Racine County Sheriff Refers Charges For State Elections Commissioners
Charging recommendations against five of six elections commissioners referred to district attorney.
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling announced in a news release Wednesday that he had referred recommendations for criminal charges against five of the six members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson, a Republican.
Last week, Schmaling called a news conference to lay out allegations of election fraud against the commissioners but said he hadn’t sent the investigation to the DA and was instead calling for a statewide investigation into the matter from Attorney General Josh Kaul. After Kaul declined to open an investigation, Schmaling sent his recommendations, which include felony charges.
Schmaling alleged that once the residents of a Mount Pleasant nursing home used the absentee ballot process, they were illegally coerced by facility staff into voting. Schmaling said some of the residents were cognitively impaired. People with cognitive disabilities are still able to vote unless a judge declares them incompetent.
After Schmaling’s news conference last week, members of the commission and its staff forcefully denied that any laws were broken. Instead they’ve said that without the decision to forgo the SVD process, residents of nursing home facilities would have been disenfranchised.
“To put it simply, we did not break the law,” Commission Chair Ann Jacobs said in a statement last week. “In fact, without action from the Commission, many residents in Wisconsin care facilities could have and would have been disenfranchised and not able to vote in the 2020 elections.”
Misconduct in public office and election fraud, are Class I felonies, each is punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Schmaling did not refer charges for Republican election commissioner Robert Spindell, even though Spindell joined the body in its first vote to forgo the SVD process. Schmaling said in the release that it wasn’t “appropriate” to refer charges for Spindell because he had voted against forgoing the SVD process in later meetings.
The investigation from the Racine County Sheriff’s Office has further emboldened Republicans still seeking to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election a full year after it was held. After Schmaling’s news conference, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) called for the resignation of WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe.
In a news conference on Monday, Wolfe defended the commissioners’ SVD decision and dismissed attacks against her as “partisan politics at its worst.”
A charging recommendation referred to the district attorney from a law enforcement agency does not mean charges will ultimately be filed. The Racine County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
Racine Co. Sheriff refers criminal charges against five elections commissioners was originally published by the Wisconsin Examiner.