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Tool of the Week: Evers’ spin doctor

Empower Wisconsin | April 13, 2020

MADISON — The Evers administration has been known to stretch the truth in normal times. 

But the whoppers only get bigger in an unprecedented health crisis. 

Like the one Evers’ spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff told last week. 

“Our intention was always to ensure that people could still practice their faith while also following the public health and safety measures necessary to flatten the curve and keep folks safe,” Baldauff told the Associated Press in a bald-faced lie. 

She was responding to the mess Team Evers made of his social-distancing “Safer at Home” order as it related to religious services. On Wednesday, Empower Wisconsin got word that local health agencies were telling places of worship that they could not hold outside, “drive-up” Easter services. One letter insisted that religious entities were not “essential,” contradicting the governor’s original order. 

One thing the “clarifications” of Evers’ emergency edict had in common — local health officials claimed they received their guidance from the state Department of Health Services (DHS). 

Evers and crew heard an earful from congregations across the state. Some 24 hours later, the governor issued a statement insisting that “churches and religious entities are considered essential” and that they can conduct outdoor services in “parking lots with congregants staying in cars, avoiding person-to-person contact.” 

Evers’ press release insisted that he was reiterating that position. But the position clearly changed, just a day before. Even after he sent out his clarification on the clarification, DHS’ website continued to contradict. 

“At the direction of Governor Tony Evers and under the authority of Wis. Stat. § 252.02(3), the Department of Health Services (DHS) orders all nonessential gatherings of 10 people or more be cancelled, postponed, or closed statewide. This order includes places of worship and religious gatherings,” the website stated. 

Sen. Dave Craig (R-Town of Vernon) said it had been an unnecessarily “confusing 24 hours” for places of worship in Wisconsin. 

“How this went down screams of hostility toward religion, and it screams of hostility toward the First Amendment and the free exercise thereof,” Craig said. 

Despite the facts, Evers’ press flack did her boss’ bidding and spun the truth. 

What a good tool, Melissa Baldauff is. 

Empower Wisconsin’s Tool of the Week. 

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