WASHINGTON – For months, Sen. Ron Johnson has drawn scrutiny for his office’s role in attempting to deliver false packets of electors to former Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6.
While the Oshkosh Republican continues to downplay his office’s connection to the effort, saying his participation lasted just seconds, one of Wisconsin’s false electors has been working on Johnson’s reelection campaign.
Pam Travis, one of 10 Wisconsin Republicans who signed official-looking paperwork falsely claiming to be a presidential elector in 2020, has been a full-time staffer on Johnson’s competitive reelection bid since March 2022, according to the woman’s LinkedIn profile.
Federal Election Commission reports indicate Johnson’s campaign paid Travis more than $10,200 for her work since April, and the campaign reimbursed Travis for just over $3,500 in mileage costs between May and July.
Travis is active in Wisconsin politics. She serves as the GOP’s 7th Congressional District’s vice chair and is the former treasurer of the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women. In May, Travis was secretary for the party's state convention — introduced by U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil as a “longtime grassroots" supporter.
Now a grassroots organizer for Johnson, Travis was also a county coordinator for the senator during his 2016 campaign.
She is not the only so-called alternate elector from Wisconsin to get involved in a campaign this midterm cycle.
Bill Feehan, chairman of the La Crosse County Republican Party who also signed the false election paperwork, sat on an advisory board for former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch's gubernatorial campaign. Kleefisch lost her primary to construction executive Tim Michels.
Travis' work on Johnson's current race against Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, however, comes amid revelations this summer that Johnson's office communicated with Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly's team to try to hand Pence false elector paperwork from Wisconsin and Michigan as part of former President Donald Trump's effort to stop certification of the 2020 election.
A Pence aide told Johnson's chief of staff not to give Pence the documents shortly before Congress was set to certify Joe Biden's election win, and the electors were never delivered.
Still, Johnson has come under fire for his office's connection to the effort. On Tuesday, Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Phil Shulman said: "Instead of focusing on what's best for Wisconsinites — lowering costs and supporting the creation of good paying jobs — Ron Johnson's working to undermine democracy."
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Madison, said her Republican counterpart's actions amounted to "direct support for Trump's conspiracy to overturn the will of the people in Wisconsin."
Travis in a phone call with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel declined to answer questions about her work for Johnson and referred inquiries to Johnson’s campaign.
In a statement, Johnson campaign spokesman Ben Voelkel called Travis a "dedicated volunteer who has been active in the Republican Party grassroots for years," adding that the campaign is "proud to have her on the team."
"It is really sad that Mandela Barnes supporters are going as low as to levy a baseless attack against a private citizen while Barnes himself dodges media scrutiny on a near-daily basis," Voelkel said.
Johnson himself has repeatedly downplayed his involvement in the effort to pass to Pence the false electors.
When asked during a campaign stop last week if he would testify before the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol about Wisconsin’s slate of false electors, Johnson said he “had nothing to do with Jan. 6.”
“Another grotesque distortion,” Johnson told WISN’s Matt Smith. “I had nothing to do with the alternate slate. I had no idea that anybody was going to ask me to deliver those.”
“My involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple seconds,” Johnson said. “I think I fielded three texts and sent two and talked to my chief of staff that somebody wants you to deliver something.”
He added: “I knew nothing about it, and in the end, those electors were not delivered because we found out from the vice president’s staff they didn’t want them delivered. End of story.”
Jan. 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told the Journal Sentinel in June that Johnson’s connections to the false electors were not a priority for the group. Further investigation into those electors in Wisconsin and six other states, Thompson said, is being pursued by the Department of Justice.
The DOJ has subpoenaed a number of people connected to the elector scheme as part of its probe in multiple states, including some of the false electors themselves.
Two of Wisconsin's false electors, Hitt, the former Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman, and the GOP's 8th Congressional District chairwoman Kelly Ruh, were ordered in January to testify in front of the Jan. 6 committee.
Some of Wisconsin’s Republican electors have argued they were following legal advice and directives of the Trump campaign in the event the now-failed court battles over the election were decided in favor of Trump.
It is not clear whether any of Wisconsin’s 10 electors have been subpoenaed by the Justice Department.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ron Johnson reelection campaign employs a Wisconsin GOP false elector