Racine Alder Sandy Weidner, who faced a potential fine of up to $15,000, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination multiple times during her civil contempt of court hearing in Racine County Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon.
Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz found her in contempt of court – in “the most egregious conduct I have seen against the courts of this country. “ But he stayed sanctions pending appeal of the original case and the contempt charge.
Read more about the case.
During a closed session meeting in February, Racine City Attorney Scott Letteney gave a PowerPoint presentation about some Common Council members using their city email account to send confidential information to constituents. Letteney was allegedly seeking “an advisory opinion from the city’s Ethics Board on whether the aldermen’s actions violated the city’s ethics ordinance,” according to a story by the Journal Sentinel.
Weidner told the Journal Sentinel she felt that Letteney was trying “everything in his power to ‘monitor my behavior.’”
Ultimately the matter was referred to the Ethics Board. Weidner requested copies of the presentation, but Letteney refused to give them citing that they were privileged because the committee had met in closed session.
After Weidner went to the media, a contempt of court charge was filed against her. At the hearing Tuesday, Gasiorkiewicz chastised her for not complying with the seal order, according to a story by the Journal Times.
During the contempt of court hearing Wednesday, Judge Gasiorkiewicz said that her invocation of the Fifth Amendment was prima facie evidence that she had violated the court order to not discuss the case with anyone when she talked to two news reporters last month.
He ordered her to pay the City of Racine’s attorney fees and costs in litigating her contempt case and said she would be fined $1,000 a day if she continued to violate the order against discussing the case.
The judge then asked Weidner if she would agree to honor the seal order unless it is lifted by an appellate court and she did so.