“I think it stems largely from a desire to find some other explanation for Donald Trump’s loss than that fewer people voted for him than Joe Biden,” said Ann S. Jacobs, one of the Democratic commissioners of the WEC, about the machinations to remove the election. Wolf. “She is the most important election official, she is the face of the conspiracy theories.”
The margin between Biden and Trump in Wisconsin in 2020 was extremely slim, and Republicans have been fixated on a handful of decisions that the WEC’s bipartisan, six-member board of commissioners approved, including how absentee voting was handled in nursing homes during the pandemic.
The disagreement is deepened as the leaders of the US House of Representatives appoint former Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman as “special counsel” to review the elections in the summer of 2021. Gableman embraced fringe conspiracy theories and targeted state and local election officials. He denounced grants from a non-profit organization funded by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg that went to polling stations across the state. In addition, he mocked Wolfe on personal terms by mocking her physical appearance.
Gableman was fired just over a year later after attacking Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, arguably the most powerful Republican in the state, with Vos saying Gableman “went off the rails.”
But some of the underlying attacks against Wolfe stuck.
“It is clear that enough legislators have fallen prey to false information about my work and the work of this agency, jeopardizing my role here,” Wolfe wrote in June in a letter to Wisconsin clerks.
Wolfe said at a committee meeting earlier this month to discuss how she would run for the Senate that she is in “a very difficult situation. … I feel like I’m going to end up in an absolutely impossible, untenable place either way. Wolfe said in a statement last week that she would not appear at the hearing on Tuesday.
A WEC spokesman declined to make Wolfe available for an interview. But her supporters say she has been unfairly targeted for pandemic-era decisions that only became a problem for Republicans after Trump lost.
Wolfe only implemented “bipartisan votes from the committee itself,” said Democratic state Senator Mark Spreitzer, who serves on the Senate Elections Committee. “Even if you disagree with the Commission’s decisions, I don’t think it’s fair to take this out on Meagan.”
Senator Dan Knodl, chairman of the committee that will hold the hearing on Tuesday, declined an interview request through a spokesperson.
Wolfe, who is widely respected among her election organizing colleagues, has the support of bipartisan election officials from Wisconsin. Election secretaries are expected to support her on Tuesday, and bipartisan WEC commissioners have said Wolfe should remain in her role.
“She’s qualified, she’s carried out the committee’s dictates, and frankly, I don’t think we’re going to find anyone else who would take the job and who would be qualified,” said WEC Chairman Don Millis, a Republican the Commission has been appointed to the committee. Fox. “It is a very difficult position, it is under fire. I feel sorry for her for all she has to go through.”
But the battle over Wolfe’s service as the state’s top election official appears to be going to court — with state Democrats claiming that legislative Republicans don’t have the authority to vote to evict her.
That’s because Wolfe was never officially nominated for the role in the first place. Democratic WEC commissioners strategically abstained, fearing that Senate Republicans would vote to impeach her if her nomination came before the full House.
Willis, the committee’s Republican chairman, said that while he supports Wolfe, he believes the Democrats on the committee made a grave mistake by not officially voting to approve her nomination — sparking the battle over her role could worsen. “I think the members of the Senate thought it was an insult,” he said.
In a letter to the Senate last week, Democratic Attorney General Joshua Kaul argued that the Senate had no voting power over Wolfe’s nomination.
“This is not a tough question under state law,” he wrote, arguing that the committee had not officially nominated her for another term. As long as Wolfe is a “transferring appointee,” he continued, she can stay in this job.
Wolfe is “legally allowed to continue in office after the expiration” of her term, Kaul argued — citing a recent decision by the state Supreme Court in which a Republican appointee was allowed to continue in office after the expiration of his term on a state board.
Should Senate Republicans go ahead with Wolfe’s vote, Spreitzer, the Democratic state senator, said it will almost certainly go to court.
“If the Republicans go that far and push that vote through, we will end up in court,” he said. “And who sues whom first, I have no idea.”