A Wisconsin election official who was fired this week has been charged with making false statements over her alleged sending of fake military ballots to another person.

Kimberly Zapata, the just-fired Milwaukee Election Commission deputy director, was charged with misconduct in public office and making false statements to obtain absentee ballots, according to a criminal complaint obtained by The Epoch Times.

Zapata faces up to five years, and a fine of up to $13,000, if convicted.

According to the complaint, Zapata created three fake names, including “Holly Brandtjen,” and used them to apply for military ballots before using her governmental access to a voter database to obtain the address of “JB.” The details in the complaint match those made public by state Republican Rep. Janel Brandtjen after she received three military ballots.

State law enables military voters to request ballots without providing proof of identification or residence.

Zapata admitted to her boss, Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg, on Nov. 1 that she applied for and sent the ballots to Brandtjen “to show how easy it is to commit fraud in this manner,” according to the complaint.

During an interview with investigators, Zapata acknowledged what she had done and said she “wanted to bring the actual true fraud out.” She also said that she wanted to redirect Brandtjen’s focus “away from outrageous conspiracy theories and to something that is actually real.”

Zapata accessed the MyVote site on Oct. 25 using her city-issued laptop and created the false identities, choosing random addresses in Shorewood, South Milwaukee, and Menominee Falls to use. and then sending them to Brandtjen’s home. She utilized her government access to the WisVote database to find the lawmaker’s address.

“By submitting false military absentee ballot requests, Zapata did an act that was in excess of her lawful authority and that she was forbidden by law from doing. By submitting these absentee ballot requests, Zapata was falsely asserting that she was the individual listed on the ballot requests,” assistant Milwaukee District Attorney Richard Westphal said. “These false statements were made for the purpose of obtaining absentee ballots and in fact resulted in the issuance of such ballots.”

Zapata did not respond to a request for comment.

Her initial appearance in court is slated to take place on Nov. 28.

Waukesha County authorities were initially investigating the ballots, but handed over the probe to Milwaukee officials.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, a Democrat, announced Zapata’s firing on Thursday.

“This has every appearance of being an egregious, blatant violation of trust, and this matter is now in the hands of law enforcement,” he said.


Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news for The Epoch Times. He is based in Maryland.

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