MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A new report by an online news organization is attacking Mary Burke's work history. A prominent Republican says he worked at Trek Bicycle Corporation when Burke was there -- and claims the Democratic candidate for governor had no choice but to leave the company because she was fired.
In an article by the Wisconsin Reporter, former Trek employees say Burke did not leave the company of her own volition. They say she was fired by her family for financial losses and poor morale. The Wisconsin Reporter cites Gary Ellerman and three anonymous former employees in its report.
Ellerman is now the chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. FOX6 News left him a phone message which was not immediately returned.
FOX6 News also went to the Jefferson County Republican Party headquarters -- and was told that Ellerman is out of the country right now.
Mary Burke did address the allegations on Wednesday, October 29th -- calling them "ridiculous."
"This is the sort of nonsense, six days before an election, baseless allegations that are deterring from the issues, frankly that are really important here in terms of getting people out and making sure they understand the issues," said Burke.
FOX6 News reached out to Trek to clear the matter up. The company backed Burke's comments. A written response said the following:
"This last-minute attempt to disparage Mary's contributions to Trek is attributed to Gary Ellerman, Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. Mr. Ellerman was fired from Trek in 2004. His politically motivated characterizations of Mary and her tenure at Trek are inaccurate. When Mary was in charge of Europe, she grew sales from $3 million to $50 million. In 1993, Mary decided that it was time for her to make a change and she left Trek. In 1995, John Burke asked Mary Burke to return to Trek to help with some key areas of the business. After she returned, Mary assumed the lead of Trek`s Global Forecasting department."
The Republican Party of Wisconsin has issued this statement to FOX6 News:
“Mary Burke is outright admitting that she was let go from her father’s company – and it’s becoming clear that employees of Trek hold the same opinion as her predecessor at Commerce: ‘She’s a disaster.’ You’d have to be a disaster to be let go from your family business.”
Burke did return to Trek a couple of years after leaving Trek Europe. She says she served as the Director of Strategic Planning and Forecasting.