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Milwaukee election official faces charges

By By M.D. Kittle

Spotlight Wisconsin | Nov. 4, 2022

MADISON — State Rep. Janel Brandtjen says there needs to be an investigation
into Milwaukee’s latest election scandal and that a legislative “subpoena is in

Mayor Cavalier Johnson held a hastily called press conference Thursday morning,
announcing that Milwaukee Election Commission Deputy Administrator Kimberly
Zapata had been fired for allegedly requesting absentee ballots meant for
members of the military and having them sent to Brandtjen’s home.

“This has every appearance of being an egregious and blatant violation of trust,”
Johnson said. “Election integrity is absolutely integral. It’s absolutely essential.”
It’s apparently so “egregious and blatant” that highly partisan Democrat District
Attorney John Chisholm’s office was weighing filing charges — prosecutorial
action it typically reserves for Republicans.

The charges would include malfeasance in office, a felony, and illegally requesting
a ballot, a misdemeanor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Chisholm said prosecutors “expect charges to be filed in the coming days.”
Milwaukee’s latest election scandal follows Monday’s announcement by the
Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department that it had opened an investigation after
Brandtjen reported she had received three absentee ballots reserved for members
of the military.

The incident was similar to one involving a Racine County man who used
Wisconsin’s state election website to request absentee ballots be sent to
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Racine Mayor Cory Mason.
Harry Wait, of the Racine County-based citizen action group H.O.T. (Honest,
Open, Transparent) Government, is facing two counts of election fraud and two
counts of unauthorized use of an individual’s personal i÷dentifying information.

Wait has said he was trying to expose the integrity flaws in MyVote, the Wisconsin
Election Commission’s online election management tool.

That’s what Milwaukee Election Commission Administrator Claire Woodall-Vogg
suggests happened in the case of her No. 2, Zapata.

“It’s my belief that she was pointing out that you can go onto the public system,
make up a person and request a ballot,” Woodall-Vogg told the newspaper, adding
that city officials’ understanding is that she sent it to Brandtjen to alert her to the
system’s vulnerability.

Not everyone is convinced of that explanation.

“I think a subpoena is in order,” said Brandtjen, who chairs the Assembly
Campaign and Elections Committee that has been investigating election integrity
complaints for the better part of two years. Milwaukee refused to comply with
previous subpoenas following Democrat Gov. Tony Evers advice to “lawyer up.”
The city’s election officials were ultimately saved when Assembly Speaker Robin
Vos ended an outside probe.

Zapata was named deputy administrator earlier this year. She’s been with the
city’s election agency for seven years, with no previous issues, according to

Zapata, however, works for a city and an administrator that have been the source
of plenty of election integrity alarm bells. Recently, Brandtjen’s committee
obtained emails and text messages showing the city and its Election Commission
administrator working with long-time Democratic Party operatives and far left
groups in a got-out-the-vote effort targeting traditionally Democrat voters.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Brandtjen said unlike Milwaukee’s
mayor, she has been working on providing Wisconsin voters a safe and secure
election process.

“We have uncovered so many issues that demand attention,” the Menomonee
Falls Republican said. “I have been attacked by the liberal media, democrats who
benefit from the system, and republicans who don’t have the backbone to take on
the issues, including Speaker Vos, who has referred to me as a conspiracy
theorist. All of the while, we have uncovered massive amounts of election
disparities and a statewide Election Commission that has undeniably broken the
law on numerous occasions. It’s time we do the people’s business, and that
includes the media and both parties taking part.”

Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said she
was “stunned and deeply disappointed” by reports the Milwaukee election official
“violated election law, and undermined the trust of the public, of members of our
armed forces, and of her fellow election workers.”

“This violation of trust cuts to the heart of election integrity, something that the
Wisconsin Elections Commission and local election officials hold in the most
serious regard,” she said. “While the actions of this individual set us all back in our

efforts to show Wisconsinites that our elections are run with integrity, I have every
confidence the upcoming election will be fair and accurate.”

WEC, particularly Wolfe, has been at the center of a long line of election integrity
concerns over the past two-plus years.

Chad Moran, communications director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said
the vulnerabilities that continue to be exposed in the MyVote system for requesting
absentee ballots “should be shocking to everyone.”

“We remain very concerned that these vulnerabilities exist and that the
(Wisconsin) Elections Commission is not taking the proper steps to mitigate the
risks,” he said.

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