Brief

Vos advances Wolfe impeachment resolution two days after start of attack ads targeting him

By: - November 2, 2023 6:15 pm

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos | official website

Two days after the launch of a pressure campaign directed at Assembly Speaker Robin Vos by activists seeking to impeach the Wisconsin elections administrator, Vos formally advanced the impeachment resolution Thursday.

Vos is the target of a radio and television campaign in Milwaukee media accusing him of “standing in the way” of efforts to impeach Wisconsin Elections Administrator Meagan Wolfe. FCC records show the ads began airing Oct. 30, according to WisPolitics.com, which first reported the campaign.

In the ads, a narrator urges listeners to call Vos and “let him know he needs to listen to the Assembly and allow for the impeachment process to happen, or he will be replaced, whether through recall process or a primary challenger.”

Authors of the resolution to impeach Wolfe began circulating a draft for cosponsors Sept. 21, and the resolution languished in the Capitol for more than three weeks before it was formally introduced Thursday.

The resolution’s lead author, Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) issued a statement Tuesday saying that she had submitted the resolution 23 days earlier.  Assembly rules call for the speaker to give legislation a number and assign it to a committee within 10 days after it is submitted, although there are no penalties for ignoring that deadline.

In a statement Thursday morning, Vos called the ad campaign attacking him “misleading” and noted that a recent court ruling has blocked the Legislature temporarily from removing Wolfe.

“The people running these ads are obviously from out-of-state since anyone living in Wisconsin would know of recent events,” Vos stated. “They appear to be uninformed and not following what’s actually going on in our state.”

Wolfe has been the target of repeated attacks by activists who have promoted false claims about the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin and have falsely blamed Wolfe for policies that were passed by the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s six members, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

President Joe Biden carried the state by about 21,000 votes, and subsequent investigations and legal challenges seeking to overturn the outcome have found no evidence of alleged fraud.

The impeachment articles repeat claims that have been repeatedly debunked, accusing Wolfe of mishandling the 2020 election, and the ads targeting Vos echo many of those claims as well. The draft impeachment resolution was found to contain “misleading or false claims about how elections administration works in Wisconsin” in every one of its 15 articles, according to a PolitiFact review published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The resolution language introduced Thursday appears unchanged.

The attacks on Wolfe culminated in a state Senate vote Sept. 14 by the body’s 22 Republicans against Wolfe’s reappointment to the election administration post when her term ended June 30.

Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit on Wolfe’s behalf charging that the Senate vote was improper because Wolfe’s appointment was not officially advanced to the Senate, and that Wolfe was a legal holdover occupant of her office under a 2022 state Supreme Court ruling. A Dane County circuit judge issued a temporary injunction Oct. 27 in that lawsuit blocking the Legislature from removing Wolfe.

Vos is a defendant in that lawsuit along with Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and Senate President Chris Kapenga.

“Whether we like the result or not, a Dane County judge has issued a ruling saying we cannot remove Meagan Wolfe at least until the court issues a final ruling,” Vos said in his statement Thursday morning. “I think she should be replaced, but we now have to wait for the court process to work.”

The TV and Radio ads attacking Vos and Wolfe were purchased by a group formed by Adam Steen, who challenged Vos in a primary race in 2022 for his Assembly seat, and Harry Wait, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, citing FCC records. Wait is the leader of a Racine County group called H.O.T. Government that has promoted unsubstantiated claims of cheating and fraud in elections. He has been charged with fraudulently requesting absentee ballots for other voters, including Racine Mayor Cory Mason, in what Wait said was an effort to demonstrate the potential for cheating.

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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.

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