FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) -- Peg Lautenschlager, the first woman to serve as Wisconsin attorney general, has died. She was 62.
Bill Rippl, her husband, says she died early Saturday surrounded by family at their home in Fond du Lac. She had been diagnosed with brain cancer.
Lautenschlager had served as district attorney in Winnebago County, a Democratic state representative and a U.S. attorney in Madison before she won election as attorney general in 2002.
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She was defeated in a primary in 2006, two years after being cited for drunken driving after she drove her state car into a ditch.
In 2016, she was appointed as the first commissioner of the newly formed Ethics Commission, from which she later resigned. Her career spanned more than 30 years. Her son, Josh Kaul, is now running for attorney general.
The following statement was released Saturday morning from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Chair Martha Laning on news of the death of former AG Peg Lautenschlager.
“Today we say farewell today to one of Wisconsin’s most dedicated grassroots progressives, for whom no work was too small or too big in her fight for justice, fairness and opportunity for all Wisconsinites. With great intellect, humor and compassion, Peg Lautenschlager served her neighbors, her home community of Fond du Lac and all of our state as our first woman to be elected Attorney General.
“Last fall I was honored to present Peg with a lifetime achievement award for all the numerous ways she has served the people of our state--from her start as an attorney combating domestic abuse to her trailblazing roles in state government to her tireless advocacy for workers’ rights and government ethics, among so many other causes. Our theme for the October event where she received that award was “imagination, integrity and courage,” as these are virtues Peg Lautenschlager exemplified her entire career. She will be so fondly remembered and deeply missed.”
Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said in a separate press release:
“It is with a heavy heart that I learned of the passing of Peg. She was a trailblazer for many women in Wisconsin politics, a loyal friend and true blue Democrat. Peg was a trusted political mentor to many and was always willing to lend her insight, advice and enthusiasm to friends and family across the state. “Peg served her community and state well, from her time as Winnebago District Attorney to her most recent position as Chair of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Peg loved good policy, better outcomes, great stories and spending time in the company of her many friends and family. My deepest condolences to her husband Bill and their children.”
Governor Scott Walker said in a tweet Saturday morning:
Our prayers go out to the family of former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager. She also served in the Wisconsin State Assembly, as the Winnebago District Attorney and as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) March 31, 2018
Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement that he did not know Lautenschlager well, but many of his team members at the Wisconsin Department of Justice did.
"I appreciate her many decades of public service and commitment to Wisconsin. She hired many of the fine public servants who now work at DOJ on behalf of the people of Wisconsin and her dedication lives on through their daily work," Schimel said.