Abetting the premeditated lies that sparked the attack on Congress should trigger a 14th Amendment ban from office, plaintiffs say.
Lawyers representing 10 state residents and the Super PAC of a liberal Wisconsin brewery announced the filing of a federal lawsuit Thursday intended to hold three Republican congressional politicians accountable for interfering with the election of Joe Biden as president.
The repeated actions of US Sen. Ron Johnson and US Reps. Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald to conspire with others–and to impede Biden’s election and repeatedly spread falsehoods that undermined public faith in Biden’s victory over Donald Trump–make the lawmakers insurrectionists who are unsuitable for public office, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit seeks to have the three lawmakers removed from ballots before they are up for election.
Citing a violation by the three lawmakers of the Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, the lawsuit was filed by the Milwaukee firm of Laffey, Leitner and Goode.
“The falsehoods of Johnson, Fitzgerald, and Tiffany about the integrity of Wisconsin’s election procedures began even before citizens were allowed to cast their ballots in the 2020 Presidential Election and continued long after their lies were disproven,” the lawsuit states.
Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC founder Kirk Bangstad said he decided to be part of the lawsuit because the US Justice Department and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul have not yet taken legal action against the three Republican lawmakers 13 months after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
“If we can’t do something now, there is not enough time to get these guys off the ballot,” said Bangstad—a 2020 candidate for state Assembly—said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “If these guys broke the law, they should be held accountable.”
The Disqualification Clause prevents anyone from holding federal public office who has violated the Constitution for taking part in insurrection against the US. It was enacted after the Civil War to prevent members of Congress who had fought for the Confederacy from returning to their lawmaker positions.
In weeks prior to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, Johnson, Tiffany, and Fitzgerald said they would object to certifying Electoral College results confirming that Biden had defeated Donald Trump in the presidential election.
Gerald Lisi of Rice Lake, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the actions of Johnson, Tiffany, and Fitzgerald disparaging Biden’s victory over Trump despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the November 2020 presidential election have created a false narrative that is dangerous to democracy.
As a result, many of his neighbors “believe passionately that the election was stolen from Trump,” Lisi said. “They’re getting all riled up. We can’t just let these representatives run around making up stuff.”
Election results show Biden defeated Trump in Wisconsin by nearly 21,000 votes. Recounts have confirmed Biden as the winner of the race.
Earlier: Persistent 2020 Election Lies by Local Republican Parties Pose ‘Extremely Troubling’ Issues
The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC has backed legal action previously, filing federal lawsuits against Wisconsin school districts that refused to adopt COVID-19 safeguards.
Fighting Fire with Fire
Bangstad started the political action committee on Jan. 4, 2021, two days before the attack on Congress, upset by Republican conduct before and after the November 2020 election. He said Super PACs are a blight on the political system because of the “dark,” often untraceable money given by corporations and wealthy donors—but that the only way to fight them is on their level.
“Minocqua Brewing is a corporation, so why can’t I start a Super PAC just like the Koch Brothers?” Bangstad said at the time. “I call it ‘dark money for good.”PACs (political action committee), first formed in the 1940s, are run and financed by corporations, labor unions, and trade associations. Super PACs resulted from the US Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. PACs and Super PACs have different rules regulating how money is raised, spent, and disclosed. PACs can donate directly to candidates, within limits, while Super PACs cannot. That’s because Super PACs are designed for “independent” political advertising to the public; and there are no limits on the money they can receive or spend.