State. Sen. Eric Wimberger, an attorney and Republican, said his family cabin fell into delinquency due to his recently-deceased father’s mental decline.
By Peter Cameron, THE BADGER PROJECT
Nestled in trees away from the water, the Wimbergers’ lake cabin has a sun porch. Over the years, the family has added to the building a couple times. On the shore sits a short dock.
But the property taxes on the cabin, which state Sen. Eric Wimberger (R-Green Bay) owns with his sister, have lapsed, according to Oconto County records.
After not paying taxes for the past five years, the family owes nearly $26,000 on the half-acre plot and building with a total property value that Oconto County places at about $257,000. The cabin sits in the village of Lakewood about 80 miles northwest of Green Bay.
In a written statement to The Badger Project, Wimberger, an attorney in Green Bay, said the property was his father’s primary residence for many years.
“He recently passed after a long period of mental decline and with significant debts, including delinquent property taxes,” he wrote. “I’m working to address the tax liability for this home which has significant sentimental value for my family and where I spent much of childhood.”
Oconto County property records list Richard Wimberger, the state senator’s father, as the current property owner and his two children as co-owners. A funeral home obituary states that the elder Wimberger died in October in the home, which the obituary indicates he built.
By not paying five years of property taxes, the Wimbergers have racked up thousands more in penalties and interest on the money they already owe.
The 2017 tax bill on the property, originally $3,800, rose to more than $6,800 after interest and penalties were added when the family paid it in September.
That payment allowed the Wimberger family to delay the county taking action on the delinquent property. Oconto County places liens on properties after five years of delinquency, county treasurer Tanya Peterson wrote in an email.
Members of the 2023 Wisconsin State Legislature make an annual salary of $57,408.
Next year the county will take action on properties delinquent for 2018, Peterson said.
Wimberger lists his law office at 311 South Jefferson Street in Green Bay as the billing address for the lakefront property.
The Wimbergers also own about six acres across the street from the lakefront property. Those two parcels are up-to-date on property tax payments.
Their mother owns and runs a candy shop in Lakewood, where the state senator says he sometimes works.
Wimberger first won election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2020 in what was one of the most expensive races in the history of the state legislature.
After losing narrowly to long-time incumbent state Sen. Dave Hanson, a Democrat, in 2016, Wimberger successfully flipped the 30th Senate District four years later, defeating De Pere councilman — and state Sen. Hansen’s nephew — Jonathon Hansen.
Jonathan Hansen raised a massive $1.46 million to Wimberger’s $800,000 that year, but Wimberger still won by nearly 10 percentage points, 54.7% – 45.3%.
The political districts for the Wisconsin State Legislature were drawn by Republicans and thus heavily favor them.
Wimberger’s state Senate seat is up for reelection next year.
The Badger Project is a nonpartisan, citizen-supported journalism nonprofit in Wisconsin.