Complaints under the Jursidiction of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission 

The Ethics Commission has jurisdiction over complaints of Ch. 11, Ch. 13 Subch. III., & Ch. 19 Subch. III of the Wisconsin Statutes:

Compliance with Campaign Finance Laws

Any person may file a complaint with the Commission asking that it investigate alleged violations of campaign finance laws under Chapter 11 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

Compliance with Lobbying Laws

Lobbyists and organizations, which hire lobbyists, are subject to certain restrictions and reporting requirements under Sections 13.61 - 13.65 of the Wisconsin Statutes. 

Code of Ethics for State Public Officials

Certain state public officials are subject to regulations related to standards of conduct, use of office for personal financial gain, and conflicts of interest.  See Sections 19.41 - 19.58.

Code of Ethics for Local Public Officials

Contact the District Attorney in the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred. Section 19.59.

Compliance with Federal Election Laws

The Commission frequently receives questions about how to file a complaint concerning possible violations of federal election campaign laws.  The Commission only has jurisdiction over Wisconsin State Public Officials (elected or appointed) and State Candidates.  Complaints regarding the conduct of Federal candidates should be directed to: (Federal Campaign Finance Laws, FEC Regulations)

Special Notes

Please note that the Ethics Commission and its staff can only conduct an investigation upon a finding of reasonable suspicion, so a complaint should include all applicable information regarding the alleged violation that you want the Commission to consider in determining whether or not to make a finding of reasonable suspicion. The Commission will only consider information filed by the complainant and respondent, and the memo prepared by staff which simply provides background information regarding related statutes and case law. While the Ethics Commission may make reasonable inferences from the facts presented, the Ethics Commission will not consider speculation. You may wish to have an attorney assist with filing a complaint with the Ethics Commission, but you are not required to do so in order to file a complaint. The Ethics Commission and its staff cannot provide legal assistance to you.

To File a Complaint:

The Commission reviews each complaint to determine whether it states a violation within the jurisdiction of the Commission and satisfies the criteria for a proper complaint (see complaint form).  If the complaint does not meet these requirements, the Commission may notify the complainant of the deficiencies. 

Once a complaint is deemed sufficient, the Commission Administrator assigns it to a member of staff for initial inquires and assigns a complaint ID, acknowledges receipt of the complaint and informs the complainant that the Commission will notify him or her when the case is resolved.  Within 5 days after receiving a proper complaint, the Commission sends each respondent a copy of the complaint and a description of the Commission's compliance procedures. The respondent has 15 days from the date of receipt to respond in writing, explaining why no action should be taken. The Commission is required by law to keep its actions regarding the complaint confidential. The following flowchart provides an overview of the Ethics Commission's complaint and investigation process: Flowchart_Complaint_Process.pdf. This document provides an outline of the Ethics Commission's complaint procedures: EthicsCommissionComplaintProcedures.pdf. Please complete form ETH-10 Complaint Form to file a formal complaint with the Ethics Commission.