Judge confirms Republicans cannot fire the state’s top elections official. Some of the other appointees they did fire are speaking out.

By Pat Kreitlow

October 30, 2023

Sen. Kelda Roys: “Republicans think they’re entitled to dictate who the nominees should be, when they lost the election. Gov. Evers has the right to appoint them.”

A judge late last week ruled that Senate Republicans did not have a legal basis to hold a vote they claimed would fire Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe. While Wolfe remains in her post, the same cannot be said for eight appointees of Gov. Tony Evers whom senators fired in apparent retribution—and some of them are speaking out.

Wolfe, a nationally recognized elections administrator who presided over a safe and accurate 2020 presidential election, continues to be targeted by supporters of former President Donald Trump as part of a disinformation campaign to undermine public confidence in the election of President Joe Biden.

Wolfe’s most recent term expired over the summer, but the Elections Commission has not yet forwarded to the Senate any nomination—of Wolfe or a replacement. Republican senators held a vote last month on a renomination of Wolfe that didn’t officially exist. After voting to reject renomination—which would have the effect of firing Wolfe—state Attorney General Josh Kaul filed suit to have the action thrown out. Dane County Circuit Judge Ann Peacock on Friday agreed with Kaul that struck down the vote.

As part of the suit, Republican legislators filed a brief that acknowledged they knew the vote had no legal effect and was merely “symbolic.” Shortly after making that acknowledgement, senators scheduled confirmation votes on eight of Evers’ appointments—rejecting their nominations and firing them, some in the fifth year of service to the state.

“Who in their right mind wants to serve on a board or committee?” Dr. Sheldon Wasserman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, when asked about being removed from the state Medical Examining Board.

Despite receiving overwhelming approval to serve on the board four years earlier, Wasserman said Republicans turned on him over his willingness to seek legal clarity on whether an 1849 law constitutes a ban on abortions.

Melissa Baldauff previously told UpNorthNews Radio about her experience with sexist inquiries from a state senator over her social media posts—she was asked if she hated men and was “emotional.” Baldauff told the Journal Sentinel her ouster from the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse came because, as a domestic abuse survivor, she’s been outspoken about the record rise in domestic abuse deaths in the state.

“They refuse to deal with any of those things,” Baldauff said of Republicans. “Instead, they are firing a lady they don’t like because they don’t like her big mouth about guns and racism and homophobia and misogyny.”

State Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) told UpNorthNews Radio this week her Republican colleagues’ refusal to let a duly-elected governor pick the men and women who serve in state government shows their increased embrace of authoritarianism.

“We have to remember that these are citizen volunteers who stepped forward to serve their community, serving on boards and commissions,” Roys said. “I don’t understand why the Republicans think that they’re entitled to dictate who the nominees should be to these boards and agencies, when they lost the election. Gov. Evers is the governor and he has the right to appoint them. And to have a mass firing like this is authoritarian. And it is one reason why Wisconsin’s Republican Party is the most authoritarian in the country.”

Despite the setback in firing Wolfe, Republicans have turned toward discussions about impeaching Wolfe as well as impeaching state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz for her criticism of Republican-drawn legislative maps, recognized as the most gerrymandered in the country.

Author

  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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