Jan. 6 attendee spends month in Wisconsin campaigning for Kelly
Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly speaks to reporters on March 1 | Photo by Henry Redman
A right-wing activist who planned several “stop the steal” protests and was on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack has spent the month of March in Wisconsin campaigning on behalf of conservative state Supreme Court candidate Daniel Kelly.
Scott Presler, a Virginia native with a long history of right-wing extremism, called the Jan. 6 attack, “the largest civil rights protest in American history,” and has posted on social media about coming to Wisconsin to campaign with several local Republican groups. He’s appeared with the Republican Women of Waukesha County — a partisan group which drew attention in 2020 for giving a standing ovation to Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother at an event — and the Kenosha County Republican Party.
“March is dedicated to Wisconsin,” Presler tweeted in late February.
On March 15, a Kelly fundraising event in Brookfield listed Presler as the “special guest.” On March 12, the right-wing radio host Vicki McKenna posted a photo on Twitter of herself and conservative Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Braldey with Presler at an Ozaukee County Republican Party event. Kelly replied to the tweet, thanking the trio for their work helping his campaign.
On March 9, Presler tweeted that he had already appeared on four radio shows in just four days in the state, including the influential shows hosted by McKenna and Dan O’Donnell.
In one radio appearance, Presler said that conservatives should support Kelly’s candidacy for an open seat on the Supreme Court to ensure a conservative majority during lawsuits over the 2024 presidential election.
— Justice Daniel Kelly (@JusticeDanKelly) March 12, 2023
“Absolutely. I mean really, it — if you’re listening right now — even going into the Presidency in 2024. Wisconsin. Swing state,” he said on WSAU. “We know that there’s going to be litigation, we know that things are going to go to the Supreme Court before 2024 right? [That’s] what is on the line.”
Kelly has previously been criticized for his ties to right-wing interests and election denialism. He gave officials with the Republican Party of Wisconsin advice before they cast false Electoral College votes for Donald Trump, who had lost the election in Wisconsin. Kelly has also almost exclusively worked for conservative organizations and the Republican Party itself since he lost reelection to the court in 2020.
Despite all of those ties to partisan interests, Kelly has often made the argument in his campaign that he’s the only one of the two candidates who won’t bring political views to the bench.
The Kelly campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Kelly’s campaigning with Presler. An inquiry to Presler’s organization, Early Vote Action, went unanswered.
From 2017 to 2018, Presler was the lead activism strategist for ACT for America, according to his Facebook page. The Virginia Beach-based organization has been labeled an “extreme hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center and as the largest anti-Muslim organization in the country by the Anti-Defamation League. According to the SPLC, the organization “pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories” and “denigrates American Muslims.” Presler was involved in planning a number of “March Against Sharia” rallies that were held around the country.
Presler has also regularly used hashtags associated with the umbrella of conspiracies theories known as QAnon in his social media posts. Media Matters for America has logged more than 50 posts in which he’s used QAnon related tags.
After Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, Presler became involved in the planning of several “stop the steal” rallies across the country. Those rallies, including several held in Wisconsin, were a key piece of the escalation that led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Presler announced on social media several times that he planned to be in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 and later posted a video of himself at the march on Washington that day protesting Trump’s electoral loss.
Chris Walloch, executive director of A Better Wisconsin Together, a liberal advocacy group that has spent money supporting Kelly’s opponent, Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, said in a statement that Kelly and Presler’s extremism are one and the same, calling them “two extremist peas in a right-wing pod.”
Presler, ahead of his appearance with Kelly, pointed to the Supreme Court’s decision in May 2020 to strike down the state’s stay-at-home order to stop the spread of COVID-19 as a reason to vote for the former justice, who was part of the majority in that decision.
“I can’t overstate the importance of this Wisconsin Supreme Court election,” Presler tweeted on March 15. “A conservative Court struck down democrat Gov. Evers’ stay-at-home order. If liberals win, they’ll be able to lock down Wisconsin businesses, schools, & churches & we’ll be powerless to stop them.”
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