Milwaukee Comes Clean
Repercussions are still being felt more than a year after a pension scandal shook the Milwaukee County political establishment.
Repercussions are still being felt more than a year after a pension scandal shook the Milwaukee County political establishment. In early 2002, it came to light that county supervisors had passed pension changes resulting in lump-sum payments in excess of $1 million for top officials ["Grading the Counties," February 2002].
In March, Gary Dobbert, the architect of the pension plan, pled guilty to felony misconduct in office for making misleading statements about the true cost of the plan. Dobbert was fined $11,000 and sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Dobbert is the only person likely to be punished legally, but many others suffered politically. County Executive Thomas Ament, who would have collected a lump sum payment of $2.3 million in addition to an annual pension of $136,000, resigned. Seven other incumbent supervisors eventually lost their seats in recall elections.
The scandal also unearthed a new political power in Scott Walker, who won the special election in 2002 to fill Ament's seat as county executive, and overwhelmingly won reelection this spring. "Scott Walker has become a little bit of a cult figure here, especially among the conservative crowd," says Chris Kliesmet, spokesman for the Citizens for Responsible Government, a group that pushed for Ament's ouster during the scandal.