By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe defended the scandal-plagued agency Tuesday against the damning findings of a state audit, but deferred to her bosses to explain why some of the red flags raised are “factually incorrect.”
WEC’s six commissioners didn’t show up to Tuesday’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee’s public hearing on the Legislative Audit Bureau’s (LAB) review of the November 2020 presidential election — particularly the Elections Commission and local clerks handling of it. Instead, the commissioners say they will meet in early December to discuss the audit and the hearing and check back in with the committee at a later date.
That lack of urgency infuriated Audit Committee members like Rep. John Macco (R-Ledgview), who said he found it “repugnant and insulting” that only Wolfe showed up, only to accuse the nationally respected LAB of “errors,” but couldn’t answer many of the committee’s questions. Macco said he found it interesting that WEC was able to call a couple of emergency meetings after the audit was released last month and following Racine County Sheriff’s Department report of its investigation that found the Elections Commission broke state election law.
“I find this whole thing a joke today. You’ve done nothing to allay my concerns,” Macco said.
Wolfe shot back that she can’t make the commission appear before the Audit Committee.
“I can’t force the commission to meet. I have no votes on the commission,” she said. “I’m not sure what you’re implying I should have done other than provide the facts on how elections are conducted.”
But Republican committee members struggled with Wolfe’s version of the facts.
Among the revelations at Tuesday’s hearing was the fact that the three Democrat members of the commission refused to meet with state auditors.
“Commissioners Thomsen, Glancey and Jacobs refused to even speak with the Audit Bureau about their investigation – Wisconsinites deserve transparency, not secrecy,” Audit Committee member, Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) tweeted during the hearing.
State Auditor Joe Chrisman addressed the city of Madison’s refusal to allow auditors to physically inspect election records. The city insists it is simply following U.S. Department of Justice guidance on securing ballots and chain of custody, but legislative advisors say the city isn’t prohibited from cooperating with the Audit Bureau.
“The method we found by the city of Madison was unacceptable,” Chrisman said.
WEC told LAB the electronic equipment “for the most part” accurately counted the ballots.
“There are certain levels of accuracy that I would expect. When it comes to elections, I don’t know ‘for the most part’ is a high enough standard,” Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) said.
The audit makes dozens of recommendations to WEC and local election authorities on administering elections. The commission was found to have repeatedly ignored or violated state election law.
“From an auditor’s perspective, as an entity you are required to comply with statute.” Chrisman told Audit Committee members when asked about WEC’s failure to comply with state election law.
Wolfe got backup from more than 50 election officials in a letter to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester.”
“Year after year, Wisconsin election officials deliver accurate, secure, and accessible elections that give voice to the citizens of the state,” states the letter, which was organized by the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR)
What mainstream media outlets failed to note is that CEIR is a liberal electoral policy advocacy group created after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. It is funded by Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, who pumped $50 million into the liberal activist group. Zuckerberg dropped some $450 million on left-wing organizations that infiltrated the election offices in Wisconsin’s largest and Democrat-controlled cities. Emails show Wolfe recommending the groups to some of the cities.