The Waupaca High School and its football team, the Waupaca Comets, are endorsing a Democratic state Senate candidate judging from the look of a new campaign mailer that some Wisconsin voters are getting. That’s not actually the case, of course, but that’s certainly the impression Brian Smith’s campaign is giving voters in the hotly contested 14th Senate District.
Smith, a former teacher and football coach at the Waupaca High School, and mayor of Waupaca, is attempting to unseat GOP state Sen. Luther Olsen. A glossy mailer sent by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin on behalf of the Smith campaign features three pictures of the candidate decked out in Waupaca High football swag and talking to what appear to be two football players wearing Comets jerseys.
While it is not illegal for a candidate to wear the logo of a local team, what would raise questions is if the high school gave Smith access to its facilities for photos that were subsequently used in an explicitly partisan political mailing.
Although he is a former coach and teacher at Waupaca High School, Smith is not listed on the school’s current staff list. Additionally, past or present employment does not entitle candidates to use public resources like a school facility for partisan purposes.
In October, the Republican Party of Wisconsin criticized Smith for using his government email address to help organize his partisan political campaign.
Smith has been endorsed by the liberal CapTimes of Madison.