Attorney enters not guilty plea for mayor in campaign finance case

Mayor Jim Schmitt
(Photo: WBAY)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – GGreen Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt’s attorney appeared in court Wednesday morning on the mayo’rs behalf and pleaded not guilty to campaign finance violations.

Attorney Patrick Knight appeared before Judge Mitchell Metropulos without his client. The mayor was not required to be present for the hearing because it is a misdemeanor case.

As Action 2 News first reported Tuesday, Schmitt has a plea and sentencing hearing scheduled for Dec. 5 at 9 a.m.

Schmitt is accused of violating state campaign finance laws while running for re-election between 2011 and 2015.

A special investigator says he uncovered instances in which Schmitt’s campaign accepted donations over the legal limit and altered financial documents to try to hide it. Schmitt has claimed any irregularities were not intentional.

Wednesday’s initial appearance by the mayor’s attorney was quick. Entering the pleas was a formality. As we reported weeks ago, a plea deal has already been reached in the case. The special prosecutor has said Schmitt intends to accept a plea agreement to avoid jail time and probation but force him to dissolve his campaign committee and donate the remaining $26,000 in his election account to a school fund.

Some city council members were in the courtroom for the brief hearing. Alderman Guy Zima wants the mayor to resign and said he’s not happen the case wasn’t resolved Wednesday as the mayor originally indicated.

“This is just a stall technique in my opinion, and maybe an attempt to push it beyond the spring elections so that he can hang on a little longer or gain more time to try to convince some of the council members that he should stay,” Zima said.

Schmitt is serving his fourth term as city mayor. He’s rejected calls from some aldermen to step down.

Action 2 News repeatedly requested a comment from the mayor and his attorneys. He’s continually said he won’t comment on the case until after it’s heard by a judge, which again will happen on Dec. 5.