County to investigate Trueblood comments
The Marathon County Executive Committee on Monday voted to hire outside counsel to investigate comments county clerk Kim Trueblood made on Facebook.
In the Facebook post, Trueblood, a member of “Parents for Wausau Schools Reopening,” told another member of the group that she, as county clerk, had to “be very careful with what I support publicly,” but that “I can get info and do anything behind the scenes.”
The clerk’s social media post was first reported by the Wausau Pilot and Review.
County administrator Lance Leonhard said county employees, including the county clerk, are free to participate in politics, but no one is free to misadminister elections to serve a political agenda.
Tricia Zunker, Wausau school board president, has questioned whether Trueblood meant meddling in elections as doing “anything behind the scenes.” Zunker is a Democratic candidate for the Seventh District House of Representatives seat challenging Rep. Tom Tiffany, a Republican. Trueblood is married to Bruce Trueblood, a former Marathon County Republican Party chairman.
Leonhard said he took complaints about Trueblood’s social media comments “very seriously” and met both with Trueblood and county board chairman Kurt Gibbs on Friday to discuss the clerk’s allegedly “offensive comments.”
The administrator said it is a responsibility of the county board to ensure that county employees, including two elected officers, clerk and treasurer, remain true to the county’s code of ethics.
“Marathon County is committed to the highest standards of conduct by and among public officials and employees in the performance of their public duties,” reads the code of conduct. “Individual and collective adherence to high ethical standards by public officials and employees is central to the creation of and maintenance of public trust and confidence in Marathon County Government.”
State law gives the county board power to remove a county clerk or treasurer. A two thirds vote of the board is required.
Leonhard said it was up to county offi cials, not himself, to ensure that their county clerk follows the county’s code of ethics, but that following the code means watching what a person says, either verbally or in a written social media post.
“I tell people all of the time that words matter,” he said. “That is extremely true in the most important activities of life and elections are one of those important things.”
Kim Trueblood did not immediately return a phone call requesting a comment. The Marathon County Executive Committee expects to have results from the outside counsel’s investigation by Monday, Aug. 31.