WI Sen. Leader Indicted for Laundering Contributions through Union PAC He Controlled

The Milwaukee Dist. Attny. announced on Oct. 17 the indictment of Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Chvala on charges of laundering campaign contributions through a union-backed political action committee (PAC) in violation of state law.

The indictment appears to have been filed just one day after Chvala’s chief of staff, Doug Burnett, agreed to cooperate with investigators and plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges. Chvala faces three counts of extortion, seven counts of misconduct in public office and 10 campaign finance violations. Nine of those charges allege that Chvala conspired to funnel campaign contributions to PACs he controlled, in violation of Wisconsin law barring such coordination between PACs and candidates.

The largest of these was Independent Citizens for Democracy (ICD), which in 2000 received over $200,000 from Local affiliates of the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers, Laborers’ Intl Union of N. Amer., and the Amer. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees. According to the D.A. complaint, Chvala and Burnett directed the so-called “independent expenditures” of ICD, through ICD Dir. Thomas Boeder and Treas. Scott McCormick, to three legislative candidates: Senators Mark Meyer of La Crosse, Dave Hansen of Green Bay and Alice Clausing of Menomonie. ICD was the 2nd biggest spender in the 2000 campaign, behind the Wisc. Educ. Assn. Council.

According to Burnett, Chvala would direct lobbyists to write checks either directly to ICD and other groups he controlled, or to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Cmte. in Washington, D.C., which then transferred the funds to ICD. [Wisconsin State Journal  10/18/02]