Brief

Milwaukee alderwoman convicted in campaign finance case

By: - July 20, 2022 5:27 am
Chantia Lewis

Former Ald. Chantia Lewis | Courtesy of Lewis for Senate

Alderwoman Chantia Lewis was removed from office Monday following a court hearing into campaign finance charges. In September 2021, Lewis was charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor, stemming from the use of campaign funds for personal expenses. On Monday, Lewis accepted a plea deal for two felony charges for misconduct in public office and unlawfully using campaign funds. Since Lewis has been convicted of a felony, she was immediately removed from office.

A special election will be held to decide a new alder for Lewis’ district. The election will likely occur after the upcoming November election, Urban Milwaukee reported. Although a circuit court judge gets the final say, the Milwaukee County District Attorney has recommended full restitution, a year in the House of Corrections, and three years of probation. The judge will decide whether maximum penalties of 3.5 years in prison and $10,000 for each felony will be imposed. Lewis’ sentencing hearing will occur in late August.

Lewis,  42, an  Air Force veteran and ordained minister, was first elected in 2016. She ran on a promise to restore commercial areas of her district. Last July, Lewis filed to run for U.S. Senate. Her plans were derailed when charges were filed against her in September 2021. Lewis was accused of submitting false reimbursement requests to the city, failing to report contributions, and trying to circumvent maximum contribution limits. Two of the felony charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

A criminal complaint also details Lewis’ use of  campaign funds to cover tuition costs at a Bible college. Lewis also was accused of using funds for an automobile loan, a personal credit card bill, car repairs and expenses at a Las Vegas hotel. Travel expenses for family trips to Georgia and the Wisconsin Dells are also included. According to Urban Milwaukee, Lewis filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and then again in 2008.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson emphasized the importance of holding those who break the law accountable in a statement. “City officials hold a public trust,” said Johnson, “and every one of us has an obligation to the people of Milwaukee to operate with the highest level of integrity. I expect that of every member of my administration and of all my colleagues in elective office.”

This article has been edited to specifically state that the special election for former Ald. Chantia Lewis’ district will likely occur after the November election.

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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.

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