Official emails and documents requested by Madison’s Freedom From Religion Foundation reveal that Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt and his staff have worked while on city time to plan and coordinate a campaign to bring Pope Francis to the area.
“I think that the Mayor is clearly acting as if he’s mayor of the Catholics of Green Bay only,” said FFRF co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It does show that city of Green Bay staff have solicited the Pope’s visit on city time and involved in this Catholic campaign during city hours.”
According to the group, “The City of Green Bay Personal Policy Chapter 24.4 requires: “Employees must maintain a distinction between sharing personal and official City views,” and requires disclaimers for personal views and opinions, which were not employed by the mayor or his staff.” FFRF sent a letter to Schmitt in March objecting to his invitation for Francis to visit the Our Lady of Good Help shrine in Champion, and Gaylor scoffed at the notion, which Schmitt has previously cited, that it’s about economic development.
“It’s not going to benefit taxpayers. They’re going to get the bill,” says Gaylor. “In terms of the security alone, this costs millions of dollars and there have been riots around the world by taxpayers who are upset when they have to fund a visit from the Pope.” WTAQ has reached out to Mayor Schmitt’s office for comment, but has yet to get a response.