Madison, Wis. — A group formed to support former President Donald Trump’s agenda is working with Wisconsin Republicans on a ballot measure that would leave the state’s Democratic governor to change how battlefield elections are run.
The effort represents a new escalation in the ongoing Republican campaign to change voting laws in response to Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. It comes as Wisconsin becomes the epicenter of this year’s voting wars, with Republicans trying to dismantle the election system they’d established themselves several years ago — and finding that the Democratic governor’s office is just now. Also how to do this.
Tony Evers’ support for a possible route around was revealed during a private meeting on elections organized by the US Legislative Exchange Council, which advocates for conservative policies to state lawmakers in voting and other areas. Trump’s former White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told attendees that his new organization, the Center for Election Integrity, was working with elected officials and business leaders in Wisconsin to “figure out the best route” around Evers. , who has said he would block the GOP-backed. election methods
“We think there’s nothing the governor can do about it and it will become law,” Gidley said in a recording of the session made by an attendee and obtained by The Associated Press.
The strategy is similar to the strategy already underway in Michigan. The state’s Republicans are already gathering signatures on the ballot for a measure that would tighten that state’s voting laws, in an attempt to get Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of a similar bill that would force a GOP-controlled state. passed the legislature. But Gidley’s statement is the first sign of a Trump-bound group engaged in a similar strategy in Wisconsin.
Reached for comment, Gidley initially said he would provide more details about his work in Wisconsin, but did not respond to further requests for comment.
Bill McCoshen, the head of the policy board of a conservative group called Common Sense Wisconsin, said he met with Gidley in Milwaukee six weeks ago to discuss getting election proposals on the ballot.
“I think he thought it was a good idea,” McCoshen said. “They haven’t made any commitments to us one way or another.”
McCoshen’s proposal would require elections in Wisconsin to be run the same way; Early voting hours and days must be the same in every community, and some will have to change how they count absentee ballots. The measure is largely seen as an attempt to force the state to restrict access to democratic cities.
The proposal would also prevent private groups from making large donations in the state’s heavily democratic cities.
Wisconsin Republicans are angered last year by more than $10 million in election grants awarded to more than 200 municipalities, the bulk of it going to the state’s five largest cities, all of which are Democratic strongholds. The money came from $350 million in election donations to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, which has sparked deep conservative skepticism.
Under the amendment, such money would have to be shared by all municipalities in the state.
The changes require amendments to the state’s constitution, a process that takes at least two years because the legislature has to pass it in two consecutive sessions. No amendment has yet been introduced in the Rajya Sabha to do so.
After Trump’s narrow loss to Wisconsin last year, the state was fueled by a Republican attack on the bipartisan Election Commission, which the GOP-controlled legislature had created six years earlier.
Gidley’s group is part of the America First Policy Institute, an organization created during the Trump administration to promote the former president and his policies.
The three-hour session where Gidley spoke on Wednesday took place during the Conservative Council’s State and National Policy Summit in San Diego, California.
The session reflects how election issues have come to the center of the GOP’s agenda as Trump falsely accused his 2020 losses of fraud. Repeated audits, investigations and lawsuits — including Trump’s own Justice Department — revealed no significant fraud in the presidential election. But that hasn’t stopped Republican state legislatures from rolling out new laws that put new limits on mass voting.
During the session, participants heard from Cleta Mitchell, a prominent conservative attorney who advised the former president earlier this year as she pressured Georgia Republicans to declare her the winner of state President Joe Biden. Addressing the group was Arizona Senate President Karen Fan, who approved a review of the election in that state’s largest county, which had pursued a variety of conspiracy theories. She could not prove any fraud in Biden’s victory there.
Gidley praised the Arizona review. “Arizona has done a great job with its audit,” he told the group.