By Shereen Siewert
Members of the Marathon County Executive Committee this week received a report from an outside law firm investigating the county clerk’s ability to conduct a fair and impartial election, but have not disclosed the results to the public.
In August, the committee unanimously approved a motion to direct the matter to outside legal counsel for further review, with costs not to exceed $25,000. The investigation into Marathon County Clerk Kim Trueblood’s actions was prompted by social media comments she posted offering to “work behind the scenes” to promote a possible school board recall effort.
In August, Trueblood was part of a “Parents for Wausau Schools Reopening” Facebook group that launched after the Wausau School Board voted to begin the fall semester virtually.
Appointed to the position in September 2019 by a split vote of the Marathon County Board of Supervisors, Trueblood, a Republican, is the county’s chief elections official. Though county clerks are elected in Wisconsin to four-year terms, Trueblood applied for the position after longtime Marathon County Clerk Nan Kottke announced her retirement. As the clerk, Trueblood is responsible for appointing, recruiting, and training election workers and overseeing ballots, voting equipment, and polling places. When citizens submit petitions to recall a public official, or an initiative for the ballot, the clerk handles the documents in accordance with state and federal law.
Trueblood’s comments prompted Tricia Zunker, who is president of the Wausau School Board and a candidate for Wisconsin’s 7th U.S. Congressional District, to request an ethics investigation. In a statement to Wausau Pilot & Review in August, Zunker said she made the request acting as a private citizen.
Marathon County Board Chair Kurt Gibbs said the committee this week received the report, which was compiled by the law firm Von Briesen & Roper, SC.
Gibbs said the report has been forwarded to Trueblood for her review and comment before the Executive committee reconvenes next week to consider next steps.