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A conflict of election ‘experts’

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — The chair of the Assembly committee investigating the 2020 presidential election blasted what she and some of her colleagues see as nothing more than a dog and pony show to try to whitewash growing concerns about how the election was handled.

State. Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) joined Reps. Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport), Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego), and Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) in a press release taking aim at the “fallacy” of the so-called “Growing Threats to Elections Professionals” news conference last week hosted by state Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls).

Bernier and national “election experts’ criticized former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s separate investigation into reports of election irregularities and violations of election law. Bernier accused her Republican colleagues of playing political games, calling the concerns they’ve raised a “charade.”

An extensive audit by the Legislative Audit Bureau found several instances in which the Wisconsin Elections Commission and local elections officials incorrectly interpreted or outright broke the law. Documents obtained in open records requests show liberal voting activist groups funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg were embedded in the election offices of Wisconsin’s five largest cities, all Democratic strongholds. And those cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine — received the lion’s share of the Zuckerberg-funded grants to administer elections.

And the same groups that infiltrated Wisconsin’s elections are run by the “election experts” brought in to defend the Elections Commission and the “WI-5” cities at last week’s news conference.

“Senator Bernier announced the Election Official Legal Defense Network (EOLDN) would be providing free legal defense attorneys for election officials. This effort is funded by a non-profit organization called the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR). We question the ethics and legality of clerks receiving pro-bono assistance from non-profits,” Brandtjen and the other lawmakers said.

As they note, of the $300 million Zuckerberg and his wife donated ostensibly for “safe and secure” elections in 2020, $250 million went to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), and the remaining $50 million went to CEIR. The group later received another $19.5 million from Zuckerberg.

CEIR founder David Becker, who claimed there was no election fraud in Wisconsin, was the subject of a 2005 ethics complaint. He served as senior staff attorney of the left-wing People for the American Way in 2006, and became director of their campaign in 2007. Becker also was  director of election initiatives at PEW Charitable Trusts and created the Electronic Registration and Information Center (ERIC), a national computer voter registration system which currently shares voting data in 30 states, including Wisconsin.

“We find it interesting and most concerning that this individual, who happens to be the founder of the ERIC system and the CEIR, would need to create EOLDN to offer pro-bono attorneys to defend election officials,” the lawmakers said.

They note that Kevin Kennedy serves on CEIR’s board of directors. Kennedy, the disgraced former director of Wisconsin’s now-defunct Government Accountability Board, partnered with Democrat Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm in the infamous “John Doe II” investigation. The secret, unconstitutional probe targeted conservative groups. Agents conducted illegal armed raids on homes and spying operations on the left’s political enemies.

“It appears the press conference panel’s answer for those who question the integrity of an election influenced by Zuckerberg money, is to bring in more Zuckerberg money from CEIR and EOLDN to protect those who took Zuckerberg money from the CTCL,” Brandtjen, Ramthun, Wichgers and Allen wrote in the release.

Bernier and the well-heeled election activists at last week’s press conference said the Assembly and Gableman should close their investigations. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) countered that the probe will go on. Vos said the investigation has to be extended in part because liberal city officials in Madison and Green Bay have repeatedly defied Gableman’s subpoenas seeking information.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined how far liberals and Democrats would go to try to hide the truth,” Vos said. “They have fought us to be able to issue subpoenas, Attorney General Kaul has now gone to court saying we don’t have the right to issue legislative subpoenas in the process that we’re doing.”

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