Dolores Karner blogs on behalf of the New Berlin Citizens for Responsible Government, whose mission is to inform the public about significant issues and to recommend public action when deemed necessary. The NBCRG believes government officials and their employees should be accountable for their actions or lack of actions. The group also recruits and endorses candidates to public office who best express the positions taken by this organization.
Below is a letter dated September 19, 2013 received by Ralph Heun, President, clearing NBCRG of all charges filed by Ms. Linda Richter and Mr. James Lowder. Below is the letter in its entirity:
Dear Ms.Linda Richter / Mr. James Lowder:
RE: Election Law Complaint, DA Case No. 2013WK2852
I am writing to the two of you jointly, since each of you filed a similar complaint with my office. I am writing to advise you that I find no basis for issuance of any charge against either Mayor Ament nor New Berlin Citizens For Responsible Government.
I assigned a detective to investigate the case, and he gathered all of the campaign registration and finance reports for both the Mayor and for the political action committee NBCRG. Neither of the campaign finance reports reflects any contributions made by NBCRG to Mayor Ament's campaign. NBCRG filed the required oath for committees and individuals making independent disbursements with the City of New Berlin clerk on March 20, 2013, prior to distribution of the fliers in question. In the oath, the Treasurer for NBCRG indicates that the group will be supporting Dave Ament in his campaign for Mayor.
The oath indicates that NBCRG would not work in cooperation or consultation with any candidate, their agent or committee. The detective conducted interviews with the individuals involved in the distribution of the fliers, and there is no evidence that there was any collusion. Both sought to have campaign materials distributed and both turned to the same individual to coordinate distribution of the fliers. The President of NBCRG consulted with the City clerk to determine whether it was permissible to distribute the fliers together. The Clerk told him that she had consulted with a representative at the Government Accountability Board and confirmed that the two fliers could be delivered at the same time, but could not be attached to each other. The President of NBCRG interpreted that as prohibiting them from being stapled or otherwise tied together. The election laws do not provide any guidance as to whether one may be folded inside the other. Whatever the case relative to the lack of clarity in the election laws, I think there are really two important questions. First, did the two organizations work together in collusion to distribute the fliers together? Both denied doing so, and there is no evidence to the contrary.
Second, there does not appear to be any secrecy from the public relative to the intentions of NBCRG. They make very plain that they supported candidate Ament. They did not appear to make any campaign contributions to candidate Ament. The Campaign Finance Laws are designed to promote a transparent political process. The investigation did not reveal any evidence of any deception or secrecy on the part of NBCRG. The investigation also revealed that neither the Mayor nor his committee had any idea that his fliers would be distributed along with the NBCRG fliers. We could debate about whether folding one flier inside the other is "attaching" one to the other, but I do not think the distinction is significant. The NBCRG flier clearly indicates the source of the funds to produce the flier and plainly reflects the group's support for candidate Ament. At the same time, candidate Ament's flier clearly indicates who caused it to be produced and by whom the production was funded. I conclude that these activities meet both the spirit and letter of the law.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Very truly yours,
Brad D. Schimel, District Attorney, Waukesha County.