Former US Attorney Jim Santelle Speaks Up About His Resignation

May 10, 2017

Last month writer Doug Moe profiled Jim Santelle, former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, for Milwaukee Magazine.  The piece featured Santelle’s first extensive public comments in the nearly two years since he resigned from that position amid two internal investigations.

While investigators were critical of Santelle, ultimately he faced no formal charges for the complaints that he had misused a government credit card for personal expenses, and had improperly hosted what amounted to a political campaign function at his home. 

Around the time the article was published, Santelle also invited friends and former colleagues to an event at which he talked at length about his career and lessons learned from the past few years.  He shared a transcript of those remarks with Lake Effect, and also sat down for a wide-ranging interview.

Here are few excerpts:

  • On why Santelle decided to speak publicly about the investigation and resignation now:

"The reality is that a lot of the impression, a lot of the atmosphere that goes along with this was never there. Many of (my friends, colleagues, etc.) encouraged me and said, 'We'd just like to hear from you, Jim. We'd like to hear your perspectives. What was this all about, how does it fit into your larger arch of your career? Where are you going from here and what kinds of things can you tell us in terms of perspectives learned and visions that you might have about the future?'"

  • Santelle admits that he did not pay enough attention to detail and his actions could have been avoided completely:

"What it says about me, and I suspect about anyone who has made mistakes, is that we're human...I will tell you that with respect to the specific subject of these investigations were the result of inadvertence and negligence and inattentiveness. I should not have done them and regret that they happened. At the same time they're the products of focusing on the bigger, more important issues that were on my desk on a daily basis. None of this goes to the integrity that I believe that I brought to this position for five and a half years, and frankly for thirty years."

  • Santelle on the life lessons he has learned:

"As much as I would have preferred not to do it...I have learned from it. I have grown from it and I am animated in many ways to understand life better.

"I believe greatly that in all public service we have this tremendous responsibility and the community should in fact hold me and everyone else to the highest standards of conduct."