Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Zapata Resigns City Job Before Disciplinary Decision

Former deputy election director faces felony and misdemeanor charges for voter fraud.

By - Jan 9th, 2023 03:55 pm
Kimberly Zapata (left, image from Milwaukee County) and military ballots (right, image from Rep. Brandtjen).

Kimberly Zapata (left, image from Milwaukee County) and military ballots (right, image from Rep. Brandtjen).

Former City of Milwaukee deputy election director Kimberly Zapata won’t continue to collect a government paycheck while she faces felony and misdemeanor charges of voter fraud. She resigned on Dec. 19 before the city could take any formal disciplinary action.

Zapata is alleged to have used a state elections website in October to have three military absentee ballots for fictitious individuals sent to the home of Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), the then-chair of the Wisconsin State Assembly‘s Elections Committee and an advocate of decertifying the 2020 election.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg, in disclosing Zapata’s alleged actions on Nov. 3, said she was “terminated” and her access to city facilities and computer systems revoked. But Zapata, owing to earlier positions in her decade-long career with the city, had civil service protections from lower-level jobs. After being promoted to deputy in July, Zapata was formally on administrative leave from a lower-level position that paid $68,913 annually. She resumed being paid at that rate after the city terminated her deputy role, which paid $87,666 annually.

Her resignation ends a potentially drawn-out process to discipline or fire her. “She resigned before a disciplinary decision could be made following an internal investigation,” said a Department of Employee Relations spokesperson in an email.

But regardless of her city employment status, Zapata still faces a felony charge of misconduct in office. She pled not guilty in December. She also pled not guilty to three misdemeanor charges of voter fraud. The next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 3.

She’s represented by the Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm where former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and election denier Michael Gableman now works. Zapata is directly represented by Abigail Bongiorno.

Zapata is currently free on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond issued by Milwaukee County Court Commissioner Maria Dorsey.

A criminal complaint filed by Milwaukee County details Zapata’s alleged actions, and a possible motive.

In an interview with the DA’s office, Zapata is alleged to have committed the action from her southwest side home the morning of Oct. 25 to draw attention to the “actual true fraud” and move Brandtjen, who has empowered Gableman and pushed to decertify the 2020 election, away from “conspiracy theories.”

“Zapata stated that she felt overwhelmed due to the threats of violence the Election Commission was receiving, in addition to the constant daily harassment and accusations of lying and hiding things,” says the complaint. “She stated she wanted the truth to come out so that they could focus on the actual problems.” Zapata was on bereavement leave preceding her actions, but returned to work on Oct. 24.

Zapata, according to the complaint, used the public-facing My Vote WI website to request the ballots. She created fictitious people that lived in South Milwaukee, Shorewood and Menomonee Falls and had all of the ballots sent to Brandtjen’s Menomonee Falls home. She did, however, use a privileged election worker system to access Brandtjen’s address, which would have been available in other public documents.

Unlike other Wisconsin voters, military members do not need to register in advance or provide an ID in order to request an absentee ballot.

Brandtjen received the ballots on Oct. 28. The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office announced it was investigating the matter on Oct. 31. Woodall-Vogg, according to the complaint, discussed the issue with Zapata, who denied any knowledge of this. Zapata later approached Woodall-Vogg on Wednesday, Nov. 2 and admitted she requested the ballots.

Categories: City Hall, Politics, Weekly

2 thoughts on “City Hall: Zapata Resigns City Job Before Disciplinary Decision”

  1. DAGDAG says:

    Wait. She originally admitted her wrongdoing…but plead guilty…and still got paid for whatever length of time it was? That’s just wrong.

  2. ringo muldano says:

    Dontcha know… cant understand nutty twits

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