Jan 12, 2023 - Politics

Council members scrutinize contractor led by Republican

Tim MIchels at a campaign event

Tim Michels' company is a city contractor. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Minneapolis Council members raised concerns this week about a city contractor whose owner ran for governor of Wisconsin as a Republican.

Driving the news: Michels Corp. is a contractor that has done millions of dollars' worth of infrastructure work for Minneapolis, as well as gas line work in the city for Centerpoint. The firm's white trucks and red lettering are often seen near project sites.

  • Its co-owner, Tim Michels, lost to Democrat Tony Evers by three points.

What they're saying: "The president of the company ... ran as a very explicit election denier," Robin Wonsley (Ward 2) said during a committee meeting.

  • Wonsley also raised concerns about Michels Corp.'s work on the construction of the Keystone Pipeline.
  • Michels said the 2020 election was “maybe” stolen and that decertifying the election’s results would be “on the table” if he was elected governor, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Yes, but: Deputy city attorney Erik Nilsson said the city is required by state law to take the lowest bidder for the contract (in this case, Michels underbid a competitor $3.6 million to $5.4 million).

  • "In terms of political speech ... that's not a proper consideration for award of a bid," Nilsson said.

Catch up quick: The issue was raised when Michels was seeking a contract adjustment of $340,000 for work on a water line. That amendment was approved 4-2, with Wonsley and Jason Chavez (Ward 9) opposing it.

The other side: Andrew Johnson (Ward 12) said that while he vehemently disagrees with Michels' political positions, the council can't base its bid awards on politics.

  • "We just need to be really careful when having conversations like this," he said. "Frankly, I think we're opening the city up to a lawsuit."

Michels Corp. could not be reached by Axios for comment.

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