by William Skink
UPDATE: Lord Nick Checota left a comment contesting receiving any financial support from daddy Joe. I responded to my Lord and added this update to ensure Lord Checota’s voice is heard.
Joseph Checota is a Milwaukee businessman who, in 1992, tried to become a US Senator. Joseph Checota is also Nick Checota’s dad. Here is how the AP described his Senate bid back then:
Wisconsin, already represented by one of the wealthiest men in the U.S. Senate, now has another multimillionaire businessman who wants to pay his own way to Washington.
Joseph Checota is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat held by Republican Sen. Bob Kasten. He says he has spent $2 million of his own money on his campaign thus far, and expects to spend three times that by the fall elections.
″People don’t care that I’m a millionaire. I think people recognize that I can relate to them,″ said Checota, chairman of Universal Medical Buildings, which designs, builds, finances and leases medical buildings.
″And I think the voters of Wisconsin would rather have me finance my campaign with money I spent a lifetime earning than with contributions I received from special interests.″
Before getting to the results of that race, let’s take a look at some interesting scrutiny Joe Checota received over his business dealings:
U.S. Senate candidate Joe Checota’s companies have been scrutinized in at least four federal probes of alleged securities-law violations, including stock manipulation and insider trading, public records show, a copyright story in today’s Wisconsin State Journal said.
One of those Securities and Exchange Commission investigations remains open, and one directly targeted a Checota company, the agency confirmed.
Further in to the article we get this:
The State Journal June 4 reported on allegations that Checota misused company money while heading his first firm, American Medical Buildings, a medical office building developer. A secret investigation, conducted after Checota was ousted in 1983 as head of the firm, alleged the company improperly paid for expensive artwork and remodeling jobs at Checota’s lakeside home.
The findings were not made public as company officials negotiated an out-of-court settlement with Checota, who dropped a lawsuit seeking reinstatement to his job.
For more on the SEC investigations (plural) read the whole article.
Joseph Checota and one of his two political opponents ran such a nasty campaigns in the Democratic primary that a guy by the name of Russ Feingold ended up shocking the political establishment with his win. From the link:
Feingold ran an offbeat campaign with funky ads and promises posted on his garage door. But weeks out, he was a distant third behind two far better funded Democrats, businessman Joe Checota and U.S. Rep. Jim Moody. Then Checota and Moody astonished the good voters of Wisconsin with a violent volley of attack ads. People were appalled. (Such things were less common then).
Things got truly weird when Checota told supporters that if they didn’t vote for him, they should vote for Feingold (nothing like being endorsed by your opponent BEFORE the election).
Vastly outspent in a three-way primary, the dark horse won – with 70% of the vote.
“It completely blew their mind,” says Feingold, referring to pretty much the entire political world. “It blew my mind.”
In 2004 the Milwaukee Business Journal described how Joe Checota’s company, Landmark Healthcare Facilities LLC, shifted from building buildings to owning them:
Executives with Milwaukee-based developer Landmark Healthcare Facilities L.L.C. think a move toward increased property ownership will significantly grow their business.
Landmark Healthcare, led by former politician Joe Checota, has designed and built physician office buildings, ambulatory surgery centers and other non-hospital health care buildings since it was founded in 1995 as a successor to Checota’s Integrated Medical Buildings development company. The firm will now seek to own many of those structures in a shift from traditional real estate developer to developer and landlord.
The efforts are expected to boost Landmark’s revenue from its 2004 estimate of about $45 million, company officials said. Checota declined to give a specific revenue goal, but said the improved bottom line also will help the firm almost double its work force in the next 18 months, from 26 employees currently to near 50 by the summer of 2006.
“It’s a shift, but it’s a welcome shift,” said Nicholas Checota, Joe Checota’s son and Landmark’s chief operating officer.
If you want a peek into Checota’s operational mindset, this episode of Can Do (a MTPR podcast) is illuminating. Branding is a big thing for Checota’s venue empire, and his claim to local roots is his wife, a “4th generation Montanan”. Checota makes a point to describe their business partnership as 50/50. Smart branding.
While Missoula will be ground zero for Checota’s Logjam empire, don’t think this town is big enough for his aspirations. The Missoula Current last April reported on other projects in places like Bozeman in the works:
“We’re under design for a Bozeman venue the same size as The Wilma – a 1,500 capacity indoor venue,” Checota said Thursday. “My goal is to get (musical acts) from Denver to Seattle, or Salt Lake to Seattle, by giving them a Bozeman stop and a Missoula stop, and the other potential market I’m analyzing is Spokane.”
Why stop at spreading regionally? With Daddy’s billion dollar backing, the sky’s the limit for Lord Checota.
Growth in Missoula is going to happen, I get that. The two main problems I have with this particular project is how it’s being done, and who ultimately benefits.
Why does the Mayor feel the need to act all shady with moving up the City Council vote? And why does Lord Checota need to gobble up 16 million in public tax dollars? The citizens who will be impacted by this project deserve answers to these questions.