Borchardt: 'I didn't want to file an Ethics Complaint but I guess I'll have to.'
Former Ald. Dorothy Borchardt complained to the Madison Common Council and City Attorney Michael May about endorsements Ald. Mark Clear sent out regarding Tuesday's elections.
Clear's email, sent out Tuesday, reminded people to vote and then listed "Mark's Endorsements: County Board district 4: Brett Hulsey, Court of Appeals: Brian Blanchard, School Board: No formal endorsement, but I support James Howard."
In her letter to May and the Council, Borchardt writes: "I believe that to be in violation of the Madison Ethics Ordinance and if it isn't ... it should be. I'm asking for an advisory opinion from your office in order to inform the alders and supervisors that using city resources to influence the outcome of elections is prohibited."
Clear responded in a subsequent email, saying although his city email address was listed at the top of the message, it was in fact sent out using his personal email address. "A technical glitch caused the 'from' address to be incorrectly shown as cityofmadison.com, however it did not originate from or use any city-owned equipment or personnel," he wrote.
To which Borchardt responded: "I didn't want to file an Ethics Complaint but I guess I'll have to. All I wanted to do is to get some clarification of what the current Ethics Ordinance allows elected officials to get away with and what needs to be changed. You, as Council Pro Tem, should be setting an example. Even the appearance of unethical behavior on your part is a wrong message to send."
City Attorney May is out of town and could not be reached for comment. Acting City Attorney Roger Allen says the ethics code "appears to restrict only employee activity. Whether an elected official is an employee or not, I don't know off hand." He said May and the city's Ethics Board would need to provide a definitive answer.