State AG will not address the issue of residency


MANITOWOC – The Wisconsin attorney general’s office will not consider opening an investigation into the residence of Manitowoc city councilor Aaron Bailey unless someone files a verified complaint with their office.

The information was passed on to City Attorney Kathleen McDaniel by Assistant Attorney General Clayton Kawski on December 9 in a letter after McDaniel filed a complaint about the Bailey residence of Jon Fessler, a Manitowoc resident, and a calls for Attorney General Josh Kaul’s office to take charge of the case.

Bailey was appointed by the Common Council to take the District 7 seat on the council last spring. That same seat is running for the spring 2021 election. So far, the only person who has submitted nomination papers for that seat is Tim Boldt.

The letter was accepted and on file at the Common Council meeting on Monday.

According to the letter, once the attorney general’s office receives a verified complaint, i.e. a complaint in which the complainant swears under oath that the allegations made are true, the attorney general can then initiate an investigation and decide to declare Bailey’s seat vacant.

In his letter, Kawski refers to the laws of the state where a “residence” is defined as “the place where the person’s dwelling is fixed, without any current intention to move, and where, in his absence, the no one intends to return ”.

Kawski wrote: “Because residency is based on the intention of the individual, it is not always a black and white issue and would not necessarily be determined by where an individual sleeps on any given night. “

The question of Bailey’s residence, which is on South 22nd Street according to his Wisconsin ID card, arose when one or more residents – who have remained anonymous – submitted a report from the Hungerford Investigative Services indicating that Bailey doesn’t live where he claims to.

Manitowoc Town Council requires that each alderman be a resident of the district they represent.

The matter was then taken to Committee of the Whole, and the city hired its own private investigator, Charles Hess of CMC Investigations in Sheboygan, to prove or disprove the anonymous report.

This report includes an interview with a neighbor of the South 22nd Street residence who said she believed Bailey was living in an apartment on North Eighth Street, which is outside the neighborhood he represents; documents from a recent divorce petition that lists two addresses for Bailey; and two leases for each residence. The South 22nd Street lease does not mention Bailey as a resident, unlike that of an apartment on North Eighth Street.

The Justicia Crusaders also investigated Bailey’s address regardless of town. His report includes a signed and notarized letter from Bailey’s sister saying he lives with her and her husband at the South 22nd Street residence. Similar letters, also signed and notarized, are included from neighbors of this residence saying they believe Bailey lives on 22nd Street South.

In addition to these letters, the Crusaders of Justicia report includes voter registration for Bailey at the South 22nd Street address and letters sent to Bailey at that address – one from the child support agency in Sheboygan. and one from a garbage business where Bailey pays for the household garbage service at that residence.

On October 26, Crusaders of Justicia issued a statement calling the investigation “manual structural racism”. They asserted that the residency requirements for a public office often prevent people of color from running for such office because “poor and minority people have a lot more instability and mobility in their personal lives, which makes them a lot more unstable and mobile. harder to overcome those unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that were put in place by privileged and powerful people, most of whom enjoy the stability that comes with owning their home for long periods of time. “

The city ended its investigation on October 27 after a Committee of the Whole meeting ended with the council filing both the Hess report and the Justicia Crusaders report and took no action against Bailey.

Fessler, a Manitowoc resident, filed a complaint against Bailey’s residence with the town in November.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on November 9, council members decided to forward the complaint to Kaul’s office and ask them to resolve whether Bailey meets the city’s residency requirements for members of the advice.

During that November meeting, McDaniel said she thought it was the right call to refer the case to the Wisconsin attorney general’s office because she feared any conclusion the city comes to could be considered. as “tainted” after public allegations of racist behavior.

No further action regarding Bailey’s residence was discussed by the Common Council on Monday.

Contact Alisa Schafer at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @AlisaMSchafer.

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