County Exec: Corp Counsel ‘Retires’ in Midst of Investigation
By Brandi Makuski
Portage Co. Executive Patty Dreier on Monday announced longtime county lawyer Mike McKenna has retired.
McKenna, who has worked for the county for almost 20 years, retired on Jan. 6. It was not immediately clear why so much time passed before the move was made public.
McKenna has been at odds with Dreier for some time, having filed a discrimination complaint against her in 2015, arguing Dreier openly showed favoritism to younger employees. While the state found Dreier’s tactics did not meet a legal standard for discrimination, her office later ordered an investigation into McKenna’s office, charging one of his coworkers to shadow his movements for a period of several months.
In December, the Portage Co. Human Resources Committee heard reports from Dreier that McKenna had been leaving work early, belittled a female coworker and threatened others in his office. Through his lawyer, Jared Redfield, McKenna denied each of the claims, saying the investigation was retaliatory in response to the complaint he filed in 2015.
McKenna was placed on paid administrative leave in mid-December.
Of his departure, Dreier said, “The county wishes Mr. McKenna the best in his future endeavors as he retires from county service and continues his life-long career of public service.”
Dreier added McKenna will continue to serve a the Municipal Court Judge for Stevens Point and Plover.
Messages left for McKenna and Redfield were not immediately returned.
McKenna is not the first employee to leave in the midst of an investigation. In Sept. of 2015, Portage Co. Treasurer Stephanie Stokes resigned from her office while being investigated by the county for her accounting practices. Stokes called that investigation a “witch hunt”, adding Dreier had overstepped her authority by disabling her key card without County Board approval. Dreier denied any wrongdoing in that instance, and said Stokes’ accounting practices were a cause for concern following a 2013 independent audit of the office.
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