By AMANDA VOSS Daily News
Richfield resident Reid Snedaker filed a complaint Wednesday alleging campaign finance violations against former Richfield President Diane Pedersen with the Washington County District Attorney’s Office and the Government Accountability Board.
“Dealing with the the Village Board is like dealing with a pack of wild dogs,” Snedaker said. “You don’t know where to place your attention.
“When you have a board where every member is on the same page, it puts the residents best interest at risk,” he added.
Snedaker said he filed the complaint against Pedersen because she has a website that advocates the need to re-elect two village trustees. He said the identity of who is paying for the website is not listed.
“She hasn’t registered with the village. You have to register, if taking a political stand, and that’s not been done. It’s in violation of campaign finance laws,” Snedaker said.
The most recent complaint filed Wednesday said the violations involve Pedersen’s allegedly illegal, unregistered and anonymous campaign advocacy of trustees Dan Neu and Bill Collins’ re-election during the April 1 spring election cycle.
According to the complaint, Pedersen established a website April 24 called www.richfieldtoday.com.
He said the hosting and name registration “probably” exceeds $25.
On March 15, the complaint alleges there was a posting titled “Truth about our low taxes,” on the website.
“Ms. Pedersen expressly advocated the reelection of incumbent Richfield Village Trustees Dan Neu and Bill Collins. More specifically Ms. Pedersen said ‘To retain common sense and good judgement in their elected officials Richfield citizens must reelect Dan Neu and Bill Collins.’ At the end of the same website posting Ms. Pedersen further says ‘Stay tuned for more reasons to vote to reelect Dan Neu and Bill Collins,’” according to the complaint.
The complaint said that to the best of Snedaker’s knowledge Pedersen or anyone connected to the website hasn’t filed any campaign registration statements or reports with the Richfield Village Clerk, which is required by state statute.
According to the statute, every individual who accepts contributions in a calendar year in excess of $25 to support or oppose the election or nomination of a candidate in an election, will file a statement with the appropriate filing officer.
“Anyone that looks at the website can see it’s not a political website,” Pedersen said, adding the blogs are about various topics.
“It’s a free website. I don’t pay services,” she said.
Pedersen, who is not running for trustee in the spring election, said it’s her website and the contents are her First Amendment right of free expression. She said she understands the law as two or more people who support a candidate and spend $25 must be a political action committee.
According to the State Election Board Manual on Campaign Finance Information for PACs, Referendum Groups and Corporations, a PAC consists of at least two people who receives contributions, makes disbursements or incurs obligations for the purpose of influencing the election or defeat of candidates to a state or local office.
PACs are required to register with the State Elections Board, the county clerk, the town, city, village or district clerk in Wisconsin.
District Attorney Mark Bensen was out of the office Friday, but the District Attorney’s Office said a complaint could have been filed, but the complaint was not in the computer.
Reid Magney, spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, said he doesn’t know if a complaint was filed with the GAB.
“This is a complaint about a local issue in local campaign finance matters. We defer to the district attorney,” Magney said.
“It’s up to them to do any investigation,” he added.
He said the GAB has the ability to impose a fine if the GAB found something was wrong on state campaigns.
Because the district attorney interprets the law, Magney said the GAB won’t get into a situation where it says something is legal or illegal.
“Each case is factdependent. We don’t have all the facts. We won’t get into speculating,” Magney said Snedaker said he would like to see Pedersen respond to the laws that she’s violating and shut down the website.
Link to Wisconsin Government Accountibiliy Board PAC Manual