Vos appoints attorney Don Millis to elections commission

By: - June 8, 2022 1:05 pm

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos | official website

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) appointed Republican attorney Don Millis to the newly vacant seat on the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Wednesday. Millis previously served on the WEC as an appointee of then-Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald when the body was created in 2016. 

From 1997-2001, Millis, a tax attorney from Sun Prairie with the law firm Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, served as an appointee of Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson on the Elections Board, which was the body responsible for administering the state’s elections at the time. From 1995-2004, he served as Thompson’s appointee on the Tax Appeals Commission. 

On the Elections Board, according to a release from Vos, Millis advocated for universal paper ballots and voter ID laws — which the state has since instituted. 

Don Millis
Don Millis (Courtesy Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren)

Millis also worked in the state Senate for Sens. Jim Harsdorf (R-Beldenville) and Mac Davis (R-Pewaukee). 

“Don is a respected attorney whose expertise makes him an excellent addition to the Wisconsin Elections Commission,” Vos said in a statement. “I have no doubt he will apply election laws fairly and ensure current law is being followed.” 

Millis will fill the seat previously held by Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson. Late last month, Knudson unexpectedly resigned after he became the target of Republicans who believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. Knudson had said President Joe Biden won the election. 

Knudson was also targeted for votes he took on issues that have since become major right-wing talking points surrounding election administration. Knudson joined the WEC’s decision to not send voting assistants into nursing homes at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. That decision has since led the Republican sheriff of Racine County to recommend felony charges against Knudson and four other commissioners. 

The WEC is made up of three Democratic and three Republican appointees. Millis’ appointment comes just days before the body will vote for its next chair. The current chair is Democratic appointee Ann Jacobs and by law the next chair must be a Republican. Millis and Republican commissioner Robert Spindell are the only two commissioners eligible to hold the leadership post. Spindell was one of 10 fake electors from Wisconsin who cast invalid Electoral College votes for Trump in 2020. 

Spindell has also been vocal in his belief that the 2020 election wasn’t conducted fairly. 

The next chair will hold the seat during this fall’s midterm elections and the months leading up to the 2024 presidential election. The chair is responsible for approving the vote canvass that occurs following elections, certifying the results as accurate — an action that was heavily politicized in 2020. 

The chair also sets the commission’s agenda and influences how questions to the body’s nonpartisan staff are framed. 

It takes four votes to pass any measure before the WEC. 

On Friday, the commission will also vote to certify candidates’ access to the ballot for the primary election in August. Challenges have been filed against nearly a dozen candidates, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels

In Vos’ announcement of Millis as the new commissioner, Republicans from several wings of the party supported his choice. 

“I’ve known Don for decades,” former Gov. Thompson said. “He’s a true conservative fighter who understands election law and knows how to get things done. I can’t think of anyone better for this position.” 

Michael Gableman, the controversial former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who has been running a partisan review of the 2020 election for nearly a year, making baseless allegations of fraud and suggesting illegal actions, said Millis will take on the “leftist members” of the WEC. 

“Don will bring with him both the intellectual firepower and courageous resolve that are both necessary to enable him to help put a stop to the lawless actions of the leftist members of WEC,” Gableman said. 

The WEC is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on Friday.

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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.