Milwaukee Mayor Charged on Five Counts

Prosecutors filed a civil complaint against the acting mayor alleging campaign finance violations (search) Monday, eight days before voters will decide between him and another candidate for mayor.

Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt (search) was accused of four civil counts of filing a false campaign finance report and one civil count of failing to deposit personal campaign contributions in a campaign account.

Milwaukee County District Attorney Michael McCann focused his investigation on Pratt's campaign finance reports, which didn't match up with bank statements for his campaign account. The figures were allegedly off by $116,000 as of the end of 2003.

Pratt's office said he would not comment until an afternoon news conference.

Pratt became acting mayor in January when Mayor John Norquist (search) left office four months early in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal and an admission that he had an extramarital affair.

Pratt has been an alderman since 1987 and, as president of the Common Council (search), or city council, was elevated to acting mayor upon Norquist's departure.

Pratt and former U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett (search), both Democrats, advanced in the Feb. 17 primary to compete in the April 6 nonpartisan election.

News reports that Pratt mishandled his campaign money came out about a month after the primary.

Pratt, virtually unscathed politically before this, said in a recent forum that voters shouldn't be concerned about flaws in his campaign account or about his ability to handle the city's $1 billion budget, because the mayor sets policy and is not involved in budgetary operations.

Pratt said in an interview with The Associated Press that he was told the investigation is secret and he shouldn't comment on it. "I don't know exactly what's being looked at," he said.

In response to the initial reports about discrepancies, he hired former Internal Revenue Service special agent Michael Spang to review his finances. Spang blamed the problems on accounting errors.

Barrett contended the voters should be concerned about Pratt's finances because the mayor controls the budget and his employees take directives from him.

"If you're $100,000 off on a $300,000 campaign account, it's fair to ask how much would you be off on a billion-dollar city budget," Barrett said.