MADISON — Green Bay city officials insist a former Democratic operative did not have access to absentee ballots leading up to and through the November presidential election.
The emails, official contracts, photos and other documents tell a different story.
Several emails obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight show Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, Wisconsin State lead for the National Vote at Home Institute, at several points had contact with and direction over absentee ballots.
The National Vote at Home Institute, was one of several private, left-leaning groups, funded largely by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Spitzer-Rubenstein, with an impressive political resume working for Democratic politicians and campaigns, had significant influence over the administration of the presidential election in Green Bay and, it appears, in Milwaukee. The Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from Zuckerberg and his wife, money they pumped out in big grants to to cities in the name of “safe elections.”
Spitzer-Rubenstein became the point man for Election Day.
“Are the ballots going to be in trays/boxes within the bin? I’m at KI now, trying to figure out whether we’ll need to move the bins throughout the day or if we can just stick them along the wall and use trays or something similar to move the ballots between stations,” Spitzer-Rubenstein wrote to city officials two days before the election.
Here’s that email.
The KI Convention Center at Green Bay’s Hyatt Regency was where the election team decided to locate the city’s Central Count and where the absentee ballots were stored, late in the game. Central Count originally was to be at city hall, but space limitations and COVID-19 concerns forced the move to the convention center.
Spitzer-Rubenstein, was given access to the room where the absentee ballots were stored. A Hyatt Regency checklist instructed staff, “DO NOT UNLOCK GRAND BALLROOM UNTIL Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein IS WITH SECURITY WHEN UNLOCKING THE GRAND BALLROOM DOORS.”
Here’s that document.
An Election Day operations plan shows Spitzer-Rubenstein in charge of several areas at Central Count — the portable dropbox, printer, a list of assignments and training materials, among other duties. It also appears to show that he was in charge of supervision and check-in.
Here’s that document.
Spitzer-Rubenstein created the ballot tracking sheets and and other election materials for the city.
Here’s that email.
But Green city officials say there’s nothing to see here.
“The election was administered exclusively by city staff,” a city of Green Bay statement said. “No ballots were ever in the care or custody of these consultants.”
State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), vice chair of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, has seen the emails and heard the testimony. This is what Sanfelippo had to say about Green Bay’s assertions.
“They’re complete lies. This isn’t just people coming in and testifying. This is black and white documentation,” the lawmaker said. “It proves that they’re way wrong. We have emails that show they gave this guy all four keys to Central Count and instructions saying that no one gets in to the room where the ballots are without this guy.”
And then there are the photos obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight. They show Spitzer-Rubenstein at Central Count. One photo shows the non-city official at a desk with a laptop and a printer inside the counting line. Another shows him talking to Green Bay elections officials.
Observers at the election testified Spitzer-Rubenstein had plenty of access and contact with the ballots. They watched as he moved about Central Count, leading election operations.
State Rep. Dave Murphy (R-Greenville), a member of the elections committee, said sworn affidavits by the observers contradict the city of Green Bay’s claims.
“While a denial in a press release may get headlines, we won’t know what really happened until we hear from the mayor and the other individuals involved under oath. Until then, I’ll trust the actual evidence and sworn affidavits that have been provided to the legislature,” he said. “ (Green Bay) Mayor (Eric) Genrich owes the public an honest and detailed explanation about his actions in the election on the official record. If the mayor is unwilling to do that, he needs to resign.”