Lt. Gov. Barnes blames staffer for graduation claim

Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is blaming a campaign staffer for telling a newspaper he had graduated from college when he really hadn't.

A candidate questionnaire that Barnes' campaign returned to the Wisconsin State Journal last year said Barnes had a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Alabama A&M University.

But Barnes told Isthmus newspaper for a story published Thursday that he didn't graduate from college because he didn't complete a course. A&M spokesman Jerome Saintjones confirmed Barnes attended the school but didn't graduate.

Barnes spokesman Earl Arms said in an email that Barnes has always said he attended A&M rather than saying he graduated. Arms said the questionnaire response was an error by a campaign staffer, and that Barnes "regrets that oversight."

Barnes told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel twice in a November interview that he "finished" college, and the paper reported he had graduated. Arms didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment on that remark.

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3:15 p.m.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is facing questions about his claims to have graduated from Alabama A&M University.

Barnes told Isthmus newspaper of Madison for a story published Thursday that he hasn't graduated because he didn't finish a course.

But Barnes told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel twice last fall that he had "finished" college in 2008. And the Wisconsin State Journal said that his response to a candidate questionnaire said he had received a "BA in Broadcast Journalism" from A&M.

A&M spokesman Jerome Saintjones confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that Barnes was a student at the school from the fall of 2003 through the spring of 2008 but did not graduate. He said Barnes is still working with the university to resolve the incomplete coursework.

Barnes' spokesman, Earl Arms, didn't respond to emails seeking comment.

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11:25 p.m.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes says he hasn't completed his degree at Alabama A&M University.

Barnes tells Isthmus newspaper of Madison that he completed coursework to resolve an incomplete class but never turned it in. He calls it "a small technical thing."

Barnes' biography on Gov. Tony Evers' website doesn't claim that he graduated. Instead, it describes him as an alumnus, which may be someone who only attended a school.

Isthmus said Barnes volunteered the information, and told the newspaper he is working with A&M to finish requirements to graduate.

Barnes' spokesman, Earl Arms, and an Alabama A&M spokesman didn't immediately respond to calls or emails seeking comment.