The Double Bind Of Candidate For Governor And Construction Magnate Tim Michels
MADISON, Wis. – The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today that it will be nearly impossible for Tim Michels to avoid conflicts of interest with his family’s company if he becomes governor.
For months, Michels has not provided any details as to how he will accomplish forsaking his stake in Wisconsin’s largest construction company. Michels Corp. has received over $1.1 billion from Wisconsin for construction projects since 2014, and Michels has said he hopes the company he currently co-owns with his brothers will continue to compete for state contracts if he wins the race for governor.
The inextricable link between Michels and his family business has raised several red flags for legal experts and Wisconsinites concerned about ulterior motives in state government.
The Journal Sentinel reports that state law requires the governor to sign road construction contacts worth more than $1,000 while also barring public officials from taking actions that would benefit them financially.
Michels’ refusal to explain how he would set aside his interest in his family business is alarming, and experts say the options available to Michels to avoid conflicts of interest are both limited and insufficient due to the nature of Michels’ family business. Anne-Marie Rhodes, a professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a specialist in estate planning, describes Michels’ path to avoiding such conflicts of interest as “a really narrow one along a very steep cliff.”
Michels’ self-interests have been on full display since he entered the race for governor. Michels previously said he hoped the failed Foxconn deal that his company earned millions from could be revived and last week supported a flat tax proposal that would primarily benefit the wealthiest Wisconsinites – including Michels and his family.
“This new reporting solidifies what we’ve known for months: Tim Michels is a walking conflict of interest who is running for governor only to enrich himself and his family,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Hannah Menchhoff. “Tim Michels has shown that the only decisions he is capable of making are those that would benefit himself and his family – not Wisconsin.”