MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WTAQ) - There’s a report that the state firefighters’ union just recently notified federal election officials about an old scheme involving the union’s political donations.
It ended 2 years ago. But Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice writes Monday there are still legal questions and hard feelings about what happened.
Reports said 11 past and present union board members gave money to their political action committee which went to Wisconsin House members from 2002 to ’08. And the union reimbursed the board members for up to $3,000 each when they filed false expense reports for meetings they didn’t attend.
A committee set up by the union concluded that the practice was illegal, and union president Mike Woodzicka stopped it when he took office in 2008. The 11 board members reimbursed the union $17,000.
A new panel made sure the union follows campaign laws. But according to columnist Bice, the investigative panel never reported its findings to federal election officials. And five of the 11 members are still serving – something that upsets Eau Claire fire union chief Chris Bell. He wants them to resign, saying they hurt firefighters’ credibility.
Marquette law professor Rick Esenberg told the Journal Sentinel that people have been prosecuted for similar election law violations. He said the state fire union could face potential fraud and election law charges and, “I am really surprised the union was so forgiving.”
Bice also reports that a complaint was filed with the national firefighters’ union against the five still on the state union’s board – but a preliminary review panel dismissed it, saying there’s no proof the members did anything they knew to be wrong.