By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Republican state treasurer candidate said on Monday that he was fired from his bank job because he wouldn’t drop out of the race.
Travis Hartwig’s campaign said in a news release that U.S. Bank fired him from his job as a mutual-fund administrator at a downtown Milwaukee branch on July 2. A U.S. Bank spokeswoman, Cheryl Leamon, said in an email on Monday that the bank has a “strong conflict of interest policy that includes perceived conflicts of interest to ensure we are able to operate ethically and transparently.” She didn’t elaborate, adding only that the bank doesn’t comment on employee matters.
Hartwig said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he notified the bank he was running for treasurer in April. Company officials told him last month that he had only two options: quit the race by June 29 or resign. He said no one ever explained to him why he couldn’t run and continue working at U.S. Bank.
A human-resources employee spoke to him by phone on July 2 and asked him to choose between the race and his job. He refused to choose and was terminated in the same phone call, he said.
Hartwig said he had worked for U.S. Bank since February 2016 and was making $62,250 a year. He said he refused to drop out of the race because he believed it was important to have citizen representation in government.
“Employer restrictions like this make it hard for citizens to want to be involved in their government,” he said.
His attorney, Nate Cade, said he plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Fair Employment Practices Agency later this week. Cade said in a telephone interview that employers can’t fire someone for running for office as long as holding office doesn’t conflict with the person’s job.
He said he can’t imagine how being state treasurer would conflict with being a mutual-fund administrator, noting almost every legislator has another job.
The incumbent Treasurer, Matt Adamczyk, is running for the Legislature and isn’t seeking re-election. Hartwig faces his fellow Republican Jill Millies in a primary election scheduled for Aug. 14. The winner will go on to face whoever emerges from a three-way Democratic primary in the November general election.