Mary Burke denies being fired by family business

Mary Burke: Scott Walker Rival Allegedly Fired From Family Business

Mary Burke, the wealthy Democrat running for Wisconsin governor against incumbent Republican Scott Walker, was reportedly fired by her own family while she was in charge of Trek Bicycle’s European operations.

Burke has denied the allegation, deeming it ridiculous, completely false, and a form of character assassination. John Burke, her brother who now runs the company, also rejected the claim.

According to the AP, “Mary Burke argues that her experience at Trek, the bike company started by her father in the 1970s, qualifies her to be governor and lead economic development and job-creation efforts for the state.”

Former Trek executive Tom Albers, who worked for the company from 1982 to 1997, however, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that “I’m not saying she was incompetent. Maybe this job was too big for her.”

Albers also noted that the overseas unit was losing money under Mary Burke’s stewardship and her performance there “was not good.”

In a radio interview, Albers explained what he discovered firsthand when he flew to Trek’s European central office at the request of founder Richard Burke:

“I pretty much came back with the same conclusions that John Burke had made; and that was that we had major people problems over there and were in a situation where we could lose a lot of people. We were losing a lot of money and I couldn’t see where Mary Burke was going to turn this thing around. The family — and by that I mean Dick and John Burke — finally agreed to bring her back. And so, to say it bluntly, she was fired.”

Another former executive claimed that “She didn’t understand how the bike business — and how bikes are sold, particularly in foreign countries. So to be in charge of that process is a recipe for disaster, and that’s exactly what happened.”

According to Burke’s website, “Mary played a central role in Trek’s expansion as the Director of European Operations.”

After she left the job, Burke apparently took a two-year snowboarding sabbatical. She returned to the company in 1995. In 2005, Mary Burke became Wisconsin’s Commerce Secretary under then Gov. Jim Doyle.

Most polling suggests that Mary Burke and Scott Walker are in a dead heat, although a Marquette University Law School poll gives Walker a seven-point lead among likely voters. The courts have put Wisconsin’s photo ID law on hold, however, which opens the door to possible anti-Walker shenanigans in some voting precincts.

First elected governor in 2010, Scott Walker is facing his third election in four years on the job. After enacting the collective bargaining reform law known as Act 10, public sector unions mounted a failed recall election in 2012 against him. Recalls of other Republican office holders were only temporarily successful as both houses of the state legislature are back under GOP control. An effort to dislodge a perceived Scott Walker ally from the state supreme court also went down to defeat.

Scott Walker is the only governor in American history to survive a recall.

You may remember that Wisconsin state senate Democrats abandoned their constitutional work stations in February 2011 and hid out in Illinois to prevent a vote on Act 10 as protesters descended on the state capitol. The measure was finally voted into law about a month later and has since overcome numerous legal challenges at the state and federal level.

PJ Media notes that “Ever since [his election in 2010], the Democrats have been frothing at the mouth to bring down Scott Walker. His feat of balancing the budget and eliminating the budget deficit through his Act 10 legislation, which greatly limits the collective bargaining rights of the public employee unions, earned him enemies in labor, as well.”

Added News Busters: “Wisconsin’s establishment press has spent the better part of the past four years ‘exposing’ all kinds of things about Scott Walker which have collectively amounted to almost nothing except a stack of unfounded smears — but they never bothered to check Mary Burke’s core claim of private-sector competence.”

Do you think Mary Burke’s tenure at Trek Bicycle will affect her chances against Scott Walker?

[Image via Flickr]