CUDAHY, Wis. (CBS 58) — Cudahy’s incumbent mayor won the April election. But now, allegations have emerged of potential fraud in the mayor’s election.
Next week, the Wisconsin Ethics Commission is expected to take up a citizen complaint about the mayor. CBS 58 has obtained that complaint. It alleges Thomas Pavlic accepted campaign.
The problems start of page 3 of Thomas Pavlic’s campaign finance report, where he lists Shazad Petroleum LLC as having given a $500 donation.
“It’s a red flag immediately if you put down LLC or INC as a donor,” said Michael Maistelman, elections campaign attorney.
Contributions from LLC’s are not always permitted, as stated in the Wisconsin Ethic Commission’s campaign finance overview.
“Both federal and state law prohibits corporations from donating to candidates and there’s an exception for sole member LLCs,” said Maistelman.
But, the rule book says, “The contribution must be reported under the name(s) of the individual owner(s).”
“What the red flag is is the check that he gave to the mayor’s campaign clearly had his corporate name on it because when they recorded it in the campaign finance report, they recorded it under the corporate name,” said Maistelman.
Pavlic told CBS 58 off camera he has since refunded the $500 in question to Shazad Petroleum LLC, and in turn, the gas station owner wrote him a check from his personal account.
A citizen filed the complaint with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. CBS 58 spoke off camera with that person, who also questions why the contact number on Pavlic’s report is the phone number of the mayor’s office.
“I think it’s pretty problematic because he’s listing his government, taxpayer funded phone number at city hall on his campaign finance reports -23 So people that want to deal with him on his campaign or campaign finance issues would actually call him at his governmental office,” said Maistelman.
Pavlic signed the report. It is unclear if he also filled out the contact number, but even if he didn’t. “Well I think the buck stops with the candidate and if the candidate’s paperwork is submitted incorrectly, and in addition if the candidate signed anything personally, you know I think he could be held responsible,” said Maistelman.
What could that mean in terms of a fine? Maistelman says anywhere from a slap on the wrist to thousands of dollars.
“Former Governor Walker was hit with a $5,000 penalty years ago regarding robo calls that he was doing and it didn’t have a disclaimer and that’s the biggest that was ever doled out,” said Maistelman.
The citizen complaint also questions a $200 contribution made by a used car lot owner who came before the Cudahy Common Council before the election, requesting to move locations, and was later granted that move.
“Unless there’s a smoking gun here you know, and it’s only the phone number and they have no other evidence, they would probably just say look don’t do this again and amend your campaign finance reports,” said Maistelman.
The Ethics Commission tells CBS 58 they can’t comment at this point, saying complaints are confidential, and only if they rule on it, will we hear anything. They will be meeting on June 15.
Pavlic says he plans to process his remaining campaign expenses, and any campaign balance will be donated to a local food pantry.