Burke rejects allegations of firing from Trek
MADISON, Wis. — Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke is refuting a claim by two former executives of Trek Bicycle that she was fired from the company in 1993.
The allegations surfaced online from the conservative website the Wisconsin Reporter. Former human resources director and now chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party Gary Ellerman claims Burke was fired from her job after financial losses and poor European sales.
Former Trek President Tom Albers then told the Associated Press that Burke’s role as head of Trek’s overseas operations “just didn’t work out. We were losing money.” Albers said overseas sales plummeted on Burke’s watch. He said Burke’s brother, John Burke, fired her.
Albers left Trek to work for a competitor, and told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he considered himself a conservative and had donated $50 to Gov. Scott Walker.
Both Mary Burke and her brother, John Burke, the current head of Trek, denied the allegations Wednesday, calling them “character assassination.”
Mary Burke was asked by a Green Bay reporter whether it was her decision to leave Trek that year.
“Yes,” Burke said. “Absolutely.”
Trek also refuted the allegations in a statement to News 3.
“Mr. Ellerman was fired from Trek in 2004,” the statement said. “His politically motivated characterizations of Mary and her tenure at Trek are inaccurate.”
“When Mary was in charge of Europe, she grew sales from $3 million to $50 million,” the statement continued. “In 1993 Mary decided that it was time for her to make a change and she left Trek.”
Burke was then asked to return to the company in 1995.
“I actually rejoined Trek as director of Strategic Planning and Forecasting later, but that was at a point where we had decided we reorganized and eliminated the position that I had,” Burke said.
Burke later served as the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce under Gov. Jim Doyle from 2005-2007 and most recently has served on the Madison School Board.