(BurnettWire.com) -- In a letter to the editor in this week’s Amery Free Press, Dan Steffen, former Polk County District Attorney and current Assistant District Attorney for Burnett and Washburn counties, objects to a news story printed about him Dec. 28 in the Amery Free Press.

Steffen says in his letter to the editor that the Free Press story was “incredibly misleading” and “Fake News.”

The article published in the Amery Free Press stated that according to findings released in November 2017 by the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, Steffen violated campaign finance laws and parts of the ethics code during his 2016 re-election bid. 

The article went to state that Steffen violated campaign finance laws by falsely maintaining that he was exempt from financial reporting and that when he exceeded the threshold of allowable expenses, he failed to notify the commission. 

Additionally, the article stated that Steffen violated the state ethics code by utilizing Polk County District Attorney’s Office supplies to print campaign-related documents as well as using his state email address to send four (4) campaign-related emails to his office staff. 

Finally, the article stated that Steffen was ordered to pay $500 to the Ethics Commission for the finance violations, and $20 to the Polk County as reimbursement for the office supplies.

Attorney Dan Steffen's full letter to the Editor was published in the Amery Free Press on Jan. 24, 2018 and reads as follows:

‘Setting the record straight’ 

To the Editor,

In your Dec. 28, 2017 edition, Jessica de la Cruz ran an article regarding my recent Settlement Agreement with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. I felt the article was incredibly misleading and feel the need to set the record straight. 

Just prior to the election a supporter and friend of my opponent filed an ethics complaint against me with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. This was clearly election related. Politics are dirty. Two investigators came from Madison and spent TWO WEEKS in Polk County investigating this matter. In the end, we reached a SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT to put this matter in the past, where it belongs. As to the ethics violations allegations, it was agreed that I made a handful of copies in my office during non-work hours. I was asked to reimburse the county TWENTY DOLLARS and I agreed. It was also agreed that I sent 4 emails to the rest of the office (again, at times when I was not working) notifying them of the upcoming parades. I WAS NOT FINED OR SANCTIONED FOR THIS. That was sum and total of the findings of the two week long investigation. I acknowledged all of this. I would be willing to wager most county employees have done the same or similar, but that’s no excuse.

As far as the campaign finance laws, there was no investigation. My committee was exempt from filing due to the face that in the previous election, I had run unopposed and had no expenses or contributions. I was told I could amend my committee at any time. At the end of my campaign, I accurately and completely disclosed every expense and contribution that I received and incurred. When it was filed, I was informed that I needed to amend my committee as soon as the $2,000 threshold was met. It was a misunderstanding. I missed that deadline. It was my mistake and I AGREED to pay a $500 fine to put this matter in the past. Nothing dishonest or intentional about anything that I did.

I explained all of this to Ms. de la Cruz but, of course, she left it out of her article. In fact, after speaking, she told me she was considering whether or not to run the article. But of course she did, complete with my picture. 

Now I know what President Trump means by “Fake News.”


Daniel P. Steffen

Former Polk Co. District Attorney

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