MADISON – Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Daniel Kelly said Thursday he's not bothered that one of his vocal supporters is connected to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Scott Presler, a Virginia native and conservative activist who planned several "stop the steal" rallies that promoted false claims about the 2020 election and was on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is backing Kelly and campaigning in Wisconsin on his behalf.
"We're coming down to the final days of this race and with your help, we're taking the fight to Janet! Voters now see her for who she is — a politician in a robe," Kelly tweeted this week with a video of him and Presler.
We're coming down to the final days of this race and with your help, we're taking the fight to Janet! Voters now see her for who she is - a politician in a robe. @ScottPresler is traveling Wisconsin with us and for us to spread our message, but we need your help! - Team Kelly pic.twitter.com/8jo2SJuZpJ
— Justice Daniel Kelly (@JusticeDanKelly) March 22, 2023
When asked about Presler's connection to the Jan. 6 insurrection during a brief press gathering following a luncheon with the Dane County Bar Association, Kelly said he "doesn't know anything about Jan. 6 or anything like that."
"I appreciate a great deal the work he is doing in Wisconsin, I think it is invaluable — going around the state of Wisconsin and talking about how important it is for people to exercise their power, their authority and decide who is going to sit on the Supreme Court," Kelly said.
When pressed, Kelly said everyone has a background and a history.
"I don't ask people to sit for an examination before they help me," Kelly said. "There are people all over the state of Wisconsin that have all kinds of different beliefs and all kinds of different backgrounds who are doing their absolute level best to encourage the people of Wisconsin to come out to exercise their privilege and their power. I don't ask them what their backgrounds are. I'll take their help any day of the week."
Presler has also worked for the anti-Muslim group Act for America.
This week, Kelly appeared virtually at an event in western Wisconsin with Matthew Trewhella, a Brookfield pastor who called the murder of an abortion provider "justifiable homicide," advocated for the creation of anti-abortion-focused militia and compared coronavirus pandemic-related mask mandates to the Holocaust.
When asked about the appearance on Thursday in Madison, Kelly said he did not condone violence and he is not associated with Trewhella in any way.
"I obviously speak for myself," Kelly said. "I was invited to deliver comments for an organization, I delivered my comments. I'm not responsible for what anyone else says."
Kelly is challenging liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz. Her endorsements include Hillary Clinton and EMILY's List, which works nationwide to elect Democratic abortion rights supporters.
Protasiewicz's spokesman Sam Roecker said Kelly's willingness to take support from "violent revolutionaries" this week knows no bounds.
"And his understanding of the Constitution apparently stops at the point where it mentions our democracy and the right to vote," Roecker said. "Welcoming an election-denier, who dismissed the deadly Jan. 6th insurrection as a ‘civil rights protest,’ just a day after appearing with someone who called for violence if they can’t win an election, tells you everything you need to know about how extreme Dan Kelly is.”
Corrinne Hess can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CorriHess
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Dan Kelly campaigns with Jan. 6 participant Scott Presler