Milwaukee County supervisor fined, election paperwork false statement

A Milwaukee County supervisor was charged, pleaded guilty and sentenced for making a false statement on election paperwork – all over the course of less than 24 hours. 

The second floor of the Milwaukee County Courthouse is home to the Board of Supervisors. But four floors up, Supervisor Shawn Rolland appeared before Judge Jack Davila Friday, June 23.

"The process is in place for a reason," Davila said. "If you’re going to sign the form, then they have to be all observed by you."

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It started in March after Wauwatosa police got a complaint about Rolland and the 2022 election nomination process. He turned in 31 pages of nomination paperwork, 17 of which were signed by Rolland as circulator.

"Mr. Rolland was required to comply with a certain procedure to run for election, and he did not comply with that procedure," said Assistant District Attorney Matthew Westphal.

Shawn Rolland

A district attorney's office investigator found Rolland wasn't present for at least four nomination papers with eight signatures total. Prosecutors said it's serious for an elected official who isn't new to the process.

"I want to be very clear there is no allegation that there was any inappropriate signatures on Mr. Rolland’s forms, no allegations he forged any signatures," said Westphal.

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Prosecutors recommended a $500 fine. 

"I’ll just say that I apologize for these mistakes. I agree that I hate to be a distraction from all the good work that is happening in Milwaukee County," Rolland said in court. "Lesson learned, and I appreciate the settlement."

Rolland declined to comment after the hearing. County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson also declined to comment. County Executive David Crowley said in a statement he commends Rolland for cooperating with the investigation and taking responsibility for his mistake.

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors

Official statement from Rolland:

"I have always told my kids that if they make a mistake, they should apologize, learn from it and don’t make the same mistake again. This is my opportunity to practice what I preach. 

"Today, as part of a negotiated disposition with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, I was charged with a misdemeanor offense relating to my gathering of signatures to be on the ballot for Milwaukee County Board Supervisor District 6 in the April 5, 2022, spring election. 

"To be clear and fully transparent, every signature that I collected was provided by someone who wanted me to appear on the ballot. I collected more signatures than needed to appear on the ballot for an unopposed county board race, even in a time when the COVID Omicron variant was making many people uneasy with public events. But in two instances, I did not witness all the signatures actually being signed, and I signed as a circulator. When I knocked on those doors, the person who answered opened the door took the sheet from me and told me they would obtain additional signatures from family members. When they gave the sheets back to me, I signed as the circulator. That was a mistake, and I intend to resolve this matter promptly so that I can get back to doing the work of the county.   

"I’m sincerely sorry for this mistake, and the distraction it will cause from the good work being done across Milwaukee County. The best apology anyone can make is to not make the same mistake again - with actions not words - and that’s what I will do moving forward."