City News

Ethics complaint against city council member dismissed

A citizen’s complaint against Ald. Sara Eskrich, District 13, will not move forward, after being dismissed by a city ethics committee Tuesday.

Image By: Gina Heeb

Citing lack of evidence, a city ethics committee unanimously voted to dismiss a complaint Tuesday that claimed a Madison alder used her position to help her husband and close friend open a beer garden near Lake Monona.

An attorney for Ald. Sara Eskrich, District 13, said in the hearing that the only evidence brought by the community member who filed the complaint was “connect-the-dot speculation.”

“There are no factual allegations in the complaint that would support an ethics charge,” attorney Greg Everts said. “She appropriately recused herself.”

Janet Etnier, a resident who lives near Olbrich Park—where the beer garden is set to be built—brought the complaint against Eskrich in March, accusing the alder of using her position to share “insider information” with the BKM Group, of which her husband is a co-owner.

“The ethics violations by Sara Eskrich created a cloud of suspicion,” Etnier argued. She said that Eskrich and her husband, Erik Kesting, were not transparent in their plans for the location of the beer garden or in their communication regarding funding for the business, and that she was using her position for financial gain.

Emails obtained by the Madison Ethics Board show Etnier forwarded information about the possible beer garden, and funding for it, to her husband from her City of Madison email account. However, the committee voted unanimously that this was not enough evidence of an ethics violation

“She recused herself a number of times before these issues came up,” Ethics Board member Joseph Baring said in his bid for dismissal of the complaint. “These are not factual assumptions.”

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