MADISON – Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has been assigned to impeachment committee against the Wisconsin elections chief amid a six-figure ad campaign threatening his removal — a campaign launched days after former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman suggested to the group behind the ads that Vos should be recalled if he did not advance the articles.
The impeachment articles against elections Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe were first circulated by a group of Republican members of the Assembly on Sept. 21. Vos said at the time he instead preferred using a legislative process that allows a committee to hire a new administrator.
More:PolitiFact: Impeachment articles against Meagan Wolfe riddled with false and misleading claims
But within two days of a coordinated campaign to threaten him with being recalled or challenged through a primary challenge if he did not advance the impeachment articles, you assigned it to the Assembly Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight on Thursday.
A representative for Vos said “it was referred to a committee like any other bill.” A spokesperson for Wolfe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The move comes as the Wisconsin Election Committee, Inc. spent tens of thousands of dollars to run ads on Milwaukee-area TV and radio stations this week that falsely claim Wolfe implemented a number of policies decided by the agency’s panel of commissioners and should be removed .
The ads threaten to recall Vos or launch a primary challenge if he doesn’t move forward with articles of impeachment against Wolfe.
Leading the group is Adam Steen, who unsuccessfully launched a primary challenge against Vos in 2022, and Harry Wait, a Racine County man who was charged last year for fraudulently obtaining absentee ballots for Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason in order to show violations of the law are possible, according to documents filed with the Federal Communication Commission by the group.
Wait leads to a Racine County group known as HOT Government, which promotes false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
The ads were launched nine days after Gableman, who oversaw a fruitless probe of the 2020 election, met with a group tied to the ads. During the Oct. 24 meeting with the Sheboygan County Republican Party, Gableman suggested Vos could be recalled in January.
When asked by a group member what legal recourse Vos’ constituents have if he does not move forward with the impeachment articles, another group member shouted “Second Amendment,” referring to the constitutional right to possess firearms. The comment was met with laughter.
Gableman responded, “Our founders did give us the recall resource.”
“If they’re sent to Madison and it turns out they’re not doing what the electors who voted them in thought they would do — whether it’s Jan. 4, or Jan. 6, it’s coming right up,” Gableman said, referring to the date in January 2024 when Vos would be eligible to be recalled.
State law allows an elected official’s constituents to launch a recall effort after that official has been serving in his or her term for one year. The first week of January meets that requirement for Vos, who began a new term in the Assembly last January.
Vos’ decision to assign the articles of impeachment to a committee comes after he told WKOW-TV in an Oct. 5 interview that he would not take action on impeachment charges against Wolfe until the conclusion of a lawsuit filed against the GOP legislators who attempted to oust her.
“There’s no need to do an impeachment because she’s not there legally,” he said on the show “Capital City Sunday.”
You made those comments shortly after Senate President Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, urged him to move forward with impeachment proceedings.
All 15 impeachment articles contain misleading or false claims about how elections administration works in Wisconsin.
A Dane County judge issued an order last week temporarily blocking Republican legislators from removing or replacing Wolfe as the legal dispute over her appointment continues.
Attorneys for Vos, Kapenga and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu in a court filing last month admitted their effort so far to remove Wolfe was “symbolic,” that Wolfe is legally in her current position, and that lawmakers have no power to replace her, despite GOP leaders claiming the opposite in public statements.
You have indicated in public statements that he doesn’t agree with that concession.
“The law is very clear in saying that you have to have four votes to appoint somebody. If the person is not appointed, there’s a process in the law that says this is the exact way JCLO (will) appoint somebody,” Vos told reporters on Oct. 17.
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