Rosenberg said filing the complaint made her uncomfortable.
“I wanted to brush it off and continue focusing on my message, my campaign, and the people of Wausau,” Rosenberg said. “However, I can’t continue to tell my neighbors that I stand for accountability and leadership while at the same time ignoring another lapse in judgement and misuse of government resources.”
“In September, he used the city equipment and social media accounts for his campaign announcement,” Rosenberg said. “Now he’s using the publicly financed newsletter that is mailed to tens of thousands of Wausau households and business to deliver campaign language.”In her complaint, Rosenberg mentions both issues that arose in September and included links to stories in The City Pages and Wausau Pilot and Review for reference.
Photos and an announcement regarding Mielke’s political plans briefly appeared on the city’s Facebook page, but the post was taken down after critics spoke up. Mielke, in September, said his assistant, Kathi Groeschel, is the Facebook page administrator who both determines and adds city-related news as it happens.
“This isn’t a policy disagreement, it’s a pattern of behavior intended to give him an unfair political advantage,” Rosenberg said.Most investigations into actions by local officials are undertaken by the city’s ethics board, an entity established in 1990 with members chosen by the mayor and confirmed by the city council. But the terms of Wausau’s ethics board members all expired nearly two years ago. Ethics board members are ideally appointed during a time that makes clear to the public that the group serves the public interest and not the interests of those groups subject to the board’s oversight, according to the Campaign Legal Center. The mailing differs from the two other issues cited in the complaint because the action appears to apply to a specific state statute, likely bringing it under the authority of the state ethics commission. Speaking in general terms Daniel Carlton, administrator of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, said prejudging a complaint would be inappropriate, because the process specifically provides that a person named in a complaint has at least 15 days to respond before the Commission takes any action other than to dismiss a complaint. “There may be facts or legal argument that would affect any conclusion that we might reach that we would not be aware of until that response,” Carlton wrote, in an email to Wausau Pilot and Review. Penalties for violating campaign ethics rules are far-ranging and vary from state to state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Wisconsin, violators of the code of ethics for public officials and employees are subject to civil penalties of up to $500 or not more than $5,000, depending on the violation. Criminal penalties for code violations include fines between $100 and $5,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both, according to the NCSL database. Mielke and Rosenberg are the only two candidates seeking the office in the April election. A third challenger, Christopher Norfleet, announced his candidacy but instead opted to run for city council in Dist. 1, challenging Pat Peckham. Mielke, in an email on Friday, told Wausau Pilot and Review that he was unaware of the complaint filed against him. Top image: Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke, flanked by staff and supporters, announces he will seek another term of office on Sept. 9, 2019. Photo credit: Shereen Siewert/Wausau Pilot and Review WW4U_2020_Winter