MADISON — A state senator says emails showing the influence of left-leaning outside groups on Green Bay’s November elections drive home the need for election reforms.
Republican lawmakers have introduced several reform bills in recent weeks, written to deal with serious legal questions that came out of the hotly contested presidential election.
State Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), and his colleagues have been working on a bill that addresses some of the concerns surrounding the Green Bay scandal.
“It is deeply disturbing that out-of-state special interests sought to insert themselves into our Wisconsin election and ran roughshod over a municipal clerk who was doing the right thing,” Stroebel said in a statement following an Assembly hearing Wednesday into the involvement of well-heeled liberal groups. “The released emails and news reports depict an appalling picture of overtly partisan individuals attempting to subvert a municipal clerk’s local systems and processes that were put in place to follow the law and efficiently administer an election.”
Legislation crafted by Stroebel and fellow Republicans Sens. Roger Roth, Alberta Darling, and Reps. Adam Neylon, Cindi Duchow and others would require any private funds donated or granted to support elections, like those from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, to go first to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The funds would then be distributed on a per-capita basis to all municipalities in the state.
As Wisconsin Spotlight first reported this week, the Center for Tech and Civic Life, funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, distributed $6.3 million in “safe election” grants to Wisconsin’s five largest cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. Emails obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight show CTCL’s liberal partner groups intricately involved in Green Bay’s election system. A former Democratic operative had access to absentee ballots and asked if he could “cure” or correct ballots.
“We must ensure that these kinds of grants are transparent, come with no strings attached, and are equally distributed across the state. Large, out-of-state special interests should not be able to favor specific communities over others and strong-arm their way into election administration,” Stroebel said.