Middleton School Board President Promotes Burke on Government Time, Email
Left, Mary Burke, whose family owns Trek Bicycles, is running for Governor of Wisconsin. (Contributed photo)
By Patrick Lynn
Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is getting some support from the government email of the president of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School Board.
The school board official, Ellen Lindgren, had been using her government email to send an official Burke campaign email to fellow educators. The email, which concludes with “Paid for by Burke for Wisconsin”, contains an invite to a networking social function at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee next week. The email invites attendees can “hear Mary’s ideas about the future of our great state and her vision for public schools”.
Political solicitation by a public employee is against the law in Wisconsin and carries with it up to a $2,000 fine and up to one year in prison. The law prohibits elected and other government officials from using government resources- to include email accounts- to promote or otherwise support any political campaign or candidate.
In January 2013, a former aide of Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County Executive, was sentenced to one year of probation after being found guilty of two counts of political solicitation by a public employee after sending letters and emails supporting Walker’s run for governor while working on county time from her private laptop. The aide, Darlene Wink, avoided jail time with a guilty plea.
In 2012, Stevens Point School Board Member Lisa Totten sent an email promoting certain board candidates to area educators using her husband’s email address. Totten’s husband is a local public high school teacher, but the email was sent from a private account and not during government work time, making it a legal practice.
Lindgren ran for state Assembly in 2012 as a Democrat and has been a vocal opponent of Gov. Scott Walker. She has raised several thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for Democrats at the state level.
Any legal action against Lindgren will likely be prompted from the Government Accountability Board, which administers Wisconsin ethics and campaign laws.
Messages left for Lindgren and Burke have not been returned.