State Investigating Incident at Sand Mine Owned by Large Walker Donor

May 23, 2018

The state is investigating the release of an estimated 10 million gallons of sludge into the Trempealau River by a sand mining company whose owner is a large Republican Party contributor.

The company, Hi-Crush Proppants, of Houston, Tex., said it released the muddy water in a holding pond on Monday to free a bulldozer driver who had slipped into the pond.  The water and bright orange sediment flowed into nearby farm fields and a tributary and into the river.

Hi-Crush co-founder Robert Rasmus and some of his employees have been generous contributors to GOP Gov. Scott Walker and the state Republican Party in recent years.

Between January 2012 and December 2017, Rasmus contributed $25,000 to Walker’s campaign.  An additional $10,375 was contributed to Walker by three of Rasmus’s employees – Chief Operating Officer Jefferies Alston, of Amite, La.; Vice President Chad McEver, of Eau Claire, Wis.; and Shipping Manager Michael Franks, of Independence, Wis.

Rasmus also contributed $205,000 to the state Republican Party between September 2014 and last December.

In addition to the state contributions, Rasmus also contributed $100,000 in February 2015 to Our American Revival, which was one of two federal committees created to support Walker’s 2016 presidential bid.

Hi-Crush was fined $52,000 in July 2014 by the state of Wisconsin for operating two wells at its mine in Augusta without Department of Natural Resources approval.