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Wisconsin Republican state treasurer candidate says U.S. Bank fired him after he wouldn't drop out

Posted at 12:57 PM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 14:00:55-04

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican state treasurer candidate said Monday that he was fired from his bank job because he wouldn't drop out of the race.

Travis Hartwig's campaign said in a news release that U.S. Bank fired him from his job as a mutual fund administrator at a downtown Milwaukee branch on July 2.

Hartwig said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he notified the bank he was running for treasurer in April. Company officials told him in June if he didn't drop out of the race he would have to resign or take a leave of absence. Later in the month they told him he had only two options: quit the race by June 29 or resign. He said no one ever explained to him why he couldn't run and continue working at U.S. Bank.

A human resources employee contacted him by phone on July 2 and asked him to choose between the race and his job. He refused to choose and was terminated in the same phone call, he said.

Hartwig said he had worked for U.S. Bank since February 2016 and was making $62,500 a year. He said he refused to drop out of the race because he feels it's important to have citizen representation in government.

"Employer restrictions like this make it hard for citizens to want to be involved in their government," he said.

His attorney, Nate Cade, said he plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Fair Employment Practices Agency later this week. Cade said in a telephone interview that employers can't fire someone for running for office as long as holding the office doesn't conflict with the person's job.

He said he can't imagine how being state treasurer would conflict with being a mutual fund administrator, noting almost every legislator has another job.

U.S. Bank spokeswoman Cheryl Leamond said Monday morning she was preparing a response to Hartwig's allegations.

Incumbent Treasurer Matt Adamczyk is running for the Legislature and isn't seeking re-election. Hartwig faces fellow Republican Jill Millies in an Aug. 14 primary. The winner will go on to face whoever emerges from a three-way Democratic primary in the November general election.