29 Aug

Still Nothing Done in the Milwaukee Public Museum Scandal

Back in January of this year, County Board Supervisor James White suggested that the Milwaukee Public Museum be subjected to the scrutiny of a [tag]forensic audit[/tag]. The museum’s coffers had been emptied by incompetent and possibly corrupt employees.

At that time, Assistant District Attorney David Feiss claimed that he was conducting an investigation of his own that would be quickly wrapped up. He said within a month. Here we are, seven months later with no results from him or the Milwaukee District Attorney’s office.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the investigation is close to concluding, and that the district attorney’s office is examining whether or not felonies were committed when money was transferred out of the museum’s endowment fund. Millions of dollars from the endowment fund were used for museum operations, in violation of the museum’s policy.

The former chief financial officer, Terry Gauoette initiated withdrawals from the fund without getting proper authorization. The former president of the museum, Michael Stafford, said he didn’t know of the withdrawals until several months after they started.

Milwaukee County auditors took a look at the museum’s finances and issued a report that essentially said that they spent a lot of money and withdrew funds from the endowment without authorization. The report did highlight the cover-up by museum executives.

Feiss says that no money was “stolen”. His office says they are investigating whether records related to the endowment fund were falsified or if transfers were made without proper consent.

I still wonder why the Milwaukee County Board saw fit to not fund a real investigation. It seems that no one has really looked into WHO received all these funds that the museum was spending.

  • Were the funds spent for legitimate products and services?
  • In arms-length transactions?
  • Or to people who had close ties to museum executives?
  • Were the products and services needed?
  • Were products and services actually provided?
  • Were they provided at market rates or above-market rates?