By Collin Roth
On April 2, Republican State Representative Don Pridemore issued a press release endorsing a Republican presidential candidate for Wisconsin’s GOP presidential primary election. This is hardly uncommon given the importance of the primary and efforts by other state legislators to align themselves with one of the national Republican candidates. The problem though is Rep. Pridemore may have used official state resources to make his campaign endorsement.
The clue is that Rep. Pridemore’s endorsement press release as reported by WisPolitics cites his taxpayer funded phone number in the state Capitol. When Media Trackers called the number to inquire about the press release, a staffer responded via email that they could not respond because the matter bordered on being a campaign issue.
Subsequent calls and an open records request for the original copy of the release have been ignored. Media Trackers wants to know if the original press release was sent out on official office letterhead.
This may not be the first time Rep. Pridemore has used state resources for campaign purposes. In 2009, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a complaint with the GAB when official staffers for Pridemore issued a press release from their state email address. The GAB fined Pridemore $300 for the violation.
Rep. Pridemore has been in office for nearly eight years and should know the rules applying to the separation of campaign resources and official taxpayer funded resources. Particularly given the recent scrutiny of such issues and because his office has been fined in the past.