skip to nav skip to content


Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Where Were The Prosecutors On This?

  • Print

I didn't get to this Monday, but it is an intriguing story that raises some pretty basic questions. Officials of the state Firefighters Union were implicated in a fraudulent money laundering scheme, but there is no indication that prosecutors showed the slightest interest in criminally prosecuting any of the bosses. Why not?

Dan Bice reported:

Federal election regulators have officially doused an elaborate and long-running campaign laundering scheme by former leaders of the Wisconsin firefighters union.

In a deal recently made public, the Federal Election Commission fined the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and 11 of its former board members a total of $58,000 and banned them from running for leadership posts in the union for varying lengths of time for "knowingly and willfully" violating campaign laws and regulation.

Bice explained that the union bosses came up with a "scheme to create fictitious legislative meetings in Madison for which the executive board members could seek expense reimbursement equal to the donations they were making to the national union."

With West Allis firefighter Rick Gale as president, board members received nearly $17,000 in reimbursements for bogus mileage and per diems to attend nonexistent meetings, with the amounts ranging from $354 to nearly $2,500 per person...

...three board members - Brookfield firefighter Robert Baird, Oshkosh firefighter John Gee and Eau Claire firefighter Lance Hanson - came up with a new way to reimburse themselves for part of their political donations. ...

In 2009 and 2010, the trio gave to FirePac but then billed their union for the cost to register to attend the national union's legislative conference, even though they didn't have to pay any registration fees because they made the donation. The three board members pocketed $1,375 for false claims over those two years.

How was this money laundering scheme not criminal?

Where was the Dane County DA? Where was the attorney general?


This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Milwaukee, WI

Broken Clouds
Broken Clouds
NE at 9 mph

620 WTMJ