Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Wisconsin Ethics Commission staff leakers face 9 months prison, $10,000 fine

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//September 20, 2023//

Janet Protasiewicz

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz. AP File Photo

Wisconsin Ethics Commission staff leakers face 9 months prison, $10,000 fine

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//September 20, 2023//

Listen to this article

Last updated 9:46 p.m. CDT on September 20, 2023.

Dan Carlton, administrator for the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, says that if any of his seven staff members leak details from an ongoing investigation he will personally terminate them on the spot and refer them to law enforcement.

“Complaints are confidential. If this was any of my staff, they know they would be terminated and referred to law enforcement,” Carlton told the Wisconsin Law Journal on Wednesday.

According to Carlton, there are certain exceptions to the non-disclosure rule, such as when there is a public settlement or district attorney referral.

While Carlton could neither confirm nor deny the recent report by conservative talk radio host Dan O’Donnell alleging Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz’s campaign allegedly conducted money laundering and fraud known as “smurfing,” he said it is perfectly legal under Wisconsin law for the complainant to disclose the complaint details.

Madison attorney Lester Pines who is a partner at Pines Bach, LLP called the allegations “an idle rumor.”

“It’s basically an idle rumor that someone is pedaling to get more listeners for a talk show. It’s worthless,” Pines said.

“Anyone who believes an allegation from a radio talk show host is wasting their time. Maybe there is an investigation and complaint. People make complaints all of the time, that doesn’t mean they are true. It’s just like the complaint the election was fraudulent. It wasn’t. It’s not even worth the paper it is written on. Why should we believe him?” Pines asked.

Sam Roecker a campaign spokesperson for Protasiewicz agreed with Pines.

“Right-wing extremists are desperate and peddling conspiracy theories about an election they lost by 11 points. The campaign is complying with election laws, despite what a widely discredited individual who’s obsessed with attacking our democracy says,” Roecker said.

The Wisconsin Law Journal reached out to O’Donnell Wednesday, but a response was not received prior to publication.

This story has been updated.


What kind of stories do you want to read more of?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Legal News

See All Legal News

WLJ People

Sea all WLJ People

Opinion Digests