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MADISON — A member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) says he and his fellow commissioners were kept in the dark about staff member communications with a left-leaning “safe elections” group.

Robert Spindell, one of three Republican representatives on the six-member commission, said WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe failed to mention that she not only knew about the National Vote at Home Institute’s involvement in Wisconsin elections, she asked if she could promote the organization’s work.

“I did raise the question (about the third-party group) and was told by Meagan we (WEC) had nothing to do with it. Since we had nothing to do with it, it didn’t come before the commission,” Spindell said.

But the agency did have something to do with it.

In new emails first published by Wisconsin Spotlight, Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg gushes to Wolfe about the work of Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein and the resources of his National Vote at Home Institute.

In an email sent on Aug. 28, Woodall-Vogg praises Spitzer-Rubenstein for helping her create “inputs and outputs to help us determine staffing needs and staffing responsibilities at Central Count based on actual quantitative data.”

“They will also be helping the Election Commission with our voter education communications around absentee voting and the messaging we will use,” the Milwaukee elections official wrote. She didn’t include the fact that Spitzer-Rubenstein once ran email campaigns for Democratic congressional campaigns, for instance.

In fact, Spitzer-Rubenstein has an impressive resume working for Democrats and liberal organizations. Emails obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight show he served as point man for Green Bay’s November election, and appears to have been heavily involved in the administration of Milwaukee’s November election.

Wolfe replied within minutes to Woodall-Vogg’s email.

“Thank you for sending along Claire. Would we be able to send your email to other large to medium-large jurisdictions to let them know about the resource and your experience? If other jurisdictions are interested, who should they reach out to at Vote at Home?” the state elections administrator wrote. Copied on the email are WEC Public Information Officer Reid Magney and Richard Rydecki, deputy administrator of the state Elections Commission.

Woodall-Vogg said Spitzer-Rubenstein was the guy, and she would be “happy to provide a reference.”

“They are extremely respectful of time, are not ‘selling’ anything, and have incredible resources,” the Milwaukee elections official wrote.

The Vote at Home Institute also is closely tied to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) the left-leaning hub for a network of left-leaning voting activist election groups. CTCL received hundreds of millions of dollars from CEO founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife ostensibly to “help” the largest cities in battleground states administer “safe and secure” elections during the pandemic.

CTCL handed out $6.3 million in election grants to Wisconsin’s five largest cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. The funding significantly increased local election budgets, by nearly five times Green Bay’s original budgeted amount.

Spindell said he was opposed to the outside groups injected into Wisconsin’s elections from the beginning. Now he’s wondering why WEC staff members were looking to promote them.

“Six election commissioners were kept in the dark on this and they shouldn’t have been,” Spindell said.

Perhaps the Elections commissioner will get some answers today, when Wolfe testifies before the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections. That informational hearing begins at 10 a.m. and will be broadcast on WisEye.org.

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