CHIPPEWA COUNTY — On Wednesday morning, Chippewa County Sheriff Travis Hakes issued the following statement to media:
"Late Tuesday night, September 19, 2023, like many of the residents and constituents of Chippewa County I was shocked and dismayed to learn from media reports that it appears that the power structure of Chippewa County in the form of at least some commissioners and administration, are apparently unhappy with the fact that I have a constitutional duty to independently act in the best interests of Chippewa County residents, rather than to cater to their whims and caprices, have voted to initiate action against me as the duly elected county sheriff. This cabal of those that wish to thwart the decision of Chippewa County voters in electing who they want as sheriff, as reported in the media, have sunk so low as they will be considering to take action in an attempt to remove me from office. I intent to resist that effort with every ounce of my being and I assure the voters I will not let these few autocrats deny you the right to select your chief county law enforcement officer.
"The action of the county board, apparently in conjunction with county administration, was with taken without even the pretense of due process or fundamental fairness to me or the Office of Sheriff. It was taken in a Star Chamber setting in which not only the public, but I was excluded from participation in any meeting and denied even the chance to be informed about what allegations the Board considered or to present my side of whatever false narrative they acted upon. To my knowledge no formal complaint has ever been filed against me, nor presented to me and the Board took this action without even inviting or asking me to appear before it. In America we believe in due process and that includes the right to be advised of charges against us and the right to confront and examine the evidence used against us. That is apparently an American value that this Board does not share, and for that fact the voters of this county should be especially disappointed.
"I realize that in many parts of this country it has become politically fashionable to disparage and bash law enforcement officers for doing their jobs. It is sad to see that these people have climbed on that bandwagon. I take my oath of office to support and defend the constitution very seriously and that includes protection from unconstitutional and over reaching acts by other elected officials and their minions. I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name and reputation from the false and defamatory actions of these selected few individuals."
-- Sheriff Travis C. Hakes.
It is not clear exactly what the alleged misconduct was/is. However, on Wednesday afternoon, the Chippewa County Administrator issued the following statement regarding the motion Tuesday night.
CHIPPEWA COUNTY BOARD MOTION REGARDING SHERIFF TRAVIS HAKES
"On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, the Chippewa County Board held a closed session for the following purpose:
The County Board of Supervisors will convene in Closed Session pursuant to Wisconsin State Statutes Sec. 19.85(1)(f) “Considering financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons, preliminary consideration of specific personnel problems or the investigation of charges against specific persons...which, if discussed in public, would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of any person referred to in such histories or data, or involved in such problems or investigations." (Regarding workplace concerns raised by a specific County employee pursuant to Chapter 7, Section 69, of the Chippewa County Human Resources Policy Manual, concerns of the conduct of a specific County official, and direction from the Board and for administration)
The County Board approved the following motion as the result of the closed session:
Motion to direct the County Administrator, County Board Chair, and administration on behalf of the County Board to author a letter to Sheriff Hakes expressing the County Board’s extreme disapproval of his alleged behavior. The County Board expects that Sheriff Hakes immediately come into compliance with all Chippewa County and Sheriff’s Office policies, leadership training, and expectations identified by the Administrator. Furthermore, this matter is to be referred to the Chippewa County District Attorney’s Office. Finally, this matter will also be addressed by the Board on the October 10, 2023 meeting for discussion and action involving authorizing charges and charging parties to pursue statutory removal of the Sheriff via Chapter 17, Wis. Stats. removal process before the Governor.
"The matter has been referred to the District Attorney’s office and this is presently considered an ongoing investigation by the District Attorney’s Office. No report will be released as this matter remains ongoing.
"There will be no further comment from my office, County Board Supervisors, or County Employees at this time."
-- Randy Scholz, County Administrator
If you read both the above statements and are even more confused about what is going on, well, join the club. Nobody seems to be willing to say what this is about, so apparently it is just left to social media to speculate because that's always a good idea.