Lake Geneva campaign inquiry done; information sent to district attorney
“I’ve never seen a race in Lake Geneva that was full of the accusations that this one was,” said Police Chief Michael Rasmussen.
The complaints from the candidates, their supporters and city officials include campaign finance violations and voter tampering and allegations of slander and libel, he said.
William Chesen defeated Spyro “Speedo” Condos, 968-783.
-- Campaign finance violation: City Clerk Diana Dysktra said a mailing sent to registered voters a week before the election did not have the proper disclaimer. The two-sided, half-page sized postcard questioned Chesen’s qualifications for the position and said he is “unfit” to be mayor and “Lake Geneva can do better than Bill Chesen.” The mailing said it was paid for by “A Lot of People Who Care About Lake Geneva” and cited “Concerned Resident” as the group’s treasurer.
Police interviewed a couple suspects and several printers in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, but none took responsibility for the mailing.
Rasmussen said the case is closed, but pending new leads, the investigation could begin again.
-- Voter tampering: A woman voting by absentee ballot said one of the candidates was talking to city employees at city hall, trying to influence her vote. Rasmussen said she recently withdrew her complaint.
-- Slander: Condos said Lisa Seiser, editor of the Lake Geneva Regional News, called him a liar in public. He said at a finance, license and judicial committee meeting that two people on the police and fire commission work for the newspaper. Police learned Condos had the wrong information. The two people previously worked for the newspaper.
Rasmussen said the complaint was unfounded.
-- Libel: Chesen said the mailing mentioned previously and a cartoon that made fun of where he received his bachelor’s degree harmed his reputation. Rasmussen said the complaint was targeted at Richard Malmin, who denied responsibility for the mailing and the cartoon.
Chesen also said Malmin claimed he was working with a reporter on a story for The Janesville Gazette and called the Racine police chief and city attorney seeking information about him.
Rasmussen said defamation is hard to prove.
A complaint of possible misuse of Lake Geneva police officers was sent to the Walworth County Sheriff's Department for independent investigation. The complaint stemmed from an incident at Harborside Cafe on March 29. Rasmussen declined to comment.
Those complaints are just the major ones, Rasmussen said.
“There are other petty ones that didn’t even go this far,” he said.
The reports will be turned over to the Walworth County District Attorney’s office, which will evaluate each case to see if any charges should be filed.
“In most of these, I don’t believe there’s enough to prosecute,” Rasmussen said. He said the police department spent “too much time” investigating the complaints.
“We have three detectives, and all three were working on these cases in some aspect or another,” Rasmussen said.