Empower Wisconsin | May 15, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — More than two months after seeking records on dozens of voters who illegally voted in the 2018 election, the Wisconsin Elections Commission has failed to fill Empower Wisconsin’s open records request.
In fact, a spokesman for the commission has refused to answer Empower Wisconsin’s follow-up emails seeking an update.
A Wisconsin open records expert says two months is too long.
“They should have provided these records by now or at least given you a very good reason why it’s taking so long,” said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.
While Lueders notes the pandemic has pushed back records retrieval in many cases, he said the agency should have provided an answer of some kind by now.
The agency has not, despite the importance of the records to the public interest.
Empower Wisconsin is seeking the names of suspects involved in 43 cases of voter fraud, as well as the names of the prosecutors overseeing the cases.
As Empower Wisconsin first reported in early March, the commission referred the cases of double voting to district attorneys in 19 counties. The suspects allegedly engaged in “cross-state voting” in the November 2018 general election.
State statute prohibits anyone from intentionally voting “more than once in the same election.” Doing so is a Class I Felony, punishable by 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Commissioner Bob Spindell, Jr. told Empower Wisconsin at the time he hopes prosecutors in the counties where the fraud allegedly occurred will thoroughly investigate the complaints.
Commission spokesman Reid Magney has not answered Empower Wisconsin’s emails seeking an update on the request.
Nor has he responded to Empower Wisconsin’s question regarding the commission staff member who advised liberal Dane County Clerk Scott McDonnell that he could break election law. State Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) said McDonnell told her that a commission staff attorney advised that Dane County voters could be classified as “indefinitely confined” because of Gov. Tony Evers’ order requiring residents to stay at home. The coronavirus-related edict, the clerk argued, allows all voters to get around the state’s voter ID requirement in mailing in their absentee ballot.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the directive by McDonnell and his counterpart in Milwaukee broke state election law.
Was it commission staff attorney Nathan Judnic, the partisan elections law attorney who played a key role in Wisconsin’s unconstitutional John Doe investigations? Or was it Michael Haas, the former WEC administrator (also integrally involved in the John Doe) who engaged in a failed political fight against Senate Republicans to keep his leadership post?
Haas recently was named Madison’s new city attorney.