Wisconsin GOP leader Vos to meet with election fraud backers

·4 min read

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Tuesday he is meeting with advocates for decertifying President Joe Biden's win in the battleground state, hours before he and the state Senate's top Republican were to discuss the topic with county GOP leaders.

Vos told The Associated Press he was also inviting those who believe the 2020 election cannot be decertified to discuss it along with advocates for decertification on Wednesday.

“I still believe that we do not have the ability to decertify, but I said I would listen to those who are bringing experts to say we can and we will see if they can prove their case,” Vos said in an interview.

Vos has been under pressure from former President Donald Trump and other Republicans who support his false claims that the election was stolen and say Vos is not doing enough, including decertifying Biden's win.

The meetings come after the investigator hired by Vos, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, earlier this month urged lawmakers to consider decertifying Biden’s win.

Trump said last week that he was “confident that Robin will exercise his moral duty” and follow up on Gableman's finding, including dissolving the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Vos has said he does not support that. Trump also said, “I would imagine that there can only be a Decertification of Electors.”

Vos and other Republican leaders have repeatedly said that would not be done, citing opinions from the Legislature’s nonpartisan attorneys who have said such a move is illegal. Rick Esenberg, the head of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, also says decertification is illegal.

One of those who will attend the meeting with Vos on Wednesday is former Menomonee Falls village president Jefferson Davis. He has organized a pair of rallies at the Capitol attended by Tim Ramthun, a Republican candidate for governor and state representative who has introduced resolutions to decertify the vote.

Davis said he and others will be presenting evidence to Vos that shows there were between 250,000 and 300,000 fake ballots cast in the election and that decertification can legally be done.

Davis said the goal is to convince Vos and other Republicans that Biden's win should be pulled back or the election should be held again.

“What has to change tomorrow is Robin Vos’ heart and head and soul," Davis said.

Biden's win by just under 21,000 votes over Trump has withstood lawsuits, recounts and reviews by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau.

Gableman's report, which was panned by Democrats and Republicans, did not provide any evidence to back up Davis' claims of more than 250,000 illegally cast ballots. To date, only 24 people out of nearly 3.3 million who cast ballots have been charged with election fraud in Wisconsin. Trump's own attorney general has said there was no widespread fraud.

Still, some Republicans refuse to back down and Vos has authorized Gableman's investigation to continue.

Also Tuesday, the Green Lake County district attorney said she would not press criminal charges against a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission after determining there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove she had committed a crime leading up to the 2020 election.

Three district attorneys have now decided against filing charges against board members who voted not to send election deputies into nursing homes in 2020 to assist residents with voting due to restrictions during the pandemic, a decision that Gableman and others have said opened the door to fraud.

So far, district attorneys in Milwaukee, Racine and Green Lake counties have all declined to bring charges as recommended by a Trump-backing sheriff, citing a lack of evidence. Marge Bostelmann, a Republican, was the latest commissioner not to be charged.

On Wednesday night in Plover, Vos, state Republican Party Chairman Paul Farrow and Senate Republican Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu planned to meet county Republican Party leaders.

Farrow, who called the meeting, said he expected about half of the discussion to focus on election integrity issues.

Farrow said he is focused on the fall election — in which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are on the ballot — not relitigating 2020, and he hopes that following the meeting local leaders will feel the same.

A Marquette University Law School poll of Wisconsin residents released earlier this month found that 67% of respondents said they were very or somewhat confident the election results were accurate. But 61% of Republicans were not confident.

Davis said GOP leaders need to listen more to the concerns of grassroots Republicans who believe the election was stolen.

“This is the No. 1 issue in Wisconsin and it’s not going away," Davis said.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the district attorney who declined to press charges was from Green Lake County, not Green County.