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Wisconsin Democrat running for Senate charged on multiple campaign finance and fraud counts

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 9/8/2021 Jeremy Beaman
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A Milwaukee alderwoman and Democratic Senate candidate was charged Tuesday for allegedly misusing thousands of dollars in campaign funds and fraudulently requesting travel reimbursements from the city.

A criminal complaint charging Chantia Lewis with four felony counts and one misdemeanor accused her of misappropriating campaign dollars by depositing them into her personal accounts and using them to pay for personal expenses. Prosecutors also accused Lewis of requesting false travel reimbursements from the city of Milwaukee and alleged she paid those expenses out of her campaign account.

In particular, the complaint alleged that Lewis, who is a pastor, used campaign funds to pay for the costs of attending a worship conference in Florida, as well as to pay tuition for Bible college classes and for family trips, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Lewis also spent campaign dollars on car payments and repairs and credit card bills, along with rent for a Milwaukee apartment, according to the complaint.

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Prosecutors further accused Lewis of “double-dipping,” alleging she asked for reimbursement for city-related travel after paying for the expenses with her campaign account. She was reimbursed for those costs but failed to repay the campaign, instead depositing the funds into a personal account, according to prosecutors.

The complaint, which was brought by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, said Lewis "defrauded the City of Milwaukee and her campaign, collectively, of at least $21,666.70," with the loss to the city being $2,250. The five counts include embezzlement, theft by fraud, misconduct in public office, and two campaign-related charges of intentionally filing a false report or statement and intentionally accepting unlawful disbursement.

Lewis asserted that she is innocent, saying she will "make the necessary corrections."

Her attorney, Jason Luczak, called the complaint "one-sided" and said prosecutors cannot establish any criminal intent.

“The criminal complaint basically only gives half the picture of the finances,” Luczak said, according to the Associated Press. “Obviously it’s a one-sided document that’s prepared by the district attorney’s office.”

Lewis, who was elected to the Milwaukee Common Council in 2016, announced a bid for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin in July. The seat held by incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who has not declared a reelection campaign, is expected to be among the most competitive seats in 2022.

The alderwoman entered a crowded Democratic primary field that includes Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Alex Lasry, an executive of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball franchise.

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The Washington Examiner reached out to Lewis and the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office for comment.

Lewis is set to appear in court on Sept. 29.

 

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Tags: News, Wisconsin, Senate, Democrats, Campaign Finance, fraud

Original Author: Jeremy Beaman

Original Location: Wisconsin Democrat running for Senate charged on multiple campaign finance and fraud counts

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