Republican Tim Michels won’t answer simple questions about avoiding conflict of interest

Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor Tim Michels speaks during a campaign stop at a bar on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Baraboo, Wisc. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

By Joe Zepecki
October 11, 2022

Tim Michels, the Trump-backed Republican nominee for Governor, is facing growing scrutiny related to the family business he’s placed at the center of his campaign. The Michels Corporation has received more than $1 billion in road building contracts from the State of Wisconsin in the last eight years alone. 

If elected Governor, Michels – a co-owner of Michels Corporation – would be required to sign every state contract for road building that totals more than $1,000. That scenario would put Michels in direct conflict with Wisconsin state law that prohibits elected officials from taking actions that directly impacts their financial well-being. 

According to new reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “the Michels campaign and company have not answered questions from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about how Michels would handle state road contracts (if elected). The campaign and company also would not answer questions about if Michels’ plan to divest includes selling shares of his business to his brothers or another family member. Or, if he’ll have a chance to buy back ownership of the company in the future.

That refusal to disclose how Michels plans to avoid conflicts of interest has been met with deep skepticism by experts in estate planning and complicated financial transactions. 

In addition to being in a position to influence hundreds of millions of dollars in road building contracts, Michels could also play a decisive role in authorizing the rerouting of Enbridge’s Line 5, work that the Michels Corporation is poised to complete if the state approves of the project. If authorized, that project alone could mean millions of dollars in new wealth for the Michels family.

There’s nothing wrong with successful business people who have made millions of dollars from state contracts holding public office – but something smells when such an individual refuses to answer straightforward questions about how they will avoid conflicts of interest if serving the public.

Mr. Michels refusal to answer those questions will likely only lead to more questions about what kind of steward of taxpayer dollars Michels would be, and who’s interests he’d have top of mind if elected governor.


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