UPDATED 1:42 p.m. to include comment from Republican candidate Mike Rohrkaste
By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis. — The Neenah mail carrier who dumped hundreds of GOP political mailers in an apartment complex Dumpster wasn’t politically motivated; the postal worker just didn’t feel like delivering the stacks of campaign advertisements, according to preliminary findings from the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General.
“Based upon our investigation, this was nothing done toward a specific candidate or party. It looks like it was a decision made by the carrier, and it was not a good decision,” to not deliver the campaign advertisements, Robert Rukes, special agent with the inspector general’s office in Chicago, told Wisconsin Reporter Monday.
“A lot of times, what happened in this situation, you have a carrier who felt overwhelmed with the volume of mail so they decided to discard some of the mail without delivering,” Rukes added.
Due to the ongoing investigation, Rukes declined to identify the mail carrier, who, according to the special agent, dumped 879 pieces of political mail Thursday.
As Wisconsin Reporter first reported Sunday, the political mailings were from the campaigns of Mike Rohrkaste, Republican candidate for Wisconsin’s 55th Assembly District, and Glenn Grothman, a Republican state senator running for the open 6th Congressional District seat, as well as political messages from a special interest group in support of former state Rep. Roger Roth, a Republican who is running for Wisconsin 19th Senate District seat.
Rukes confirmed that Neenah postal officials responded to the apartment complex and verified the mailers had been unloaded in the Dumpster. A resident had witnessed the mail carrier dump the campaign literature, according to Rukes.
There were no reports that campaign mailers from Democratic Party candidates have been similarly mishandled.
The special agent said the Office of the Inspector General would present its findings to U.S. Postal Service administrators and to local or federal prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges will be filed. He said the agencies will make the final determination. Administratively, discipline could include removal from the Postal Service.
“Sometimes people just make decisions that are out of character,” Rukes said. “One thing we want to stress is that the vast majority of postal workers are honest, hard-working employees.”
Most of the mailers came from Rohrkaste’s campaign.
Rohrkaste, a retired human resources executive, is running against Democrat Mark Westphal, an industrial electrician and president of the Fox Valley Area Labor Council AFL-CIO, in the race to replace outgoing state Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, who left the Legislature to become mayor of Neenah.
Rohrkaste told Wisconsin Reporter Monday that he still finds it striking that the mishandled mailers only came from Republicans. He said he had no idea there were nearly 900 discarded political mailers, campaign literature, the Republican candidate said, that was mailed to voters in an important swing district in Neenah.
“In my mind, either reason is totally unacceptable, whether it was partisan-related or the guy is tired or lazy,” he said. “I’ve worked jobs since I was 12 years old. If you are tired, well, too bad. You do your job. That’s just how I was raised.”
“Hopefully it won’t happen to anybody again. Whatever candidate, whatever party,” Rohrkaste added.
He said U.S. Postal Service administrators who responded were extremely apologetic and assured him they would investigate and deal with the situation appropriately.
Rukes said all of the mailers had been delivered to their appointed rounds as of Friday.
The investigation continues.