Mayor’s office releases emails about Oscar Mayer closure

Northside business walk planned to test Oscar Mayer loss impact

The Madison mayor’s office has released nearly 2,000 pages of emails in response to an open records request from Sen. Scott Fitzgerald about the impending closure of Madison’s Oscar Mayer plant.

Fitzgerald made the request last week after stories saying the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation had been notified of the possibility of Kraft Heinz moving a Beaver Dam Cheese plant, but had not contacted the company after an email from an official with the state’s business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

Among the 1,960 pages of emails also released to News 3 Wednesday were emails that Soglin had previously detailed of contact between city of Madison economic development officials Ruth Rohlich and Matthew Mikolajewski with Kraft Heinz executives last March, June and July.

One email shows a meeting scheduled for Nov. 3 between Mikolajewski and an Oscar Mayer official who requested a meeting.

The following day, Derek Crawford, director of Government Affairs for Kraft Heinz forwarded an email to Soglin “regarding today’s Kraft Heinz announcement and our facility” and a request that the information not be shared until 2:30 p.m. eastern time that day.

An email also shows the company notified Soglin’s office in August of layoffs at its Northfield, Illinois, headquarters. Soglin’s economic development staff members detailed in emails that they made phone calls that did not lead to meetings with company executives.

Also released was an email exchange between Mary Gage, a regional account manager for WEDC, Rohlich and Mikolajewski some 20 minutes after News 3 broke the news of Oscar Mayer’s impending departure from Madison.

“Anything we can do at this point?” Gage wrote in a brief email that included a link to

“Matt and I have been talking with them for the last few months — it is my understanding that no, there is not,” Rohlich responded.

Six minutes later, Rohlich send another email:

“I should clarify — we have not been negotiating or discussing options with them — just trying to keep in touch since the buyout — Matt can elaborate,” Rohlich said.

“Just keep us posted and let us know if there is anything you need from us,” Gage replied.

WEDC officials said after the Oscar Mayer announcement that they were first notified of the decision on Nov. 4, and that they reached out to the head of Government Affairs that afternoon. A spokesman said officials were told the Kraft Heinz decision was final. The spokesman said the last contact with the company was in April 2014, when Kraft informed the state it was withdrawing from a tax credit program.

News 3 is continuing to go through documents provided by the city. Stay tuned to News 3 and for updates.