A former state senator convicted of conspiracy in a kickback scheme now says he plans to run for Congress.
Gary George, a Milwaukee Democrat, announced Monday that he will run for the seat currently held by fellow U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee.
He submitted his nomination papers with the state Government Accountability Board.
“I’m running for Congress because public service is my calling,” George said in a release. “And Milwaukee desperately needs the results-oriented leadership that I can provide.”
George, 60, was once a rising Democratic star in the state Senate, but his political career crumbled after he pleaded guilty about a decade ago to a federal charge of conspiracy to defraud the government.
Prosecutors said he took about $270,000 in kickbacks in legal fees paid to an attorney for a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization and took money from a businessman who got state contracts. He was also accused of using legislative aides to run personal errands.
He was sentenced in August 2004 to four years in federal prison and was ordered to pay nearly $570,000 in restitution.
Nearly four years ago, the state Supreme Court reinstated George’s law license, which it had suspended in 2004.
The press release announcing George’s campaign called him the “most powerful African-American legislator in state history.”
“Since my targeting and forced departure from politics in 2003, the Milwaukee political class has been content to watch its clout and ambitions diminish,” he said. “I cannot, in good conscience, stand idly by as real people suffer and our community crisis worsens.”
In his release, he called Moore a “friend.”
“I respect my friend Gwen Moore and her place in Wisconsin political history, but we need greater urgency and savvy in returning jobs and hope to every corner of Milwaukee County.”