A conservative think tank – led by former staff member of then Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and linked to former Governor Scott Walker – called for the abolition of the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC ) and handing over the administration of state elections to the elected secretary of state.
The think tank, the Institute for Reforming Government, called for changes to the state’s electoral law in a press release Monday morning.
“It’s time to abolish the WEC and implement good government accountability with regards to the Wisconsin elections and work to restore confidence among the residents of Wisconsin,” said Chris Reader, executive vice president of Wisconsin. ‘IRG, in a press release. declaration. “When unelected bureaucrats oversee Wisconsin’s elections, it can lead to the erosion of faith and confidence in our electoral system. Thirty-three other states have elected officials overseeing the electoral process, offering a good measure of accountability by empowering people of all ideological specters to verify who is running the elections. This is good government action that will benefit everyone in Wisconsin.
The chair of the think tank is CJ Szafir, who previously worked for the Fitzgerald team and was executive vice president of the right-wing legal team, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. Walker is named on the think tank’s website as the past National Honorary President.
Based on the latest information available from the think tank tax files, he paid Walker’s consulting firm, the Walker Group, more than $ 164,000 in 2019.
The call comes as Republicans continue efforts to delegitimize the state’s election administration in the wake of the 2020 presidential election and former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen .
This weekend, Assembly President Robin Vos (R-Rochester) met Trump to discuss an ongoing election investigation led by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Gableman recently traveled to South Dakota for a conspiracy theories-laden convention, led by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, where lies were spread about the 2020 election.
Gableman was joined by a state lawmaker and Robert Spindell, a member of the Election Commission who also frequently spread conspiracy theories about last year’s election.
Representative Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), who chairs the Assembly’s Campaigns and Elections Committee, continued his efforts to organize a ‘forensic audit’ of the 2020 elections – similar to the widely filmed audit in derision organized in Arizona.
The conservative group’s call to dissolve the Wisconsin Election Commission – made up of six members, three nominated by Democrats and three by Republicans – comes just six years after Republicans themselves created the commission.
Fitzgerald, now a congressman, and Walker were behind the creation of the WEC in 2015 after disbanding the Government Accountability Board (GAB) over complaints similar to the current complaints about the WEC. The GAB was made up of members appointed by a panel of appellate judges and was responsible for the administration of state laws on elections, ethics, and campaign finance.
Republicans disbanded the ATM after it began investigating Walker for violations of campaign finance laws through so-called John Doe Investigations.
GOP leaders, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, directly cited these inquiries as the reason for the dissolution of the ATM and the creation of two new commissions to take its place – the Wisconsin Election Commission and the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.
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The legislation that created the WEC was introduced by the Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson). Knudson is now a member of the WEC and its past president.
The current Secretary of State for Wisconsin is Democrat Doug La Follette. The office is largely responsible for keeping government records, as Republicans have taken on nearly all of the other responsibilities – and most of the staff – away from the office, they now want to run an election under Walker, moving La Follette to a storage room in the basement of the Capitol. . In 2015, another right-wing think tank, the MacIver Institute, called for abolish the post.
The Institute for Government Reform did not respond to a request for comment.