PowerUp: Sen. Roger Roth calls on Senate to fire Evers’ Parole chief

Empower Wisconsin  | May 19, 2022

MADISON — In what appears to be an unprecedented move, State Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) is asking the state Senate to convene an extraordinary session to vote on firing Gov. Tony Evers’ controversial Parole Commission chairman.

Roth on Wednesday launched a petition drive. He needs at least 17 senators to sign in order to convene the special session for the sole purpose of holding a confirmation hearing on Parole Board Commissioner John Tate. Tate was set to release from prison Douglas Balsewicz, who brutally murdered his wife in front of his young children.

Balsewicz has served just 24 years of an 80-year prison sentence. Tate determined Balsewicz had served a “sufficient” amount of time. He was set to be released this week before intensive public pressure forced Evers to ask Tate to reverse his decision. Tate ultimately relented.

Roth said it should be clear to anyone that Tate has failed in his judgment as chairman of the Parole board.

“No reasonable person in Wisconsin could look at that and say this guy is ready for release,” Roth told Empower Wisconsin’s M.D. Kittle Wednesday on the Vicki McKenna Show. “And so I’m bringing this petition to compel the Senate to come in, take an up or down vote on John Tate.”

The petition calls for the session to be held a week from today.

Roth, who also is running for lieutenant governor, said he’s taking the petition route as a rank-and-file member of the Legislature because Republican leadership have signaled they won’t call a special session to vote on Tate’s confirmation. Tate is one of several Evers’ appointees for which the Republican-controlled Senate has yet to schedule a confirmation hearing.

Roth is hopeful once a confirmation hearing is called, Republican senators will vote to reject his confirmation, effectively removing Tate from the commission — something Evers refuses to do. Roth said at least eight Republican senators have said they would vote to fire the commission chair.

Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) supports Roth’s petition.

“John Tate must be removed from his position. I will vote to reject his appointment and end his authority on the Parole Commission,” Nass said in a statement.

Sen. Roger Roth is our guest on today’s edition of PowerUp, Empower Wisconsin’s podcast.

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