By Mark Belling, WISN-AM
An update to this story can be found here.
A federal grand jury is investigating corruption in Milwaukee city government with at least two, and potentially more, members of the Common Council involved.
It is unclear how expansive the probe is but part of the focus is on potentially illegal attempts to induce elected officials to deliver public policy decisions. Federal grand jury investigations are led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and are secret. They normally include investigations by the FBI. But word of this probe is getting as out as the investigation appears to be advanced and a number of individuals have already been questioned.
The entire common council is up for reelection early next year and the filing period to take out nominating papers begins in a few weeks. It is possible that aldermen linked to the probe will not for reelection. This would set off a local political frenzy as council jobs are considered golden with many aldermen serving for decades. They pay is currently $82,000 a year and Mayor Cavalier Johnson wants to jack it up to $94,000. In addition, the pension and other benefits are lavish and laws governing the use of campaign contributions are loose. In other words, these are great gigs.
Over the last several decades, there have been multiple investigations of Milwaukee aldermen and several major criminal convictions. The most recent, involving former Alderman Chantia Lewis, was a state investigation led by the Milwaukee County District Attorney. But most of the others were federal including probes that led to the convictions of Aldermen Michael McGee Jr., Jeff Pawlinski, Rosa Cameron and Paul Henningsen. The most recent conviction was of former Alderman Willie Wade who served four months in prison in connection with a broad investigation into the strip bar chain known as Silk.
Almost all of these corruption cases related, in one way or another, to aldermen receiving money from persons seeking to get what they wanted from the city, or cases of misuse of campaign contributions for personal matters. It is believed the current probe is along those lines.
As no one has been charged, I am not naming any of the officials who appear to be subjects of the investigation. It is common for subjects to eventually be notified by the feds and in some cases the targets become cooperative. That could happen here.
Rumors have circulated for years about which Milwaukee aldermen are being bought off and every decade or so some seem to get caught and convicted.
This was originally published on Belling.com. Republished with permission.