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State treasurer candidate says U.S. Bank fired him over the phone

Posted at 6:48 PM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 19:49:26-04

MILWAUKEE -- A state treasurer candidate claims he was fired from his job at U.S. Bank for refusing to drop out of the race.

Travis Hartwig said the company told him to either leave the race or his job. U.S. Bank said doing both would be a conflict of interest. 

"I felt really sad about it, I enjoy my job at U.S. Bank, I like what I do," Hartwig said. 

Hartwig had no idea running for public office would cost him his job in downtown Milwaukee. He said U.S. Bank offered him an unfair ultimatum. 

"On July 2, they called me and asked me on the phone if I would leave the race or leave U.S. Bank,  I told them that I was uncomfortable with that," Hartwig said. "On that phone call they terminated my employment." 

Hartwig said he brought his campaign plans to the company attention months ago to be transparent about running for state treasurer. U.S. Bank officials told the Oak Creek native his candidacy would be a conflict of interest. The company is seeking a contract with the state that could lead to more than $10 million worth of business. 

"U.S. Bank does have a request for proposal out to renew business they have for the state," said Hartwig. "US Bank is the state's bank. That being said, they have a policy in place to make sure that if a process like that were to go in place, somebody would be able to recuse themselves from that process, thus removing the conflict of interest." 

Hartwig says his former role as mutual funds administrator didn't have any interaction with the state of Wisconsin. He is now considering legal action against the company for discrimination and interfering with the electoral process. 

"They do have other employees that seek public office and that they actually praise for having public office," Hartwig said. 

U.S. Bank representatives told us they do not comment on employee issues, but directed us to their employee code of ethics which explicitly states potential conflicts of interests of running for public office. 

There are five candidates in the state treasurer's race. Democrats Sarah Godlewski, Cynthia Kaump and former state treasurer Dawn Marie Sass. Jill Millies joins Hartwig on the Republican ticket. You can vote in the primary on Tuesday, Aug. 14.