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Panel looking to subpoena witnesses in Green Bay election scandal

MADISON — In the wake of emails showing outside liberal groups commandeering Green Bay’s November elections, the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee is seeking greater authority to investigate.

State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), the committee’s vice chair, tells Empower Wisconsin his Republican colleagues are sponsoring a resolution that would give the panel investigative authority, equipping them with subpoena power to compel witnesses to testify.

Sanfelippo, who crafted the resolution, said subpoenas have not been used in the Legislature in decades, but the authority will be vital in getting to the bottom of the election scandal in Green Bay.

“We want to subpoena this Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein and find out who he was working for, what his job was supposed to be, how he got paid,” the lawmaker said. “We want to hold people accountable.”

In a special report this week, Wisconsin Spotlight published emails showing Spitzer-Rubenstein, a former Democratic operative, served as a de facto elections administrator and had access to Green Bay’s absentee ballots days before the election. And Spitzer-Rubenstein asked Green Bay’s clerk if he and his team members could help correct or “cure” absentee ballots like they did in Milwaukee.

Spitzer-Rubenstein worked for the National Vote at Home Institute, one of several private, left-leaning groups, funded largely by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, exerting significant influence over the administration of the presidential election in Wisconsin’s five largest cities. The Center for Tech and Civic Life received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from Zuckerberg and his wife, money they pumped out in big grants to to cities in the name of “safe elections.”

Sanfelippo said he also wants former Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske to testify before the committee. Teske, the emails suggest, grew so frustrated by the constant meddling into her office from the mayor’s staff, Spitzer-Rubenstein and the “grant team” that she took a leave of absence not long before the election. She later resigned and took a clerk position in a neighboring community.

Sanfelippo has been working on the resolution for over a month. He wants to bring in officials from the Wisconsin Elections Commission to explain their questionable interpretations of election law leading up to and through the presidential election.

According to statute, Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) could grant the committee subpoena authority. The committee chair could also do so. But Sanfelippo said the committee would like to get buy-in from the full Assembly. The hope is the Assembly takes up the resolution as soon as next week’s floor session.

It looks like the Elections Committee will expand its investigation into the handling of the presidential election in Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha and Racine — the four other cities that split a $6.3 million grant from the Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life. The emails obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight suggest Spitzer-Rubenstein was working very closely with Milwaukee elections officials. He claims in one email that he helped “cure” ballots there.

“If we keep letting people get away with breaking the rules and with all this outside money coming in, it’s not going to go away. They’re only going to keep doing it,” Sanfelippo said.

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