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Mandela Barnes vs. Ron Johnson: 7 Shameful Barnes Moments

Lying about a college degree…helping incite a violent riot in Kenosha…here are 7 shameful moments by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Democrats have cleared the field in the U.S. Senate primary, with Sarah Godlewski becoming the latest to drop out. That means it’s a showdown between Tony Evers’ Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson.

Who is Mandela Barnes really? We’ve compiled 7 shameful Barnes moments for you to consider as he remakes himself in television ads.

The state GOP noted, “Whether it’s lying about his college degree, his temper tantrums when being asked to explain his unpaid taxes, or his delinquent fines, ‘Make-it-up Mandela’ Barnes has neither the maturity nor the temperament to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate.”

In a campaign Internet ad, Barnes’ campaign wrote, “I’m running because the system is not working for the hardworking people of Wisconsin. It’s time for change.” Wait!? Isn’t he second in charge of the state? Isn’t he helping run the system…?

Here are 7 Hall of Shame moments for Mandela Barnes:

1. Voting Against a Bill Protecting Police Officers, Their Family Members & Prosecutors in the Wake of the Ferguson Riots


Barnes voted against a bill when he was a legislator that made it a felony to batter a prosecutor and to threaten a law enforcement officer or batter their family members.

The language in Assembly Bill 347 was pretty straightforward. It was proposed by a group of Republican legislators. An analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau reads, “Assembly Bill 347 provides that it is a Class H felony to either cause bodily harm or threaten to cause bodily harm to the person of or family of a judge, law enforcement officer, prosecutor, or public defender.”

In this, Barnes was an outlier. Only 15 members of the state Assembly voted “no.” The bill passed 80-15 with many Democrats and all but one Republican voting “yes.” Mandela Barnes joined radical Democrats like David Bowen and Jonathan Brostoff in refusing to protect cops, public defenders, and prosecutors, and their family members. The bill was proposed on the heels of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and growing threats to law enforcement officers throughout the country.

What specifically did the bill change?

The previous law only made it a felony to batter a law enforcement officer and to batter or threaten a judge or the judge’s family member, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau.

The new law expanded that to include battery or threats to prosecutors; battery or threats to public defenders; threats to law enforcement officers; and battery or threats to the families of law enforcement officers. It also expanded the law to include former members of those positions. Indeed, bizarrely, the law that Jarchow and Barnes opposed also made it a felony to batter the Attorney General or the Attorney General’s family.

2. His Shameful, Riot Inciting Tweets on the Jacob Blake Shooting

Jim Piwowarczyk
“Kenosha Burns” Photo by Jim Piwowarczyk

The state should expect that its lieutenant governor would not rush to judgment against a law enforcement officer and incite a violent riot before the facts were in. But that’s exactly what Barnes did. His comments on the Jacob Blake shooting were factually wrong, inflammatory, and arguably incited the riots that followed (Kenosha burned the night of Barnes’ tweet.)

On Aug. 24, 2020, the DAY after the shooting, Barnes rushed to judgment and recklessly and falsely wrote, “last night, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times in front of his children. This wasn’t an accident. The officer’s deadly actions attempted to take a person’s life in broad daylight. Like many of you, the video is burned into my mind like all the past videos just like it. The irony is not lost on me that as Jacob Blake was trying to deescalate a fight in his community, the responding officer didn’t feel the need to do the same – and now we all know Jacob Blake’s name.” (Actually, Blake, who was wanted on a warrant, escalated the situation with officers by resisting arrest, twisting toward the officer with a knife, and then trying to leave the scene with children.).


He also implied that Blake’s shooting was the result of white supremacy and systemic racism (for which there is literally no evidence). He said the system was perpetuating “systemic violence” and said communities are “overpoliced” and “children learn early on that police officers aren’t always serving and protecting them as they should.”


When the facts came in and the (Democratic) district attorney cleared the officer, ruling the shooting justified, did Barnes clarify, retract or apologize for his reckless rhetoric? Nope. He doubled down, tweeting, “I wish I could say that I’m shocked. It’s another instance in a string of misapplications of justice. It keeps happening, and there’s always a new excuse. The non-prosecuting DAs are as negligent as the officers in these situations. What is video evidence anyway if they just watch it and interpret things other than reality? Police accountability is one thing, but there’s a much deeper failure that allows a person to see the footage and ultimately determine nothing went wrong.”

He actually wrote in a statement that “to see a city burn on the outside is devastating but hardly compares to the implosion brought by systemic inequity and injustice.”

He never explained why he thinks DA Mike Graveley got it wrong (and retired Police Chief Noble Wray, who conducted his own investigation) since they relied on the TOTALITY of evidence as the law requires not the snippet of video that Barnes fixates on. Just more reckless rhetoric from a person who should know better. We actually watched Graveley’s presentation and listened to the facts, and it’s clear that the officer was justified to shoot Blake, who had a knife, who resisted arrest, who was accused of sexual assault, and who was about to flee with kids in the car.

What are the actual facts? Officer Rusten Sheskey said that Blake twisted toward him with a knife. He and another officer made a failed attempt to tase Blake, who was wanted on a warrant. Blake’s children were in the car. Blake admitted having a knife, the DOJ says. The officer repeatedly ordered Blake to drop the knife, but he did not comply. Blake continued to fight with the officers and at one point put an officer in a headlock. Blake had a felony arrest warrant for a domestic violence incident that included a charge of third-degree sexual assault (the latter charge was later reduced in a plea deal).

The DOJ investigation revealed: During the investigation following the initial incident, Mr. Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession. DCI agents recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Mr. Blake’s vehicle. A search of the vehicle located no additional weapons.

Watch for yourself:

Absolutely despicable behavior. Incitement.

3. Lying to the Public About Whether He Had a College Degree

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in 2019, Barnes “told the public months ago he finished college and received a degree but now says he didn’t graduate.”

In other words, he lied.

The newspaper reported that he lied to the Journal Sentinel, saying he “finished” college, lied in a candidate questionnaire that he had a bachelor’s degree, and lied to the Capital Times in a podcast.

A staffer blamed another staffer. In 2020, he finally got a degree.

4. Leaving an Interview When Asked About His Delinquent Property Taxes

In 2019, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Barnes “walked out of an interview with a reporter for WITI-TV (Channel 6) when asked about his delinquent property taxes on his Milwaukee condo.”

The Journal Sentinel reported that Barnes was “listed as being delinquent on his 2018 tax bill of $2,225. He also has not paid the $70 balance on his 2017 taxes.” Barnes and Tony Evers said the check was in the mail.

5. Being a Parking Ticket Scofflaw

In 2019, in another story on Barnes, the Journal Sentinel reported, “…a judge ruled last year that Barnes couldn’t get the registration on his own car renewed until he paid a $108 fine for several outstanding parking tickets.”

He was being driven around by a State Patrol protection unit on the taxpayer dime because his registration was not renewed.

6. Barnes Thinks the Founding of the United States Was ‘Awful’

Barnes,spent the Fourth of July weekend bashing America.

“Imagine, ah, being so ashamed of how we got to this place in America that you outlaw teaching, you know. Things were bad. Things were terrible. The founding of this nation – awful,” Barnes said.

7. Trying to Eliminate Cash Bail

Barnes wants to eliminate cash bail nationally.

That’s despite of many recent examples in Wisconsin of people released on low cash bail or signature bonds who reoffended, murdering people, including Darrell Brooks, the Waukesha parade attacker.

Barnes previously sponsored a bill that would end cash bail in the state.


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