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Law Firm Hired By Kenosha County Concludes Violations By Former Board Member – Milwaukee District Attorney Refuses To Take Action

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Former County Board Supervisor Andy Berg (D) Illegally Handing Out County Materials
(facebook.com)

Leading up to this April’s election, when County Board member Andy Berg (D) lost his seat, he admitted to handing out “hundreds” of county maps and “hundreds” business cards during the election season. This seems to be clearly illegal and seems to clearly violate county ordinances and state statute.

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KCE filed a complaint with the Kenosha County DA and the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Kenosha DA Mike Graveley sent KCE’s complaint to the Milwaukee County DA. At the same time, then-County Board member Zach Rodriguez asked for the county’s lawyers to investigate the conduct.

The Wisconsin Ethics Commission sent an email to KCE stating in part, “Commission staff has conducted a preliminary review of your complaint as required by Wis. Admin. Code ETH 21.03(2) and determined that your complaint is sufficient to proceed to consideration by the Commission.” This is expected to be reviewed in July.

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KCE made a public records request to Berg to physically review the maps and he denied our request. In March, a Kenosha Judge ordered Berg to make available for inspection a large amount of county park maps and business cards that he was illegally distributing during his Spring 2024 election. Judge Frank Gagliardi also ordered Berg to pay KCE editor Mathewson’s legal fees, in the amount of $309.50 – neither have happened.

Instead, Berg has filed a claim on the County of Kenosha, demanding the County taxpayers pay the judgement. That’s exactly what happened. Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman told KCE today, in part, “the county is paying the court fees associated with the judgement as prescribed under Wisconsin statute 19.37 (2)(a).

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Kenosha County Lawyer Joey Cardamone
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Indeed, according to state statute, the county taxpayers have to pay for Berg’s failure to follow the public records law. In his claim, served on the county, he asserts that since he got and followed bad legal advice from Kenosha County Government Lawyer Joey Cardamone, the County should foot the bill.

Sam Hall – Attorney, Crivello, Nicols & Hall, S.C.

The County hired a well-known and respected law firm, Crivello, Nicols & Hall, S.C. The investigator assigned is named Attorney Sam Hall. Here is a summary of his report:

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As part of my investigation into the ethics complaint, I also conducted a telephone interview with Mr. Berg on April 23, 2024. Mr. Berg was represented by counsel, Attorney William Sulton, who also attended the interview. During the interview, Mr. Berg confirmed that he requested and obtained “hundreds” of 2023 “Kenosha County Activity Guides” (as Mr. Berg described them, but which also include a County map). I have attached an electronically formatted version of what was eventually distributed by Mr. Berg. Mr. Berg believed that he received approximately 600 of the 2023 Activity Guides to distribute and he also stapled his Kenosha County Board Supervisor business card to the Activity Guides. Mr. Berg acknowledged that the 2023 Activity Guides and the business cards were generated using public funds and constituted Kenosha County property.

Mr. Berg indicated that he distributed all of the materials provided by the County. However, he indicated that when he distributed the materials, he did not ring any doorbells, nor did he target households with registered or likely voters – he simply dropped them at every door within his County Supervisor district. However, Mr. Berg did not deliver the materials to County residents outside of his district.

Mr. Berg indicated that these materials were dropped off over the course of two-or-three days over the course of one week, during February of 2024. When attempting to identify what specific date the materials were distributed, Mr. Berg stated that he maintained a “Re-Elect Andy Berg” Facebook page and he indicated that he took a picture of himself while dropping them at doors and posted that picture:

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The above-captured post was made on February 18, 2024. Of note, this post was made on the “Kenosha County Supervisor Andy Berg” Facebook page and also shared on Mr. Berg’s personal page that same day:

Both Mr. Berg’s personal page and his “Kenosha County Supervisor Andy Berg” contain political and/or campaign content. While Mr. Berg indicated during our interview that he posted the picture to his “Re-Elect Andy Berg” Facebook page, I was unable to locate the posting on that particular page, suggesting that either Mr. Berg was mistaken in his statement or the post has been removed.

Mr. Berg indicated that he did not drop off these materials for campaign purposes, but that instead he dropped off these materials as a “constituent service.” I inquired about what constituent service was provided in dropping off these materials and Mr. Berg responded that he was “informing [his constituents] of services and recreation that the County provides.” Mr. Berg went on to indicate that he felt that he was actually “saving the County money” by distributing the maps so that they would not need to be thrown away and that he was “being responsible” for the County maps by making sure that they were distributed to residents.

While these materials include a county map and addresses for the County’s parks (which largely remain the same over the years), the activity guide provides a listing of “2023 Events,” which detail events and recreation opportunities that already occurred. Further, the business card that was also attached does not appear to support the constituent services rationale offered by Mr. Berg.

Moreover, I did inquire whether Mr. Berg had ever distributed these materials to his constituents previously in an effort to provide this sort of constituent service or to ensure that the maps reach residents; however, Mr. Berg refused to answer that line of questioning upon the advice of legal counsel.

In summary, Mr. Berg has conceded that he obtained and distributed approximately 600 Kenosha County-owned 2023 Kenosha County Activity Guides, along with his official business card, during February of 2024, while he was in the midst of a re-election campaign. These materials were dropped off at residents’ doors, similar to what would occur during a campaign lit-drop (albeit not targeted to registered or likely voters). The fact that these materials were being distributed was also promoted by Mr. Berg on multiple social media accounts that also include political posts.

Wis. Stat. § 11.1205 provides, in relevant part, that “no person elected to state or local office who becomes a candidate for national, state, or local office may use public funds for the cost of materials or distribution for 50 or more pieces of substantially identical material distributed” after the first day that nomination papers may be circulated. In adopting this law, the legislative intent was to prevent the use of public funds for what could be viewed as political purposes during the statutory recognized campaign period. See 69 Atty. Gen. 259.

In the case of Mr. Berg’s election and pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 11.1205, starting on December 1, 2023, Mr. Berg would be prohibited from distributing of 50 or more substantially identical pieces of material paid for by the County. Importantly, Wis. Stat. § 11.1205 provides a blanket prohibition on this conduct, regardless of the purported purpose or motive in distributing the materials. See 2018 Wisconsin ETH 03 (“the intent of the sender is irrelevant to the analysis of whether the 50-piece rule is violated by a given communication.”)

As such, the purported “constituent services” rationale for the distribution of these materials is of no consequence to the analysis of whether Mr. Berg’s conduct violated Wis. Stat. § 11.1205. From my review, there appears to be probable cause to believe that Mr. Berg violated Wis. Stat. § 11.1205; however, enforcement of that statute is expressly left to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. See Wis. Stat. § 11.1205(1)(d).

First, the only “constituent service” that Mr. Berg described in my interview of him was explained as “informing [his constituents] of services and recreation that the County provides.” However, this explanation defies logic since the materials being provided described services and recreation that had already occurred. Moreover, there is no evidence that Mr. Berg ever conducted similar “constituent services” previously, outside of an election cycle.

Next, while Mr. Berg’s distribution of these materials was allegedly not targeted to registered voters or likely voters, the materials were distributed solely to residences within Mr. Berg’s district in a manner very similar to a campaign lit-drop, complete with Mr. Berg’s official business card stapled to the cover of the materials.

Finally, I believe that it is also relevant that Mr. Berg publicized his distribution of these materials on at least two different social media pages. Mr. Berg stated that he posted about this distribution on his “Re-Elect Andy Berg” Facebook page; however, I have been unable to verify whether that is accurate. Nonetheless, it was posted (and continues to be accessible) on the “Kenosha County Supervisor Andy Berg” Facebook page and Mr. Berg’s personal Facebook page. Both of these pages appear to have been used for political commentary and campaigning and the promotion of the distribution of these materials on social media certainly also supports the conclusion that the County-owned materials were used for campaign purposes, contrary to County Code.

Recommendations

In accordance with § 19.11-1 of the Kenosha County Ethics Code, I conclude that there is probable cause that the Ethics Code was violated and, as such, I recommend that the ethics complaint and the details of this investigation be forwarded to the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office for potential prosecution.

Kenosha County sent the report to the Milwaukee County DA’s office. Three weeks later, Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Westphal reversed dozens of years of precedent and seemed to ignore the law. He said “there was no evidence that public funds were expended for the distribution of the maps.” Plainly put, Westphal lied. It took KCE one day to obtain the records proving the county paid for the maps:

In fact, the County paid over $6,000 for the maps. “ADA Westphal’s lazy ‘investigation’ and decision to take no action sets a dangerous precedent for elected officials. He’s giving them carte blanche to use government funds for their elections,” said an elected official who spoke with KCE.

Attorney William Sulton and Andy Berg
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Reached by KCE, Berg’s attorney, William Sulton called Attorney Hall’s report “bullshit.” The Milwaukee County DA is still deciding whether or not to charge Berg with felony theft for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars from his charitable organization garden of eatin.

Believe it or not the Kenosha news only wrote about Milwaukee County District attorney’s decision not to take action. The rag that is barely surviving omitted the count’s outside counsel’s report that sharply contrasted the Milwaukee ADAs opinion. Kenosha news reporter Joe States is a Democrat, like Berg.

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33 Responses

  1. Berg is such a hypocrite man it’s a joke. He posts about “trump” breaking the law and being above the law, as he breaks the law and walks. You can’t only want people prosecuted that fit your agenda. And thanks Andy for adding more to the tax payers, what’s a matter? Can’t use your garden of fraud account to make any more purchases?

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          1. It amazes me how much trump is in your head. This post and comment is about a local fraud. Yet you post about an irrelevant past president instead of your local news. What a sad life you must live. You are a idiot

      1. Shows that he was likely targeting his door-knocking, knowing that a snowball would survive the fiery pits of hell before a RPKC member would support Beth.

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  2. Isn’t this cute! The ACLU of Wisconsin is absent when human rights violations are happening in Wisconsin prisons and “persons in their care” are hiring private council to defend their rights Sutton is playing hold my cock with Berg and Roberts in Kenosha. Trust me, the “persons in their care” recognize this, white, black, brown and yellow.

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  3. Kevin, file a john doe complaint and by pass the da office. It will allow the criminal matter to go directly to a judge and he will review it and if deemed to be a valid criminal act. The judge can proceed with changes

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  4. ‘Ya win some ‘ya lose some.

    A guy like Berg will ultimately use up political favors and one day become more of a liability than an asset to those who support him……and when that day comes they will throw him under the bus.

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  5. Let’s remember that Milwaukee DA John Chisholm’s office put a Milwaukee County employee in prison 6 months for making one campaign call on her personal cell phone as she walked to her car at the end of the day. He somehow found the crime, the time, and the manpower to do that, but Berg’s handing out maps that tax dollars paid for during his campaign doesn’t count? Did these maps magically appear cost free?

    Just because Berg didn’t direct the creation of these maps doesn’t mean they didn’t cost anything. Will Westphal’s logic about “not using public funds” mean that future candidates can hand out office supplies, furniture, or equipment such as copiers as “constituent services” if they were purchased before campaign season? His take is insane and insulting to taxpayers.

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  6. People say that we need new laws for any number of problems we have in society.

    But in reality all we have to do is enforce existing laws to their fullest extent. Period !!

    Society requires we punish offenders when they break the law. Otherwise others will think they won’t be held responsible when they break the law.

    This is what’s happened here. A law was broken and society has allowed the law breaker to go free !

    And I blame this on society because it’s society that votes these weak woke politicians, legal and otherwise into office.

    There will be less crime when crime itself is punished to its fullest extent.

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  7. 1)Andy Berg corrupt with his friend Anthony Kennedy.
    2)John Steinbrick Jr. And the whole Pleasant Prairie gang corrupt.
    3)Gravely DA corrupt. He could have sent it to the attorney general’s office
    Instead of Milwaukee DA where it’s a joke. Actually Gravely probably the
    most corrupt.
    Gravely sent Steinbrick case to the Racine DA another joke.

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  8. They feel they can get away with ANYTHING … and they’re right ….. because lazy “conservatives”, by-and-large, have a 30 year history of letting anyone just walk all over them.
    Heads in the clouds most of the time.
    This has been changing somewhat recently – since things seem to have gotten bad enough ….

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    1. I guess those of us who consider themselves ‘conservatives’ shoulder some of the blame but in Kenosha, for many years, the Democrats and Unions found politicians to march in lockstep with voters who were scared shitless about losing their high paid manufacturing jobs and benefits so voted Democrat.
      ‘Ya can’t really blame them. But that was then—and this is now—and those nice fat union manufacturing jobs are long gone.

      Of course there is a new breed of Democrat grifter with liberal values that have nothing in common with those who went before them….although there are a few of the old time grifter parasites like Bob Wirch, Tod Ohnstad, and even Pete Barca attempting at another dip on the back of taxpayers.

      And so it goes in K-Town.

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  9. So Gravely turns this case over to the criminally liberal Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm . Chisholm should be in prison for the entire John Doe persecution of Scott Walker. Chisholm is responsible for more deaths in Milwaukee than Covid . And Matt Westfal is his hand picked replacement. Groomed , you might say. Berg is a Democrat . He’s part of The Club . He gets off Scott Free.

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