Burke says she wasn't involved in Trek dispute
MADISON — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke cites jobs she helped create at her family's bicycle company as a prime reason Wisconsin voters should trust her, rather than Republican Gov. Scott Walker, with the state's economy. Company leaders, however, previously credited Trek Bicycle Corp.'s relationship with now-disgraced Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong with a sales spike during the early 2000s.
Burke's claims also raise the question of what she knew about the company's efforts to muffle accusations, later proven true, that Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs. As Armstrong rode Trek bikes to victory in seven straight Tour de France appearances, Trek benefited from what was known as "The Lance Effect" and became the nation's top-selling bike manufacturer and a Wisconsin success story.
Burke is trying to capitalize on that good will in her campaign. In her announcement video, Burke stands in what appears to be a bike repair shop talking about the company her father founded "in a barn in Waterloo" in 1976.
"Helping to turn my family's business into a global company has been a big part of my life," Burke said in the video. "Now I'd like to help make our great state of Wisconsin even better as your governor."
Burke spent two different periods working at Trek. She served as its European operations director from 1990 to 1993, "growing the business from the ground up in seven European countries," according to her official biography. Burke told The Associated Press in a recent interview that work led to more jobs for the company back in Wisconsin.
Burke left briefly to work for a bicycling trade organization but returned to Trek in 1995, working for the next nine years as director of strategic planning and forecasting. She said that work, which she did in Wisconsin, involved analyzing markets, aligning manufacturing schedules with anticipated sales and managing the supply and inventory of Trek products to make the company more efficient, and ultimately, more profitable.
She was at the company in 1998 when it signed Armstrong, who was recovering from testicular cancer. His string of seven Tour de France victories began the next year.