Wis. State Fair Executive Director fired, interim executive director named

WEST ALLIS- The Wisconsin State Fair's Executive Director is out of a job.  His lawyer says he was fired for giving raises to about 30 employees, including himself.

After a long closed door meeting Wednesday night, the board unanimously voted to fire CEO Rick Frenette effective immediately.

Frenette has held the position since 2010. The board chairman refused to talk with the media following the announcement.

Frenette's lawyer said his client made a request for pay increases, which went through.  He says the executive director didn't realize his actions were against the rules at the time.

"For all intense and purposes Rick admitted that there was some negligence in his oversight of that process. But there was no intention. There was no illicit or illegal behavior on his behalf," explained Frank Gimbel his attorney.

Gimbel said his client made a statement in front of the board, but neither the attorney or Frenette were allowed in the meeting while the state made their case.

Steve Sazama has been a vendor at the fair for 33 years.

"Rick Frenette without a doubt was the best fair director that we ever had and we're really disappointed that the board made this decision tonight," said Steve Sazama, Fair Vendor.

The board named the State Fair's Chief Operating Officer Kathleen O'Leary as the Interim Executive Director. 

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