WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) – Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple concealed but later released records of phone calls he made in March to a developer who received several city contracts.
The documents were revealed in an open-records request by Daily Herald Media. The newspaper received a tip that Mayor Jim Tipple may have been making campaign calls during work hours, which would have been illegal.
The newspaper requested the mayor’s phone records, but five numbers were blocked out. The Daily Herald challenged the redactions and obtained the full records, which showed four of the concealed calls were to Wausau contractor Chuck Ghidorzi.
Tipple said he only blacked out the calls because he was told it was proper to protect communications with developers who may be negotiating contracts with the city.
None of the records showed evidence of any illegal campaigning on city time. Tipple has said he did not make campaign calls on work time.
The mayor’s relationship with Ghidorzi has been under scrutiny for months as city officials approved a series of projects benefiting the developer’s businesses.
For example, in November the city gave $650,000 to Ghidorzi’s CAG Industrial business to renovate a building. Four months earlier, the city awarded a $400,000 contract to Ghidorzi Cos. to install a retaining wall and make other improvements to city land.
Ghidorzi did not return the newspaper’s calls for comment.
The fifth redacted call was to Joe Gehin, the former public works director who’s now a consultant with engineering firm Becher Hoppe Associates.