St. Croix Co. Democrats confused after charges against Waukesha official who lives outside district

By: - November 15, 2021 12:33 pm
Rep. Shannon Zimmerman

Rep. Shannon Zimmerman is sworn in on Jan. 8. (Rep. Shannon Zimmerman | Facebook)

After a local official in Waukesha County was charged with seven felonies this week following allegations that she doesn’t live in her district, Democrats in St. Croix County and the surrounding area expressed  outrage over the disparate treatment of the Waukesha County official compared with Rep. Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls), who they say is lying about where he lives

Kathleen Cummings, who has served as both a Waukesha County Supervisor and a City of Waukesha alderwoman for two decades, resigned abruptly earlier this week. On Wednesday, she was charged with seven felonies following an investigation that found she had moved to a new home outside of her district in 2012 while continuing to use the old home’s address, which she still owns, for voting and official paperwork. 

Cummings is facing five counts of false swearing, each tied to oaths she had taken between 2015 and 2019, and two counts of election fraud. 

After a city official learned Cummings had moved a half-mile away from her voting address this spring, the case was referred to an outside agency, the Walworth County District Attorney’s Office, and then that county’s sheriff’s office investigated. Using utility bills, interviews with neighbors and searches of both homes, the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office found that Cummings no longer lived at the Roberta Ave. address she listed as her official residence — including on paperwork used when she ran for a seat on the state Assembly. 

Cummings, a Republican, was investigated by a Republican sheriff and is being prosecuted by Walworth County DA Zeke Wiedenfeld, also a Republican. She is scheduled for an initial appearance in court next week. 

The contours of the case against Cummings are similar to allegations against Zimmerman for which, so far, whistleblowers have been unable to find recourse. 

For years, Zimmerman has used separate addresses for voting and tax purposes. Zimmerman has claimed Wisconsin’s lottery tax credit on his $500,000 home in the Pierce County town of Clifton, which is not in the 30th District that he represents. State law requires that only a “primary residence” is eligible for that tax credit. 

Zimmerman lists his voting address as a home in River Falls, within the district, which he says he shares with his son. Zimmerman’s wife, Angela, lists the Clifton home as her voting address. Zimmerman also listed his Clifton address when he incorporated an LLC in Florida in 2018. 

In 2020, a complaint was filed against Zimmerman with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. In 2021, the commission ruled that there was no reasonable suspicion Zimmerman doesn’t live in the district. On the commission is Republican Dean Knudson, a supporter of and donor to Zimmerman’s campaigns who previously represented the same district. 

Area residents, having exhausted their options administratively, tried to pursue criminal action against Zimmerman. The Pierce County District Attorney recused herself from the investigation and it was moved to the Polk County District Attorney’s Office. 

In a letter, Polk County District Attorney Jeffrey Kemp, a Republican, stated that he couldn’t bring charges against Zimmerman because the proper place for a complaint was the state Attorney General and the WEC had already made an administrative ruling in Zimmerman’s favor. 

The Walworth County DA was able to bring charges against Cummings without a ruling of probable cause from the WEC or a complaint made to the Attorney General. 

Sarah Yacoub, a Democrat who ran against Zimmerman in the 2020 election, says he needs to be held accountable for misleading voters. 

“Politicians are not above the law,” she says. “Zimmerman has been exploiting the good nature of his voters for over five years now. With civilians and now another public officeholder getting prosecuted for voter and/or election fraud, it’s time Shannon take responsibility and resign; it’s time that the law apply to him as it would apply to anyone else and he face charges for his ongoing felonious conduct. To be clear, Shannon doesn’t live in the basement of his kid’s twin home, as Shannon himself acknowledges is true in his own tax and business filings.”

Neither Kemp nor Zimmerman responded to a request for comment.

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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.

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