Murphy of Urban Milwaukee. "He went on conservative talker Mark Belling’s show and announced that the investigation his office had previously announced was over was actually still continuing. Schimel added that 'I appreciate the work that groups like Project Veritas do to expose corruption and criminal conspiracies,' wrongly suggesting the group’s accusations had actually led to anyone being charged with a crime."[14]

Ironically, O'Keefe himself has been charged and prosecuted by federal officials. He and three others pled guilty in 2010 after they engaged in an effort to trespass and bug the offices of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu went awry.

"Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles III sentenced Stan Dai, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan each to two years probation, a fine of $1,500 and 75 hours of community service during their first year of probation.James O'Keefe, as leader of the group and famous for posing aa pimp in ACORN office videos, received three years of probation, a fine of $1,500 and 100 hours of community service," reported the New Orleans paper at the time.[15]

Previously, O'Keefe paid $100,000 in 2013 to settle a lawsuit filed by Juan Carlos Vera, a former employee of ACORN. The lawsuit alleged that O'Keefe and his associate filmed Vera in the San Diego ACORN offices without his consent, a violation of California law, and portrayed him untruthfully.[16]

Silent on Repeal of Student Loan Protections

On April 24, 2017 a coalition of 21 Attorney's General penned a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stating their opposition to the Trump Administration's repeal of protections for student loan borrowers.[17]

In press release, One Wisconsin Now noted "missing from the effort to protect student loan borrowers is Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. 'With his inaction Brad Schimel is taking the side of Donald Trump, a guy who settled a lawsuit for $25 million over his scam university, instead of standing with 21 fellow Attorneys General and fighting for the best interests of student loan borrowers,' commented (executive director Scot) Ross. Donald Trump, who settled a class action lawsuit brought by students of his Trump 'University' for $25 million days before his January inauguration, and his administration are repealing consumer protections for student loan borrowers by allowing debt collectors to charge borrowers exorbitant fees on top of their loan payments. In addition, rules requiring companies that service student loans to prioritize helping borrowers and abide by basic consumer service and protection standards in order to win federal contracts are also being repealed."[18]

Schimel Settles Case Against Polluter Without Fine

On March 29, 2017 the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Brad Schimel reached a settlement with 3M Company over pollution violations without fining the company. "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which first reported on the 3M deal, quoted Tom Dawson, who supervised the Justice Department environment unit from 2003 until he retired last year, saying he and others pushed for a fine between $100,000 and $1 million but Schimel’s chief of staff directed them to require only the supplemental environmental project."

Settling a serious violation without a fine is unusual, according to three former DNR secretaries that the Wisconsin State Journal interviewed. "Top environmental regulators said they weren’t aware of any case in the last 25 years in which a Wisconsin attorney general took a polluter to court without winning a penalty. 'This doesn’t provide effective deterrence for the companies that want to cut corners on pollution controls,' said George Meyer, who led the Department of Natural Resource’s enforcement division before serving as secretary from 1992 to 2001.'"[19]

Wisconsin Republicans Hire Expensive Attorneys to Defend Gerrymandered Maps

In November 2016 a panel of three judges found that Republican-led redistricting efforts unfairly and unconstitutionally favored Republicans. Schimel and Wisconsin Republicans retained private attorneys to aid in the defense of their gerrymandered maps. The expenses have come out of the pockets of Wisconsin taxpayers, although Republicans have yet to announce exactly how much this will cost. As of March 2017, Wisconsin has paid $2.1 million in legal aid related to Republican redistricting and gerrymandered maps.[20]

An investigation by ProPublica found that the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) spearheaded a national push by Republicans to control the 2010 redistricting process and create voting districts favorable to Republicans. The RSLC launched its Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) and also conducted work through its 501(c)4 non-profit, the State Government Leadership Foundation.[21]

Jane Mayer wrote that the RSLC's change of focus towards redistricting began when Ed Gillespie, former counselor to President George W. Bush, was named chairman of the group. "Soon after Gillespie took over, the RSLC announced an effort to influence state races throughout the country, the Redistricting Majority Project, or REDMAP. Fundraising soared. The group raised $30 million in 2010, by far its best year. (Its Democratic counterpart raised roughly $10 million)." Donors included pharmaceutical companies, tobacco companies Altria and Reynolds; Walmart, and Koch summit attendees.[22]

State Justice Department Spent $50,000 on 'Promotional Swag', $10,000 on Schimel's Commemorative Coins

Records obtained by One Wisconsin Now showed that between 2013 and 2017 the Wisconsin Department of Justice, under Republican control, spent over $50,000 on promotional merchandise.[23]

Previously, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on records that revealed Schimel's DOJ spent $10,000 on "commemorative coins," paid for by Wisconsin taxpayers, engraved with Schimel's own personal motto "K.A.E.D" or Kicking Ass Every Day, which he uses to sign off emails with staff.[24]

Schimel Campaign Aide and Spokesman Gets 17 Percent Pay Raise

For nearly two years, Johnny Koremenos, Schimel's director of communications and public affairs, was paid by both Wisconsin taxpayers and Schimel's reelection campaign. Upon changing his status with the campaign to "volunteer," Koremenos received a 17.5 percent pay raise as a state employee.[25] In January 2017, One Wisconsin Now submitted an open records request, asking for Schimel's and Koremenos's calendars. As of mid-March One Wisconsin Now has yet to receive these records, despite the Wisconsin Department of Justice acknowledging they received the request. According to Open Government Office's website, it is the policy of the DOJ to respond to open records requests within ten days.

John Doe Prosecutors Claim Defamation Against Schimel

In February 2016 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and his investigators "argued in court that Attorney General Brad Schimel had defamed them by saying they had illegally possessed material they collected in recent probes." Chisholm led the John Doe investigation into potential illegal coordination by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and outside groups.

"Former Walker aide Cindy Archer sued Chisholm and investigators in his office in federal court last year, arguing her civil rights were violated when her home was raided in 2011 as part of the first probe. Archer was not charged. The investigators — David Budde, Robert Stelter and Aaron Weiss — have asked U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman to allow them to retain evidence they gathered despite the state Supreme Court's order to give up that material. They argue they need it so they can defend themselves against Archer's lawsuit. The GOP attorney general last month filed a friend-of-the-court brief contending they should not be able to have that material because the state Supreme Court has found they were not entitled to it."

The investigators' attorney, "(Samuel) Leib argued it was inappropriate for Schimel to make the filing because his office had earlier refused to participate in the probe and litigation related to it, citing conflicts of interest. 'While the attorney general's abrupt decision to ignore the conflicts of interest that have precluded his office's involvement in the John Doe matters is troubling, his failure to apprise the court of the same is inexcusable,' Leib wrote. He contended Schimel had defamed the investigators by saying in interviews with conservative radio hosts that they had obtained evidence illegally and had stolen the material."[26]

Open Records Controversy

Schimel has held training sessions for government officials on open records and open meetings laws while simultaneously fighting politically inconvenient open records requests.

Weeks before the Republican AG was elected in 2014, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed an open records request with his predecessor, former Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. The party received a tip late in that election cycle that then-Waukesha County District Attorney Schimel had made inappropriate remarks in videotaped DOJ trainings. The party specifically targeted presentations in 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2009, but Van Hollen refused to produce the requested training videos.[27]

The DOJ claimed that releasing them would reveal law enforcement strategy and compromise victim privacy. The Democratic Party quickly filed a lawsuit in Dane County. Circuit Court Judge Richard Neiss viewed the available tapes and said that there was no reason to keep them private. He ordered the state to release the training videos, however he put a hold on his own order while the state appealed it. Unfortunately that ensured that the public would not see the Schimel videos before voting in what was considered a relatively close race.[28]

Schimel won the election and as AG continued to fight the release of the videos. The DOJ appealed the Neiss ruling but lost again in 2015 when the state court of appeals ruled unanimously that there was no compelling reason to keep the videos secret. Rather than practice open government after another loss in court, Schimel’s DOJ decided to instead appeal to a politically friendly majority on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

Right-Wing Court's Reversal of Open Records Practice and Precedent "Dims the Light on Transparency"

In a September 2016 decision on the Schimel open records case, the right-wing majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a 5-2 reversal of both lower courts which had ordered the release of the tapes. The majority included conservative Justices Rebecca Bradley, the author of the decision, Patience Roggensack, Michael Gableman, Daniel Kelly and Annette Ziegler while Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley dissented.

The politically expedient decision was a reversal of practice and precedent regarding Wisconsin’s traditionally open government laws. Writing for the majority, Justice Rebecca Bradley noted that the “context” of the records request should be considered because it “suggests a partisan purpose underlying the request.” Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council commented that this point was the “most disappointing” part of the ruling for him, “that’s not supposed to be a factor.” He went on to observe that the majority doesn't seem to mind when their own political allies use the records law to help them get elected.

In a powerful dissent, Justice Shirley Abrahamson said, “Today, the majority opinion significantly dims the lights on transparency in government and shuts off some lights by concluding that the Department of Justice may withhold both of the videos in their entirety.”

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s attorney, Michael Bauer, didn’t mince words in his reaction to the decision saying that “No amount of platitudes regarding its 'commitment to open government' as found in today's opinion, or self-serving 'open government' seminars conducted by the attorney general should fool Wisconsin citizens about the Republican leadership and Supreme Court of this state's efforts to undermine a fundamental pillar of our democracy.”[29]

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Majority Got it Wrong

In a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial reacting to the decision, the state’s largest paper flatly stated that “the majority got it wrong, and sent a disturbing message about this court’s commitment to protecting the public’s right to know how its officials conduct their business.”[30]

Pro-Schimel Dark Money Group Generates Federal Complaint

Leading up to the November 2014 election, Schimel was neck and neck with Susan Happ when a mysterious dark money group with the phony name "Rule of Law Project," (ROLP) dropped into the race with a major ad buy backing Schimel and lauding him for his opposition to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.[31]

The Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of SourceWatch, was first to link the ROLP to the Washington, D.C., law firm of Boyden Gray and Associates. A founder of the Federalist Society and former White House counsel, Gray is the chief architect of the 40-year attack on regulations protecting public health and the environment. Gray's firm represents dirty power companies in the fight against the president’s plan, which if implemented would reduce greenhouse gas pollution by up to 32 percent by 2030.[31]

In 2016, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI urging an investigation and alleging that the dark money group made false representations to the IRS. "There are still some limits to the amount of spending and secrecy these groups are permitted — and too many brazenly ignore these modest limits," CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. [32]

CREW spotted some big names and some big dark-money players in ROLP.[32]

Lawsuit Against Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan

On August 3, 2015, with Governor Scott Walker's approval, Schimel signed onto a lawsuit aimed at stopping the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan (CPP). The lawsuit was spearheaded by Murray Energy, the largest privately-held coal company in America, and Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia's Republican Attorney General. The CPP is the nations first standard for limiting dirty carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. While Schimel says he is protecting Wisconsin businesses and rate payers, the lawsuits are part of a strategy in a national playbook written by the fossil fuel industry and anti-government ideologues like the Koch's Americans for Prosperity and the Koch-funded ALEC. [33]

Costly Solicitor General Position Created at Schimel's Behest

In October of 2015 Schimel named Misha Tseytlin the first Solicitor General of Wisconsin, a position created at Schimel's request. The new office is expected to cost taxpayers approximately $1 million over the next two years. Tseytlin is a key player in the attempt to derail the effort to rein in carbon emissions. He is listed as general counsel on the West Virginia lawsuit challenging the CPP and has also battled an EPA rule which restored Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and streams. In private practice, he worked for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a major law firm representing energy clients like Chevron in its fight against a $19 billion dollar judgement for polluting the Ecuadorian rainforest. Tseytlin is a "proud member" of the Koch-funded Federalist Society.[33]


Attorney General Office
17 W. Main Street PO Box 7857
Madison, WI 53703-7857
Phone: (608).266.1221
fax: (608).267.2779

Campaign Office
P.O. Box 1567
Brookfield, WI 53008

DOJ Website:
Campaign Website: https://bradschimel.comv
Twitter: @WisDOJ

Articles and Resources

Dirty Energy Barons Go to Bat for WI AG Candidate Schimel October 2014.

Brad Schimel's Dirty Power Play December 2015.

Mary Bottari: Dark money group that backed AG Schimel is in spotlight June 2016.


  1. RILEY VETTERKIND GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel concedes re-election bid to Democrat Josh Kaul Wisconsin State Journal Nov 20, 2018
  2. Patrick Marley and Molly Beck Gov. Scott Walker appoints outgoing Attorney General Brad Schimel to Waukesha court Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Nov 20, 2018
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named sSchimelJudge
  4. Patrick Marley Attorney General Brad Schimel suggests Donald Trump won Wisconsin because of the state's voter ID law Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, April 13 2018
  5. Todd Richmond Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel suggests Voter ID helped Donald Trump win the state Wisconsin State Journal April 14, 2018
  6. One Wisconsin Now Brad Schimel illegally followed hate group’s instructions to keep his conference appearance secret Wisconsin Gazette, June 6 2018
  7. AP and WIG Reports Wisconsin Department of Justice spent $1,000 to send a state attorney to an anti-gay hate group’s conference Wisconsin Gazzatte, May 20 2018
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mike Browne, Records Reveal Wisconsin Attorney General Spent Over $80,000 on Promotional Swag Including Coffee Mugs, Candy, Fortune Cookies, One Wisconsin Now, September 6, 2017.
  9. Daniel Bice, Schimel drops $10,000 on commemorative coins, Journal Sentinel, January 6, 2017.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Todd Richmond, Schimel Hires Lab Consultant as Criticism Over Delays Mounts, Associated Press, July 19, 2018.
  11. Ryan Grim, James O'Keefe Hit by Group He Stung with Million-Dollar Lawsuit, The Intercept, June 1, 2017.
  12. Patrick Marley, Wisconsin DOJ: James O'Keefe's Project Veritas tape did not show election law violations, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 25, 2017.
  13. Patrick Marley, Conservative James O'Keefe threatens to investigate Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel over video flap, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 27, 2017.
  14. Bruce Murphy, The Incompetence of Brad Schimel, Urban Milwaukee, May 2, 2017.
  15. Ramon Antonio Vargas, James O'Keefe and friends plead guilty in Mary Landrieu office caper, The Times Picayune, May 26, 2010.
  16. Harriet Rowan, James O’Keefe Pays $100K Settlement after Deceiving Public about ACORN (and ALEC Helped Take Down ACORN), Center for Media and Democracy, March 14, 2013.
  17. Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, Letter to DeVos Re: Revocation of Student Loan Borrower Protections, letter, April 24, 2017.
  18. One Wisconsin Now, Brad Schimel Sides With Trump University Over Student Loan Borrowers, press release, April 24, 2017.
  19. Steven Verburg, Attorney General Brad Schimel settles without fine in 3M pollution case, Wisconsin State Journal, March 29, 2017.
  20. Patrick Marley, Top lawyer to help Wisconsin Republicans in fight over legislative maps, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 6, 2017.
  21. Olga, Pierce, How Dark Money Helped Republicans Hold the House and Hurt Voters Pro Publica, December 21, 2012.
  22. Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, 2016.
  23. One Wisconsin Now, GOP-Controlled WI Department of Justice Has Spent More $50,000 in Swag Last Four Years, One Wisconsin Now, May 9, 2017.
  24. Daniel Bice, Schimel drops $10,000 on commemorative coins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 6, 2017.
  25. Patrick Marley, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel aide gets 17.5% pay bump, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 11, 2017.
  26. Patrick Marley, John Doe investigators say Brad Schimel defamed them, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 19, 2016.
  27. Scott Rada, Judge orders DOJ to release Schimel videos, La Crosse Tribune, October, 2014.
  28. Jason Stein and Bill Glauber, Judge puts hold on order to release training videos featuring Schimel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 3, 2014.
  29. Patrick Marley, State high court keeps Schimel videos from public, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 28, 2016.
  30. Editorial Board, State court got it wrong; public has right to videos, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 29, 2016.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Mary Bottari, Dark money group that backed AG Schimel is in spotlight, The Cap Times, June 123, 2016.
  32. 32.0 32.1 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Dark Money Uncovered, organizational website, accessed April 25, 2017.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Mary Bottari, Brad Schimel's Dirty Power Play, PRWatch, December 10, 2015.