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Resident cries foul on Lake Geneva election

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Kayla Bunge
January 14, 2010
— A Linn Township resident is asking the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office to investigate a complaint of possible campaign finance violations stemming from the last mayoral race in Lake Geneva.

Dick Malmin, who is a supporter of former Alderman Spyro “Speedo” Condos, is accusing Mayor Bill Chesen and Lake Geneva Area Realty owner Sal Dimiceli of skirting campaign finance laws in the placement of ads in the Lake Geneva Regional News in March 2008.


“He was getting a sweetheart deal,” Malmin said of Chesen and the price he paid for the ads.


Malmin wrote in a recent letter to the sheriff’s office that Dimiceli used his corporate account to place campaign ads in the paper March 13 and 20. Douglas Bearder, then the general manager of the paper, charged Dimiceli a special rate because he thought they were ads for his business or his charity, not for a political candidate, according to Malmin’s letter.


Condos in late March filed a complaint with the Lake Geneva police about the disparity between the price he and his supporters were paying for ads in the paper and the price Chesen and his supporters were paying.


Bearder told police Dimiceli was charged his usual rate of $450 each but should have been charged $669 each because they were political ads, according to police reports. He told police he already had notified Dimiceli of the error and Dimiceli had paid the balance, according to police reports.


Malmin wrote that the extra costs were not listed on the campaign finance report for the Friends of William P. Chesen, which is a violation of campaign finance laws, according to Malmin’s letter.


Malmin also questions whether the same thing happened with a full-page ad that ran March 27, after Condos filed his complaint with the police. The cost of the third ad was not listed on Chesen’s campaign finance report, which again is a violation of campaign finance laws, according to Malmin’s letter. If the ad was a campaign contribution from Lake Geneva Area Realty, it also was a violation of campaign finance laws, according to the letter.


“Corporations cannot contribute to campaigns,” he said. “That’s strictly prohibited.”


Malmin criticized Lake Geneva police detective Ed Gritzner for investigating the original complaint and finding “serious” infractions but never forwarding the information to the district attorney’s office for evaluation and possible prosecution.


“His only job is to investigate. His job is not to make the final determination,” he said. “That’s the job of the district attorney.”


Chief Michael Rasmussen said the complaint was not sent to the district attorney’s office because it seemed the issue had been resolved. He said the newspaper admitted the billing error and Chesen said he planned to amend his campaign finance report to include the ads.


Rasmussen said he recently has requested a copy of Chesen’s final campaign finance report since the issue has resurfaced.


Malmin said he is planning to file a similar complaint about advertisements run in support of Bill Mott, who defeated former Alderman Tom Spellman in a recall election Dec. 22.


“I don’t want to complicate it just yet,” he said.



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