By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Milwaukee’s elections chief has been “bombarded” with hateful and threatening emails following the publication of a troubling email sent to her in the early morning hours after Election Day.
State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), chairwoman of the Assembly committee investigating November’s presidential election, says welcome to the club.
Brandtjen’s office tells Wisconsin Spotlight the lawmaker has received all kinds of nastygrams since March, when the committee began its work.
“Quit wasting tax payer money you dumb f*&#@ing bitch whore,” wrote an individual identified as Jeff Rydeen in an Aug. 7 email.
An email on the same day, apparently from a Jeffrie Carver, accuses Brandtjen of being a “liar and a traitor to our country.” The lawmaker’s investigation, according to the emailer, is an effort to please “your cult leader (T)rump.”
“Let me ask you this – if he asked you to kill yourself like Jim Jones did his followers, would you? You know that he wouldn’t follow suit like Jim Jones, he’d just laugh at your stupidity,” the email states. “You and this bunch of scum bag republicans are not only a threat to our democracy but will go down in history as the party that chose trump over country.”
“I hope you rot!”
Brandtjen’s office says the emails are just a sample of the hostile communications the lawmaker has received over the past several months. Most are filled with foul language and lots of anger. A few have raised alarm bells but haven’t risen to police involvement, according to the lawmaker’s office.
Milwaukee news outlets have reported that Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg has received a “wave” of threatening emails after Wisconsin Spotlight published an email from a liberal activist she responded to on Election Night.
The email was sent by Ryan Chew at 4:07 a.m on Nov. 4, — not long after Milwaukee County’s “lump-sum contribution” of absentee ballots changed Republican President Donald Trump’s lead in battleground Wisconsin to a victory for Democrat challenger Joe Biden.
“Damn Claire, you have a flair for drama, delivering just the margin needed at 3 a.m.,” wrote Chew in the email. “I bet you had those votes counted at midnight, and just wanted to keep the world waiting!”
“Lol. I just wanted to wait to say I had been awake for a full 24 hours!” Woodall-Vogg responded 10 minutes later.
Chew, former long-time deputy director of Elections for Cook County, Ill., was a fierce critic of Trump and an avid supporter of Biden — based on his tweets.. He was one of the many election consultants to Wisconsin’s five largest and heavily Democrat cities. Chew served as Wisconsin state lead for the Elections Group, part of a network of liberal activists funded by hundreds of millions of dollars in election administration grants from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The Milwaukee Police Department and the FBI are reportedly investigating the harassing communications sent to Woodall-Vogg.
“We’re going to try you and we’re going to (expletive) convict you piece of (expletive) (expletive) and we’re going to hang you,” one caller said, according to WISN TV.
Woodall-Vogg, did not return Wisconsin Spotlight’s request for comment. She told WISN the initial e-mail she responded to was an inappropriate joke, adding she shouldn’t have even responded in the first place.
She insists the exchange isn’t evidence of election mismanagement or an attempt to deliver election results, as Chew stated in the email.
Brandtjen said Milwaukee media outlets never reached out to her to ask if she had received hostile communications from people angry about the elections investigation.
She said most of the calls and emails her office have received have been from constituents thanking her and encouraging her to continue the investigation.
“People want to believe that the elections are fair and this is one way to do it, a transparent process. That’s why we’re pushing for that,” Brandtjen said.