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Unfortunately, it's becoming more commonplace for government officials to use taxpayer resources for political activity.  The newest to the list is Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic using her government email account to coordinate a campaign meeting with Voces de la Frontera.

A recent open records request made by El Conquistador reveals that Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic had used her public email account late last year to coordinate a campaign meeting with Voces de la Frontera.  On November 28th, 2011, Vanessa Ramos - an assistant of Christine Neumann Ortiz -  sent a request to Supervisor Dimitrijevic to schedule meeting for December 2 in order "to discuss your plans for re-election."  Dimitrijevic used her public email account, at 2:53 pm on November 28th, to confirm her meeting for 1 pm on Friday.

To some, this may seem like a small office issue, but not to Supervisor Dimitrijevic.  When El Conquistador contacted her last year to inquire about her endorsement of Penny Sikora, she told us matter-of-factly, "It is illegal for me to use my publicly support [sic] email to discuss campaigns.  I cannot campaign or discuss this matter using taxpayer resources.  Please do not contact my county office again regarding campaigns."

From her response, it appears that Supervisor Dimitrijevic has a good grasp on the legality of using public resources for campaign purposes - enough so to tell a community newspaper to stop contacting her.  Yet, she didn't tell Voces de la Frontera she couldn't coordinate a campaign meeting using the same taxpayer resources, which she admitted was illegal.

El Conquistador will continue to monitor County Supervisors to ensure our government is transparent about the use of taxpayer resources.

Comments (4)
  • John

    It is perfectly legal to use a government email to confirm a scheduling request sent to that email. The reason for the exception is that most public officials have one calendar and it is not feasible to keep two.

    This is now the second time you are criticizing her for your misread of a law.

  • Aaron M. Rodriguez

    Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the Federal Hatch Act. The Hatch Act prohibits the use of government resources, including email accounts, for political purposes.

  • John  - Wrong On Hatch Act

    The Hatch Act is a federal law and relates only to federal government (military, federal employees, etc.) and regulates what people can do while they are employed by the federal government as it relates to partisan activity. It has absolutely nothing to state and local government email/phones nor nonpartisan campaigns.

    Once again, state law allows email and phones to be used for scheduling if the schedule of an elected official if that schedule is maintained in a government office. That is considered a reasonable allowance since it is not feasible to maintain two schedules.

    You guys really need to understand the laws before you start to publish criticisms.

  • Aaron M. Rodriguez

    The Hatch Act is a federal law, but applies to local government when said government receives funding from the federal government, which Milwaukee County does in fact do.

    Also, with respect to non-partisan campaigns, the Hatch Act does apply if the campaign is shown to bear fruits of partisanship. I'm pretty sure you don't want me posting evidence that Dimitrijevic's campaign/PAC is partisan.

    You unreasonably suppose that we have not studied the Hatch Act before publishing. This is not the case. Instead of doing cursory searches over the web, take time to read the fulness of the Hatch Act on multiple sites and/or the commonly asked questions regarding the Hatch Act.

    I wouldn't be surprised if someone filed a John Doe on Dimitrijevic's emails, since ordinary folks can file John Doe investigations. A local Judge in Milwaukee County would have to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate if a John Doe is filed. I think it might be fascinating to see what is unearthed on the new Chairwoman of the County Board, don't you?

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