Kaul stays mum on whether state is looking at Wisconsin fake electors

By: - July 19, 2023 4:08 pm

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul speaks at a news conference Wednesday. (Erik Gunn | Wisconsin Examiner)

A day after Michigan filed charges against 16 people involved in a scheme to substitute fake electoral votes and shift that state’s 2020 presidential electoral votes from Joe Biden to Donald Trump, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said he could not discuss whether a similar case might be underway in the Badger State.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Kaul was asked about  the conspiracy and forgery charges filed Tuesday by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel against 16 Republicans in that state. The 16 were accused of conspiring to substitute false electoral vote certificates for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election in place of Michigan’s real electoral votes cast for Joe Biden. 

Kaul declined to say Wednesday whether a corresponding investigation is underway in Wisconsin, where a similar attempt was made to substitute the state’s 10 genuine Democratic electoral votes for Biden with 10 false Republican electoral vote certificates for Trump.

“I’m not going to comment directly on issues in Wisconsin,” Kaul told reporters. “We generally don’t confirm or deny the existence of investigations at the Department of Justice except in unique public safety circumstances.”

Kaul said Wednesday that after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, “I talked about how we need to ensure that anybody who was involved in a seditious conspiracy to overturn the results of our elections needs to be held accountable. That absolutely remains my view.”

In seven states that Biden carried in 2020, Republican groups met on Dec. 14 of that year, the same day that genuine electors met across the country to complete certificates formally casting their Electoral College votes for president. In addition to Michigan and Wisconsin, the other states were Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

The pro-Trump groups in those states allegedly signed documents declaring Trump the winner and sent those false documents to the U.S. Senate and the National Archives saying Trump had been reelected.

In a December 2022 interview on WKOW-TV in Madison, Kaul told reporter A.J. Bayatpour that the federal government was investigating the fake electors’ activity. “That doesn’t preclude state action,” Kaul said at the time, “but again, what happens is gonna depend on the facts, and ultimately, what comes of what we’re seeing play out with the federal investigation.”

Kaul also noted in that interview that state investigators sometimes wait on the outcome of federal investigations. “It’s sometimes the case that things happen in parallel,” he said then, adding, “I’m not gonna comment on any potential state actions related to this issue.”

On Tuesday Matt Smith of WISN-TV in Milwaukee asked Gov. Tony Evers whether Kaul should launch a state investigation into the Wisconsin fake electors. “I know he’s been relying on our federal partners, and I think that’s probably a wise choice,” Evers said, according to Smith

Wednesday, Kaul demurred when asked whether he was surprised at the news of the Michigan charges. “I’m not going to comment specifically on the details,” he said. 

Kaul called Nessel “a friend of mine” and noted she had spoken publicly in the past about the case. “So I think what we saw is consistent with what one may have expected from public statements,” he said. “But I can’t comment further on the details of things.”


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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary.