Sand Mine Owner and GOP Donor Gets No Fine From DNR for Spill

October 4, 2018

A western Wisconsin sand mine whose owner is a generous Republican Party contributor will not be fined by the state for a 10-million-gallon spill in May.

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it decided not to issue a fine against Hi-Crush Proppants, of Houston, Tex. for releasing sludge and wastewater because it was done to rescue a trapped worker whose bulldozer slipped into a pond that held the wastewater. The DNR said state law allows wastewater permit holders to bypass normal procedures in emergency situations.

The orange sludge and wastewater traveled across farm fields and eventually into the Trempealau River.

Hi-Crush co-founder Robert Rasmus and some of his employees have contributed more than $340,000 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 DNR approval.