Attorneys for the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) have filed an ethics complaint this week with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission against Senate candidate Mandela Barnes for reportedly accepting thousands of dollars in alleged illegal contributions from lobbyists in 2021 and 2022.
Barnes, who is opposing Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) for Senate, could campaign into November with an investigation hanging over his head that could develop into civil or criminal violations.
In Wisconsin, the law prohibits elected officials from accepting funds from lobbyists while the state legislature is conducting legislative business in session. The RPW has accused Barnes of accepting seven contributions during the state legislature’s session that began last year.
“While Mandela Barnes claims to want to ‘Stop big corporations and special interests from buying political influence,’ his actions again prove his words are just lip service and not only will he accept special interest money, he’ll also accept illegal contributions,” RPW Executive Director Mark Jefferson stated.
While Barnes has been hit with an ethics complaint, he appears to be struggling to connect with Wisconsin voters. Barnes has reportedly stopped calling himself a “progressive” Democrat to “appear less polarizing” in his race against Johnson.
Barnes has advocated for defunding “over-bloated” police departments, allowing felons to retain the right to vote, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), permitting driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, and giving in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants.
He favors an entirely government-run healthcare system, eliminating the Senate filibuster, packing the Supreme Court, and passing the Green New Deal. Barnes also derided small business owners as “selfish” for wanting to serve customers during the pandemic.
Barnes has a two-point lead over Johnson, recent polling shows.