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Gov. Walker's office: Affair accusations had nothing to do with Smith resignation

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Wisconsin Health Secretary Dennis Smith speaking at Marshfield Clinic groundbreaking ceremony in Stevens Point 9-10-12
Wisconsin Health Secretary Dennis Smith speaking at Marshfield Clinic groundbreaking ceremony in Stevens Point 9-10-12

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The governor’s office says the resignation of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith had nothing to do with accusations that Smith had an affair with his agency’s top attorney.

Smith resigned Thursday, and deputy health secretary Kitty Rhoades was promoted to the top spot.

Smith said he was pursuing what he called a “tremendous” private sector opportunity – but as of Friday afternoon, nobody has said what it is.

Last August, Andrew Spear – the husband of lawyer Mary Spear – was charged in Dane County with 8 criminal counts including attempted homicide. Prosecutors said he beat his wife and tried setting her on fire, after seeing e-mails which indicated she was having an affair with the married Smith. On Tuesday, Andrew Spear filed a court affidavit claiming he saw an e-mail in which his wife declared her love for Smith.

Friday, governor’s spokesman Cullen Werwie told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “That has absolutely nothing to do with it, and any representation to the contrary in a news article does a disservice to a hard-working public servant who has honorably served the state of Wisconsin.”

Smith’s attorney, Bob Jambois, says Spear could not be trusted – and as a former prosecutor, Jambois has seen domestic abusers falsely accuse their spouses of sleeping with others, especially men in positions of power. Spear is scheduled to go on trial April 29th. 

Smith leaves after overseeing some controversial measures promoted by Governor Scott Walker to not tailor the new federal health exchanges to Wisconsin needs – and then counting on those exchanges to care for recipients above the poverty line who would leave Medicaid.

Walker has said it would help more impoverished childless adults get Medicaid, while stabilizing the program financially.

Smith praised Walker in his resignation letter. He said it was a “profound honor” to serve Walker, and he said this about the governor – “There is no void between your words and your actions.” 

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