City of Green Bay staffers solicit pope on city time

City documents received by FFRF through an open records request show that Mayor Jim Schmitt and his staff have planned and coordinated a campaign on city time to bring the pope to Green Bay, Wis.

FFRF objected in March to Schmitt’s invitation in his official capacity as mayor sent on city letterhead to Pope Francis to “make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.” Emails reveal the mayor and his chief of staff, Andy Rosendahl, coordinated the initiative and organized weekly “Pope to Green Bay Committee” meetings throughout the workday.

Emails by city staff show they planned and scheduled meetings (dubbed “the Pope Mobile Committee” by the mayor), reviewed wording on the website and created meeting agendas.

City Policy Chapter 24.4 requires “a distinction between sharing personal and official City views” and disclaimers for personal views and opinions — that were not employed by the mayor or his staff.

“Just as paid staff time may not be used for campaign activity, it’s equally inappropriate and unseemly to promote Catholicism and this religious pilgrimage on city time,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.

FFRF says the mayor and city staff must stop working on the papal visit during city time while using city property and follow its disclaimer policy.

Freedom From Religion Foundation