MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Republican attempt to impeach Wisconsin’s nonpartisan top elections official is nothing more than “a big show for the cameras” and will be ignored, the Assembly’s GOP majority leader said Thursday.
Several Republican lawmakers, including the state Senate president, have called for Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe to be impeached over her handling of the 2020 election won by President Joe Biden. The Senate voted in October to fire Wolfe but later admitted that the vote was symbolic and had no legal effect.
In the Assembly, state Rep. Janel Brandtjen has introduced a resolution to impeach Wolfe. As of Thursday, it had just five co-sponsors in addition to Brandtjen. It would require 50 votes to pass.
Brandtjen tried in vain on Tuesday to be recognized to speak in an attempt to get a vote on her proposal. Brandtjen, who has endorsed discredited conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, accused Republican leaders of being “Administrator Wolfe’s PR team.”
During a news conference before Thursday’s session, Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August said Brandtjen’s proposal would not be voted on because it doesn’t have enough support to get out of committee or be approved by a majority of the Assembly.
“We have a process that has been utilized in this building for decades of how to bring a bill or a resolution to the floor,” August said. “And that’s the process that we’ll continue to use.”
August said if Brandtjen has enough support to bring the measure forward for a vote, she can.
“But the fact is she doesn’t,” August said. “Our caucus is focused on real things, not grifting and not making a big show for the cameras. And that’s all she’s interested in doing.”
Even as the impeachment effort stalls, Republicans have called for Wolfe to be replaced. But she has said she will remain in her post at least through the November election.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is being targeted for recall by supporters of former President Donald Trump, in part over his opposition to the Wolfe impeachment. Trump in November posted a news release on his social media platform Truth Social from Brandtjen criticizing Vos for not doing more to remove Wolfe.
The Assembly can only vote to impeach state officials for corrupt conduct in office or for committing a crime or misdemeanor. If a majority of the Assembly were to vote to impeach, the case would move to a Senate trial in which a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction.
Although Wolfe is the administrator of elections, it is the more than 1,800 local clerks who actually run elections in the presidential battleground state. The commission she oversees is run by a bipartisan board with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.
Brandtjen and others who support impeaching Wolfe had pushed for decertification of Biden’s 2020 win. Biden defeated Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, an outcome that has withstood two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, a conservative law firm’s review and multiple state and federal lawsuits.
Scott Bauer, The Associated Press