Wisconsin Republicans Throw Election Integrity Firebrand Out of Party Caucus

Wisconsin Republicans Throw Election Integrity Firebrand Out of Party Caucus
The Wisconsin State Capitol, which houses both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor, in Madison. (Carol M. Highsmith via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)
Steven Kovac
11/16/2022
Updated:
11/25/2022
0:00

With just three short sentences, the Republican majority caucus of the Wisconsin State Assembly banned the election integrity advocate, Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), from taking part in their party meetings.

In a Nov. 11 letter to Brandtjen signed by Majority Caucus Chairman Rep. Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer), the Republican leader wrote: “The members voted to no longer allow you to participate in closed caucus.

“The continual issues from the past have led our caucus to lose trust in you. For this reason, the vote was taken.”

When contacted by The Epoch Times for a further explanation, Summerfield’s office declined to comment.

In a legislative body, a caucus is the sum of the elected members of a particular political party.

The respective groups often meet privately in caucus to plan legislative strategies, hand out committee assignments, and elect their leaders.

Wisconsin Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen. (Courtesy of Janel Brandtjen)
Wisconsin Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen. (Courtesy of Janel Brandtjen)

Brandtjen made her banishment public in a Nov. 16 press release.

“A short, three-sentence letter was delivered to my office stating I was being barred from participating in future closed caucuses.

“There was no specification as to what these ‘continual issues’ were. I am assuming this is in regard to my role as chairperson of the Committee on Campaigns and Elections and my continuing work to strengthen voting integrity in Wisconsin,” she wrote.

Brandtjen stated that the Republican leadership hadn’t discussed the ban with her prior to her receiving the letter.

She said that her removal from the caucus wouldn’t stop “the ongoing issues that plague our state, but it does prove that many members of the caucus are willing to ignore their constituents in order to stay in good standing with caucus leadership and keep their committee chairmanships.”

Brandtjen vowed to represent the people of her district and continue to address the issues that are important to them, including election integrity.

One of the recent election integrity problems outlined in her statement is the repeated denial of lawful open records requests by the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the Legislative Council, a practice Brandtjen has publicly criticized.

She also put herself at odds with the state elections establishment by drawing public attention to the work of citizen watchdog groups and whistleblowers.

In a recent instance, a citizen activist demonstrated the vulnerability of the WisVote system by requesting and receiving absentee ballots with what Brandtjen describes as “zero protections against fraud.”

The ballots were successfully applied for online by parties other than the voter and were directed to be sent to addresses that had no connection with the person requesting them.

And days before the midterm election, another whistleblower requested three military ballots under fictitious names and had them sent to Brandtjen’s residence in order to expose the vulnerability to fraud of the military vote mail-in system in Wisconsin.

Brandtjen was part of an unsuccessful effort to have a court sequester the military ballots so they could be properly verified before the votes were counted.

That whistleblower was fired from a high position with the Milwaukee County clerk’s office for her actions.

“The GOP leadership went behind her back to prohibit her from their company to punish her for her candor with the people of Wisconsin,” Michael Gableman, the former special counsel to the state assembly on election integrity, told The Epoch Times

Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, added, “They also did it in order to retaliate against her for her unwillingness to join them in their blind and obsequious subservience to Speaker Robin Vos.”

Vos did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Steven Kovac reports for The Epoch Times from Michigan. He is a general news reporter who has covered topics related to rising consumer prices to election security issues. He can be reached at [email protected]