Two Wisconsin GOP members cast fraudulent Electoral College votes. Now Congress is investigating.
Members of the US House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol issued subpoenas to two Wisconsin Republicans Friday compelling them to provide documents and testimony.
The two prominent Wisconsin GOP members targeted in the subpoenas, former state party Chairman Andrew Hitt and 8th Congressional District GOP Chair Kelly Ruh, were among a group who signed fraudulent documents declaring former President Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin.
“We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Mississippi) who chairs the committee, said in a written statement. “We encourage them to cooperate with the Select Committee’s investigation to get answers about Jan. 6 for the American people and help ensure nothing like that day ever happens again.”
On Dec. 14, 2020, Democrats met in the state Capitol Building to declare Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden. On the same day, another group composed of Republican leaders did the same elsewhere in the building.
The subpoenas tell Hitt and Ruh to turn over all documents related to the Dec. 14 meeting and the later insurrection at the US Capitol. They also say Hitt and Ruh will need to testify before the committee on Feb. 28.
A total of 14 people across the country associated with efforts to cast fraudulent Electoral College votes for Trump were subpoenaed by the committee.
Leaders have called on state Attorney General Josh Kaul and other high-ranking law enforcement officials to investigate Hitt, Ruh, and the others to sign the false elector documents, including 1st Congressional District GOP Vice Chair Carol Brunner, Midwest Region for the Republican National Committee Vice Chair Mary Buestrin, 6th Congressional District GOP Chair Darryl Carlson, La Crosse County Republican Party Chair Bill Feehan, Dane County Republican Party Chair Scott Grabins, 5th Congressional District GOP Chair Kathy Kiernan, Wisconsin Elections Commissioner Robert Spindell, and 1st Congressional District GOP Vice Chair Pam Travis.
Wisconsin was one of seven states to submit so-called “alternative electors” in a ploy to get then-Vice President Mike Pence—acting in his largely ceremonial role of counting the votes before a joint session of Congress—to certify the election in favor of himself and Trump.
The former president pushed Pence to go along with the scheme, but in the end, the former VP said he lacked the constitutional authority to do as he was asked.
On Jan. 6, 2021, the day that Congress was certifying the election, Trump instructed a crowd to march to the Capitol and “show strength.” Demonstrators turned into rioters and insurrectionists as they breached the Capitol building while some chanted “Hang Mike Pence” and slung a noose over scaffolding set up for Biden’s inauguration later that month.
The Election Day tally and a partial recount paid for by former President Donald Trump’s campaign both affirmed Biden’s victory in Wisconsin by a margin of approximately 20,000 ballots. Congress ultimately certified the election in Biden’s favor.
In a statement, Hitt told the Wisconsin State Journal he “absolutely will cooperate with the committee’s request to provide information.” He claimed the false Wisconsin electors “were simply following the guidance of Wisconsin legal counsel to preserve the ongoing Wisconsin legal strategy.”
A bipartisan group of senators are working to draft legislation that would clarify the vice president’s role in counting Electoral College votes. However, activists warn that the true threat to the future of American democracy is likely to come from Republican-controlled state legislatures, like the one in Wisconsin, choosing to disregard the popular vote in their state and appoint their own slate of electors.