Sheriff Hakes stands by former promise of accountability after misconduct allegations

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 5:56 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Chippewa County Sheriff Travis Hakes could face a possible removal of office after the county board revealed accusations of misconduct.

Hakes was sworn in just eight months ago, after winning the election in November 2022. He ran as a Republican and beat out Democratic candidate, Chris Kowalcyzk, for the seat.

Ahead of the election, Hakes made a guarantee of accountability and transparency as sheriff.

“If I get elected sheriff, I can tell you that I have an open door policy. I think that accountability, transparency and availability are things that we should expect from our next sheriff, and those are things that I guarantee I will do,” Hakes said.

WEAU asked Hakes on Wednesday if he still upholds these values in light of recent accusations. He responded via email with the following statement:

“I stand behind everything I said then. I said things I meant, not things people wanted to hear. I truly believe that honesty, dependability, accountability, transparency, and availability are extremely important,” Hakes said.

Wednesday morning Sheriff Hakes responded to the misconduct accusations against him. He said he was “shocked” to learn of the accusations. He said the county board and county administration have created a false narrative against him, and they wish to remove him from office. He denied any wrongdoing on his part during his time as sheriff, and he intends to resist efforts to remove him. His full statement can be read here.

The Chippewa County Board will be holding another discussion on the matter on October 10th. At that time, board members are expected to decide on “authorizing charges and charging parties to pursue statutory removal of the Sheriff via Chapter 17, Wis. Stats. removal process before the Governor.”

Under Wisconsin law, the governor has statutory authority to remove the sheriff if there is proof of inefficiency, neglect of duty, official misconduct, or malfeasance in office.

Details of the accusations against Sheriff Hakes or his alleged misconduct have not been released to the public. Chippewa County District Attorney, Wade Newell, received the report and is reviewing it.

A press release from the Chippewa County Administrator, states no report will be released as the matter remains ongoing. There will be no further comment from the County Administrator Office, County Board Supervisors, or County Employees at this time.