John Tate, the Tony Evers’ appointee who paroled some of the state’s most brutal killers in history without many victims’ family members knowing, has been charged with felony public corruption.
A criminal complaint obtained by WRN, confirms Tate has been charged with one felony count of “private interest in a public contract while working in a public capacity.”
According to the complaint, which was filed in Racine County on April 19, 2023, Tate was a member of the Common Council and acting as its president when a new violence interruption coordinator position was proposed and approved using COVID-19 relief money.
Tate then was hired for the job. “By applying for and negotiating the terms of his employment, he acted on behalf of his own pecuniary interest,” the complaint says.
Tate was given an initial appearance date in May and a summons ordering him to appear at it.
Tate generated controversy in May 2022 when Wisconsin Right Now and other outlets revealed that he had signed off on the parole of Douglas Balsewicz, a convicted wife killer. Gov. Tony Evers, under great pressure from the victim’s family, then requested Tate’s resignation. Tate then resigned, and he rescinded Balsewicz’s parole.
Last fall, Wisconsin Right Now highlighted a series of other paroles of some of the state’s most brutal killers and rapists, which had been granted by Tate, often without any media attention and without victims’ families knowing.
The complaint states that Tate, on or about Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, in the City of Racine, Racine County, Wisconsin, “did as a public officer or public employee, in a private capacity, negotiate, bid for, or enter into a contract in which the officer or employee has a private pecuniary interest and at the same time is authorized or required by law to participate in a capacity as a public officer or employee in the making of the contract, contrary to sec. 946.13(1)(a), 939.50(3)(i) Wis. Stats., a Class I Felony, and upon conviction may be fined not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000), or imprisoned not more than three (3) years and six (6) months, or both.”
The complaint alleges that on July 11, 2022, the City of Racine Finance and Personnel Committee, made up of five members of the City of Racine Common Council including John N. Tate II, met and unanimously approved moving forward on a communication from Mayor Mason as a resolution to the Common Council for their consideration on July 19, 2022. The communication and resolution were given file #0491-22. 0491-22, when presented to the City of Racine Common Council read as follows:
File Number: Res. 0491-22
Agenda Date: 07/19/2022 File Type: Resolution
WI ARPA Grant – $784,000
The resolution read that the Mayor and City Clerk “are granted permission to accept the WI ARPA Grant allocation in the amount of $784,000 to be allocated to public safety as presented, including authorization for the creation of a Violence Interruption Coordinator limited term employee position.”
The fiscal note said the grant amount was $784,000 with no city match required. The grant would fund an LTE position to help facilitate the process of creating a Racine version of a “Blue Print for Peace.”
At the Common Council meeting on July 19, 2022, Tate presided over the meeting as Council President, according to the meeting minutes. On July 19, 2022, the Common Council unanimously approved Resolution 0491-22, which included the creation of the Violence Interruption Coordinator Position (VICP), the complaint says.
The VICP position was advertised from Sept. 8, 2022 until Sept. 22, 2022. The
annual salary for the position was advertised at a range of $78,520.00 – $101,004.80. During the time that the posting of the position was open, there were 20 applicants. On Oct. 11, 2022, three candidates were interviewed, including Alderman Tate, who had applied for the job.
On Oct. 11, 2022, it was made public through the news media that Alderman Tate had
accepted a position with the City of Madison, the complaint says. On Oct. 13, 2022, the City of Racine e-mailed an offer to Alderman Tate for the VICP in Racine, it says.
Alderman Tate responded to Racine’s offer by requesting more salary and more vacation time, according to the complaint. After some discussion among two City officials, Public Health Administrator Dottie Kay Bowersox, and City Administrator Paul Vornholt, they agreed to the requests made by Alderman Tate and amended the offer made to him, the complaint says. The amendment raised the pay to $101,698.25 annually if he was living in the City of Racine, and provided four weeks of vacation, according to the complaint.
Additionally, Ald. Tate was offered the opportunity to participate in a $10,000 forgivable home loan program for City Employees, if he purchased a house in the City of Racine, according to the complaint.
Alderman Tate initially announced that he would resign as alderman and President of the
Council to begin the new job on Nov. 14, 2022. Alderman Tate then changed his plans and advised publicly that he would finish his term ending in April 2023 before starting the job as the VICP.