Wisconsin Public Radio

Five Republicans Move To Impeach Elections Administrator

Meagan Wolfe says legislators willfully distorting the truth.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Sep 22nd, 2023 10:21 am
Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe, left, is seen during a September 2018 meeting of the Elections Commission with then-Commissioner Dean Knudson. Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe, left, is seen during a September 2018 meeting of the Elections Commission with then-Commissioner Dean Knudson. Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Watch

Five Republican lawmakers are moving to impeach Meagan Wolfe as Wisconsin’s top election administrator, one week after the state Senate voted to fire her — a vote that is being contested in court.

The GOP representatives circulated a resolution for co-sponsorship on Thursday that calls for Wolfe to be impeached from her post as administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, citing “maladministration during her tenure” and arguing Wolfe “promoted and encouraged” illegal voting behavior.

“This impeachment is proposed to save taxpayer funds and reaffirm the legislature’s authority to remove an administrator who has failed to adhere to existing statutes,” the resolution states.

Wolfe issued a statement in response to the impeachment effort, saying the legislators were “willfully” distorting the truth.

“No matter how many times some politicians misrepresent my actions and how this agency works, it does not make what they’re saying true. Contrary to what’s said in this resolution, every major decision relating to the 2020 presidential election was made by the agency’s six bipartisan Commissioners in public meetings,” Wolfe stated. “It’s irresponsible for this group of politicians to willfully distort the truth when they’ve been provided the facts for years.”

A party-line vote in the state Senate last Thursday called for Wolfe’s ouster from the post. But Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul immediately filed a lawsuit saying that vote was unlawfully taken and has no standing.

That’s because of a winding saga that began this summer, when Wolfe did not step down from her position at the end of her term and the Wisconsin Elections Commission did not renominate her.

Kaul and other Democrats argue that — because of a legal precedent set by a conservative court regarding a Republican governor’s appointee — the lack of a nomination means Wolfe can stay in the post indefinitely.

Following the Senate vote, Wolfe said she would continue working unless and until a court told her not to.

“My position as administrator is, of course, subject to removal by the majority vote of the commission at any time,” she said last week. “In the meantime, unless a final determination of a court says otherwise, I will continue to serve as the administrator of the (Wisconsin Elections Commission).”

Wolfe does not write election policy. She communicates policy written by the Wisconsin Elections Commission to local clerks across the state. She nevertheless has become the face of criticism over how Wisconsin’s 2020 election played out, in which former President Donald Trump narrowly lost to President Joe Biden.

While that result has been confirmed by recounts, audits and investigations, Wolfe has weathered false claims of voter fraud for years. Some Republicans who voted against her last week cited those claims as evidence that Wolfe has lost the confidence of the voting public.

Thursday’s resolution was co-authored by five Republican members of the Assembly, some of whom have been outspoken deniers of the 2020 election outcome. Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, has called for Wisconsin’s 2020 election results to be decertified. Rep. Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego, along with Brandtjen, were among 15 Wisconsin lawmakers who signed onto a letter asking former Vice President Mike Pence to delay certifying those results, the day before the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The resolution says Wolfe promoted a policy of the commission that allowed absentee ballot applications to be illegally altered during the 2020 election. That’s a reference to a process called “ballot curing,” in which clerks fix errors on absentee ballots, such as incomplete witness addresses. The elections commission established guidelines for ballot curing in 2016; that guidance went unchallenged until after Trump’s loss in 2020 and was struck down in 2022.

In a statement, Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, connected the move to other recent threats by Wisconsin Republicans to impeach state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz.

“Legislative Republicans…are clearly willing to sink to incredible lows to cement their power and undermine the will of the people,” she said.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

Republicans move to impeach Meagan Wolfe, one week after Senate vote against her confirmation was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

7 thoughts on “Five Republicans Move To Impeach Elections Administrator”

  1. mr_cox says:

    “Some Republicans who voted against her last week cited those claims as evidence that Wolfe has lost the confidence of the voting public.”

    There’s the projection of the Gaslight Obstruct Project party being expressed.

    The sheer amount of public money, effort, and principles the GOP wastes these days is depressing. Yet, Meagan Wolfe calmly grings through teir nonsense. Respect.

  2. Alan Bartelme says:

    What 5 Assembly members are circulating this? The article only mentions Brandtjen and Wichgers. It would be nice to know what elected wackos are pushing this trash.

  3. bigb_andb says:

    Republican better ideas is to suppress other ideas.

  4. Thomas Sepllman says:

    Yes who are the 5 and a more detailed what they claim and what the TRUTH is and then CALLING them OUT for the LIES they are telling Unless we CALL THEM OUT they will get by with the LIES Just a morning thought.

  5. CraigR says:

    I wonder if you looked at the news 50 years ago, would you find the state legislature spending their time devoted to crap like this? If we had fair maps, maybe we could return to legislation that matters to all of us.

  6. Mingus says:

    Does it ever occur to the Republicans that their blatant attempts at voter suppression also keeps persons from voting who would want to vote for Republican candidates?

  7. joerossm says:

    The WKOW site tells me that “Representatives Janel Brandtjen, Scott Allen, Elijah Behnke, Ty Bodden and Chuck Wichgers co-sponsored the resolution.”

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