Dodgeville mayor denies favoritism in alcohol-related stop

Dodgeville mayor denies favoritism in alcohol-related stop
Adam Schrager interviewing Todd Novak

Dodgeville police encountered Mayor Todd Novak twice this summer in alcohol-related incidents, neither of which resulted in citations. This comes after a public event a year ago where numerous sources said Novak bragged publicly about getting preferential treatment from the city’s police department in regards to driving drunk.

Police records show officers stopped Novak from driving home drunk at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 20 after he “staggered and nearly fell” on the way to his vehicle. He called his next-door neighbor and friend, Dodgeville police Sgt. David J. Bauer, to drive him home. The two men traded numerous emails this summer about Bauer’s candidacy for the position of Dodgeville police chief, with Novak writing that Bauer left out “personal aide to the mayor” on his resume.

“I was treated no differently than anybody else in this situation by my city police officers, our city police officers,” Novak said. “Drunk driving has affected me personally. I know people who have been affected by drunk driving and it should be prevented at all costs. I did what anybody would do. I called a friend.”

Earlier this summer, an officer intervened as Novak allegedly was urinating on a building in downtown Dodgeville. Now-retired Dodgeville Police Chief Dave Kieffer said he did not know why that incident was not written up by officers.

Novak denied any knowledge of the alleged public urination and also told News 3 he had not had any prior encounters with police as it related to alcohol. However, court records show Novak was arrested on May 18, 1990, in Dodgeville for operating while intoxicated after failing Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. That charge was dropped when blood tests taken roughly an hour after the arrest showed Novak was one-thousandth of a percentage point under the legal limit.

Last October, at a Best of Dodgeville event, three sources said Novak was in a group of people when he was warned not to drive home from the event because he was intoxicated. The sources said Novak was warned about getting pulled over for driving while intoxicated with one source saying the mayor responded, “It doesn’t matter because I have a Mayoral Pass. I won’t get into trouble.”

News 3 does not know if Novak drove a car that night.

Novak said he never used those words because he is not treated differently than any other Dodgeville resident. The current acting police chief, Lt. David Pope, agreed, stating that Novak did not receive preferential treatment because “social or economic status does not enter into (these decisions).”

Kieffer cited the fact he once wrote a criminal complaint against his own brother as evidence Dodgeville police officers don’t play favorites.

In an email to News 3, Bauer wrote, “My involvement with your inquiry was as a private citizen and not as a member of the police department. In addition, I have not been witness to nor have I been made aware of any inappropriate acts committed by members of this department as they pertain to the mayor.”

The mayor, who is running for State Assembly, issued a statement to News 3 that blamed his political opponents for the information behind the story.

“The accusations being made are in regards to a serious offense and one that I do not take lightly,” he wrote. “I have been a big proponent of making sure our city streets remain safe and have even expanded our city policing program to help ensure good decisions are made in situations like these. I was treated like any other citizen that night and am proud of how the police department responded. It is unfortunate that there are people who would like to see me fail and have brought accusations like these forward.”

A records search through the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s campaign-finance database showed none of the sources spoken to for the reporting of this story have donated to Novak’s political opponent this November.