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Waukesha County DA Declines Charges in Brandtjen Campaign Finance Case

Another local prosecutor declined to bring charges against a Republican state lawmaker in a campaign funding raising case.

Waukesha County’s District Attorney Sue Opper said she would not file charges against state Rep. Janel Brandtjen. But Opper said she is not clearing Brandtjen in the case.

I am simply concluding that I cannot prove charges against her. While the intercepted communications, such as audio recordings may be compelling in the court of public opinion, they are not in a court of law,” Opper said.

Wisconsin’s Ethics Commission suggested charges against Brandtjen and a handful of others in a case that investigators say saw them move money around to allegedly skirt Wisconsin’s limits on campaign donations.

Opper said the Ethics Commission investigation was based on “reasonable suspicion and then probable cause.” But she added that those “burdens are substantially lower than proof beyond a reasonable doubt which is necessary for a criminal conviction.”

Opper said the Ethic Commission could pursue a civil case against Brandtjen and the others. She also opened the door to other investigations.

This decision does not clear Rep. Brandtjen of any wrongdoing, there is just not enough evidence to move forward to let a factfinder decide,” Opper said.

She’s the fourth local prosecutor in the state to decide against filing charges.

Rep. Brandtjen responded to the news in a press release,

“I would like to thank District Attorney Sue Opper for acting upon and disposing of the Ethics Commission’s referral and her conclusion that no evidence exists to support criminal prosecution. I appreciate her willingness to meet the 60-day deadline despite her busy schedule.

The referral from the Ethics Commission came as a complete surprise to me, as it did to many of you. I was not notified of this investigation, never received the original complaints, was not afforded an opportunity to respond, and have not been provided with the investigation report—matters which, I believe, are legally required.

Given the timing of this referral, it raises suspicions of an attempt to tarnish my character before the upcoming fall election, especially considering its release on the last legislative floor date of 2024. Nevertheless, I maintain my stance that ‘I have done nothing wrong’ and will continue to stand by it.”

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