Barrett's first major union endorsement raising questions among critics

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic front-runner in the gubernatorial recall race against Governor Scott Walker, announced his first major union endorsement. Barrett's critics are raising questions about the personal life of a leader of the organization that endorsed him.

Barrett's first major union endorsement is the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, and front and center - Jim Palmer, the organization's executive director. "Tom Barret has consistently demonstrated his support for those who serve in public safety," Palmer said.

Critics are raising questions, saying Palmer has a troubled past that undercuts Barrett's message. In court documents, Palmer's wife says "Jim has engaged in aggressive, physical contact with me in the past, and has received anger management for those actions. However, he still cannot control his temper."

Barrett and other Democrats have made "the war on women" a central issue in the recall campaign.

The Republican Party told FOX6 News in a statement: "If these allegations are true, then it is absolutely shameful that Tom Barrett, for political purposes, would falsely attack Governor Walker's record on women's issues while standing next to a man with an alleged history of using physical force against his own wife."

Palmer says these are personal, family issues. He says there were restraining orders issued in his divorce, but no physical abuse. "For someone to try to use the details of my personal life to undercut a decision that I didn't make is offensive and it's the kind of politics of personal destruction that I think people ought to reject. It's completely irrelevant and it's meant to divert the public's attention away from Scott Walker's failed and divisive agenda," Palmer said.

Barrett says the endorsement is from the 10,000 member organization, not Palmer. "I'm proud to have their support because I respect what they do. They put their lives on the line everyday. Obviously if there are issues for individuals in that organization, I'm not responsible for those issues, but I have been and will continue to be an outspoken advocate to make sure that women are treated fairly in this society," Barrett said.

Palmer was up front about every accusation against him. He declined to discuss the details, saying they were his own family issues and have nothing to do with Barrett.