Fired Staffer Files Ethics Complaint Against Baldwin

A fired staffer alleges Baldwin made false statements to cover up actions by her chief of staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A fired staffer alleges Baldwin made false statements to cover up actions by her chief of staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted April 20, 2015 at 7:18pm

A former deputy state director for Sen. Tammy Baldwin has lodged a complaint, asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the Wisconsin Democrat for “making false statements and representations to cover up actions by her chief of staff” and protect the first-term senator’s political career.  

The 38-page complaint from Marquette Baylor, first reported by state media outlets,  marks the latest development in a controversy within a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Medical Center that’s fueled criticism of both Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson  for allegedly mishandling whistleblower complaints. Baylor, who led Baldwin’s operation in Milwaukee, was fired in January after the senator came under scrutiny. “After the public outcry, Senator Baldwin immediately sought to place the blame squarely on me,” the complaint states. “She instructed her Chief of Staff, Bill Murat, to fly to Milwaukee, fire me, and offer me a severance package that required me to stay quiet. Murat then moved into damage control, meeting with individuals in Wisconsin and telling them that the inaction was my fault.”  

Marc Elias, an attorney representing Baldwin, had previously issued a statement explaining Baylor was ousted because her long-term performance on a range of issues did not meet the senator’s expectations for effective constituent service.  

On Monday evening, Baldwin’s communications director responded with a statement asserting the ex-staffer had chosen to be “used as a pawn” by Republican opponents “in what is nothing more than political hit job by a ‘go-to Republican firm,’” referring to a reports of an ethics complaint from the Wisconsin GOP.  “Senator Baldwin has taken responsibility for mistakes in her office, including Marquette Baylor’s and others, and she has taken steps so that these kind of mistakes never happen again,” spokesman John Kraus said in an email to CQ Roll Call that detailed what the senator viewed as Baylor’s shortcomings.  

“This partisan political drama isn’t going [to] distract from Senator Baldwin’s commitment to work in a bipartisan way to get to the bottom of the problems at the Tomah VA and make sure they never happen again,” Kraus continued. “She remains focused on ensuring that our Wisconsin veterans receive the timely, safe, and highest-quality care that they have earned.”