Meanwhile, a QAnon sympathizer from Nashotah makes a court appearance for a paintball attack on Army Reservists and promising further violence.
A Republican lawmaker from Fond du Lac County isn’t the only legislator continuing to undermine public confidence in Wisconsin elections with false and vague claims, but Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport) is getting noticed for a growing number of connections to the QAnon conspiracy theory, believers of which are being watched by law enforcement out of concerns related to potential domestic terrorism.
In a video titled “The Calm Before the Storm”—a phrase frequently used by QAnon—Ramthun acknowledges an effort to raise private donations to continue questioning last November’s presidential election results, even though he and other Wisconsin Republicans have attacked the way private donations were used to assist local election efforts last year.
QAnon bases its existence on false conspiracy theories ranging from Satan-worshiping pedophile politicians to claims that former President Donald Trump will be restored to an office he lost in an election repeatedly shown to be fair and secure.
A report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes Ramthun in his July 23 video as seeking assistance from CyberNinjas, a right-wing group that performed a forensic “audit” of ballots in Arizona. The slipshod process that followed was so chaotic and unsecured that Maricopa County will have to buy new election equipment.
“Cyber Ninjas, for instance, can help us out,” Ramthun said in the video. “We’re working on funding, which would not be something for the taxpayer. I’m trying to do this without any tax dollars from the state of Wisconsin.”
Last week, Ramthun appeared on a show dedicated to QAnon, according to the media watchdog group Media Matters for America, and repeatedly made false claims about the election while calling for a review process similar to Arizona’s.
In seeking private fundraising for any kind of additional, unwarranted ballot review, Ramthun is going against his own vote and the votes of fellow Republicans for a bill aimed at barring private funds from being used to assist communities in holding secure elections. Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the bill.
Since the election, GOP legislators have leveled numerous claims about The Center for Tech and Civic Life, a national group that donated more than $10 million to more than 200 communities in Wisconsin swamped with extra expenses because of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite nationwide pleas for assistance last year, Republicans in Congress never took up an aid package proposed by Democrats to provide financial assistance for local election operations. Multiple legislative hearings were used to criticize the private funding but ultimately uncovered no fraud or criminal activity.
Ramthun last month released a rambling laundry list of demands that last November’s ballots be examined for things that included the quality of the paper, whether the ink on the paper was light or heavy, and how or whether machines creased ballots while folding them.
After Ramthun’s appearance on the QAnon show, its hosts praised him and closed the program with one of the cult’s signature phrases. Numerous QAnon supporters were participants in the Jan. 6 US Capitol insurrection.
On Monday, a QAnon supporter from Nashotah agreed to a plea agreement in federal court over a March incident in Pewaukee when he fired paintball shots at a US Army Reservists outside an Army facility in Pewaukee. Ian Olson, 31, pulled up in a car spray-painted with QAnon slogans and fired an AR-15-style paintball gun until it jammed and the reservists were able to tackle him. Subsequent searches of his home and car discovered an actual AR-15, ammunition, and other weapons and gear. At an earlier court appearance, Olson promised a “mass casualty” event if he ever got out of jail.
At this week’s appearance, Olson agreed to plead guilty to one federal charge of attacking the US servicemen in exchange for a second federal charge being dropped, according to WDJT-TV.