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Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan nonprofit political watchdog group now in it's third decade of working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689, 608-255-4260

Don’t Expand Gableman’s Role

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 21 January 2022
in Wisconsin

michael-gableman-we-the-poepleMatt Rothschild makes statement to the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections opposing the motion to enlarge the scope of the special counsel's role.


MADISON - I’m Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Since 1995, we’ve been tracking and exposing the money in Wisconsin politics and advocating for a broad range of pro-democracy reforms.

We strongly object to this motion to enlarge the scope of the special counsel’s role for the following eight reasons.

Problem #1: This motion violates the separation of powers by giving the special counsel prosecutorial powers.

It would allow Gableman to interview citizens in private, behind closed doors with no legislative oversight. There is no statute or rule that allows for this type of private, quasi-deposition and secretive process, and the people of Wisconsin rightfully expect transparency in their lawmaking and from their legislature. The legislature is not supposed to be in the prosecution business. That role properly resides in the executive branch.

Problem #2: The special counsel has a preconceived bias that makes him unsuited for this job.

Just days after the election, Michael Gableman, at a partisan Republican rally, said: "Our elected leaders — your elected leaders — have allowed unelected bureaucrats at the Wisconsin Elections Commission to steal our vote.” Someone who has made such a slanderous accusation and has demonstrated such a preconceived bias should not be in charge of the investigation. The accuser should not become the prosecutor.

Problem #3: Staff members of the special counsel have the same preconceived bias that disqualifies them from their jobs and that reinforces the disqualifying bias of the special counsel.

Gableman’s chief of staff, Andrew Kloster, also has said that the election was stolen. What’s more, he said in April that conservatives need their own “irate hooligans” like the Proud Boys and “our own captured DA offices to let our boys off the hook.” This is an incitement to rightwing vigilante violence and to corrupt enforcement of the law! Other staff members are similarly biased. One of his investigators, Ron Heuer, is the president of the Wisconsin Voters Alliance, which unsuccessfully sued to prevent the Wisconsin Elections Commission from certifying the election and sought instead to have the Republican-controlled Legislature pick the representatives Wisconsin sent to the Electoral College. These partisan biases could not be more glaring or more disqualifying.

Problem #4: The special counsel has shown that he does not have the background or skills necessary for this job.

The special counsel admitted in public that he doesn’t have “any understanding of how elections work.” So why he is in charge? He also has shown extraordinary sloppiness in the way he’s been doing his job. Example 1: He subpoenaed Dominion voting machines from Madison and Green Bay when neither Madison nor Green Bay uses Dominion voting machines. Example 2: He asked Green Bay and Madison for all information about voters held by their computer systems, but that could include information like birth dates, driver’s license numbers, and addresses. Voters have an expectation that their personal information will not be treated with such callousness.

Problem #5: The special counsel does not have the proper temperament for this job.

The special counsel interrupted and berated members of this very Committee in previous “public” hearings in a way that no witness in memory has gotten away with. Also at one of these hearings, the special counsel, by name, accused one of the most senior Capitol reporters in our state as being an “activist.” And the special counsel also said that State Senator Kathy Bernier, chair of the Senate Committee on Elections, should resign. Such outbursts reveal a serious character flaw that should disqualify Gableman from this office.

Problem #6: The special counsel is squandering the public’s resources with no endpoint in sight.

The office of the special counsel has already cost the taxpayers of Wisconsin $676,000. The boundless motion to expand his role would keep the meter running overtime. It’s the very definition of a blank check. Speaker Vos, who originally appointed Gableman, said that the special counsel should wrap up his work last October, and then the Speaker extended that to the end of the last year, and then to the end of this January, and then to the end of February. And now the Committee’s motion would extend it even further, with no end in sight. This constant shifting of the goalposts does a disservice to the public, and to the public’s wallet.

Problem #7: The special counsel is serving not the public interest but a narrow partisan interest.

The November 2020 elections are now more than 14 months old. Donald Trump went 0-60 in the courts, including 0-3 at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He demanded a recount in Dane County and Milwaukee County, and the recount found the same result. The Legislative Audit Bureau examined our elections, and according to Sen. Rob Cowles, co-chair of the Legislative Audit Committee, the audit showed that our elections are “safe and secure.” Even the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty found that there was no widespread fraud. Sen. Bernier has denounced the endless beating of this dead horse as a “charade.” And yet it continues. Not in search of the truth, but for other reasons:

  • to provide some post-facto justification for the Big Lie that spills out of Donald Trump’s mouth right after he says good morning
  • to back up the regurgitation of that lie by the likes of Michael Gableman and others
  • to feed rancid red meat to the zealous base of the Trump wing of the Republican Party
  • and to keep that base agitated through the elections of 2022 and 2024.

Our tax dollars should not be squandered for such hyper-partisan purposes.

Problem #8: The special counsel’s ceaseless casting of aspersions about the legitimacy of the November 2020 elections undermines the people’s faith in our democracy.

matt-rothschild-2018There has been an unprecedented attempt, nationwide and here in Wisconsin, by the Trumpite wing of the Republican Party to sabotage our American way of political life. Never before have we seen a President not vow to have a peaceful transition of power. Never before have we seen anything like the Jan. 6 coup attempt. And still people like Michael Gableman claim that the election was “rigged.” These are like parents at a high school game screaming at the refs in the parking lot more than a year after the game ended. It would be pathetic if it weren’t so dangerous to our democracy and our freedom to vote.

Thank you for considering my views.

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Wisconsin’s January 6 Collaborators

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 07 January 2022
in Wisconsin

andre-jacqueMatt Rothschild of the Democracy Campaign exposes Republican activists and elected officials who schemed to subvert the Electoral College vote or who have continued to perpetuate the Big Lie.


MADISON - Here in Wisconsin, we’ve had our own collaborators in the Jan. 6 coup attempt by far right Trumpites.

I’m not even referring to the six Wisconsinites who were charged with crimes in the U.S. Capitol that day.

matt-rothschild-2018I’m referring, instead, to Republican activists and elected officials who schemed to subvert the Electoral College vote or who have continued to perpetuate the Big Lie and thereby sabotage the people’s faith in our elections to this day.

First, in December of 2020, a group of 10 Republicans took it upon themselves to “certify” that Trump had won the election here and they pretended to be Wisconsin’s electors to the Electoral College. Here is the list of these false and fraudulent “electors”: Carol Brunner, Mary Buestrin, Darryl Carson, Bill Feehan, Scott Grabins, Andrew Hitt, Kathy Kiernen, Kelly Ruh, Robert Spindell, and Pam Travis. (One of these, Robert Spindell, is actually on the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which received a legal complaint last February from Law Forward to investigate all of these false electors, including Spindell.)

Then on Jan. 5, 2021, of all days, 15 Republican state legislators from Wisconsin (along with Republican legislators from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania) signed a letter to Vice President Pence urging him to delay the counting of electoral votes for at least 10 days and allow the legislatures in these state time to decertify the electors who were sent to the Electoral College and to certify their own slates. (This was part of the plot that the Eastman memo had outlined for Trump.)

The Wisconsin legislators who signed this letter were:

Sen. André Jacque (R-DePere) and Reps. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), Rick Gundrum (R-Slinger), Robert Brooks (R-Saukville), Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago), Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), Gae Magnafici (R-Dresser), Dave Murphy (R-Greenville), Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz) Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Berlin), Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), Tim Ramthun (R-Campbellsport), Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers), Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego). (Note that Rep. Brandtjen is the chair of the Assembly Committee on Elections, where she has been holding one biased hearing after another to air her conspiracy theories.)

None of these elected officials, nor any of the false electors, has had to account for their disgraceful role in this sinister plot.

Since Jan. 6, 2021, we’ve continued to see denialism about Biden’s legitimacy (Rep. Ramthun introduced a resolution in November to retroactively decertify Wisconsin’s electors to the Electoral College), denialism about the subversion on Jan. 6 (see Ron Johnson), the introduction of anti-voter bills, and an all-out assault on the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Here are the goals of these anti-American efforts.

First, to keep feeding rancid red meat to the enraged Trumpite base so they will turn out in huge numbers in 2022 and 2024.

Second, to enact laws that will make it harder for people to vote, especially people who lean Democratic.

And third, to sully the reputation of the Wisconsin Elections Commission so badly that partisan Republican officials in the Legislature can destroy it and hand over the administration – and more dangerous still, the certification – of our elections to the Legislature itself or to a particular partisan official the Legislature appoints. In this way, Republican partisans could overturn the will of the people and decide, by fiat, who won the election, regardless of the actual vote count.

That’s what the Gableman fishing expedition is all about.

That’s what the wild accusations from the sheriff of Racine County, Christopher Schmaling (who was the featured speaker at a Women for Trump rally during the 2020 campaign here), are all about. Schmaling got into the act by saying that five of the six commissioners of the Wisconsin Elections Commission should be prosecuted for sending absentee ballots to people in nursing homes when Special Voting Deputies weren’t able to get in there.

This constant drumbeat of propaganda, amplified on rightwing talk radio, has infected much of the Republican Party, with 64% of Republicans in Wisconsin doubting the validity of last November’s election, according to a Marquette Law School poll late last year.

Many Republican officials, with the notable exception of Sen. Kathy Bernier, have been afraid to speak up and tell the truth, for fear that their base – or their party leaders – will punish them for it.

So they’ve created a monster here, and the monster is out of control, and it’s threatening to gobble up the Wisconsin Elections Commission and trample all over our precious ideal of fair elections in Wisconsin.

This is the legacy of Jan. 6 in Wisconsin. And it’s not pretty.

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Wis Republican Floats Way to Nullify Elections

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 05 January 2022
in Wisconsin

trump-jan6-attackDemocracy Campaign's Matt Rothschild comments on the current anti-democracy madness in Wisconsin.


MADISON - In the waning hours of 2021, a Republican legislator in Wisconsin named Timothy Ramthun wasn’t chilling champagne or relaxing with his family.

No, he was still scheming to subvert our democracy.

Ramthun, who in November introduced a resolution to rescind Wisconsin’s Electoral Colleges votes that were certified on Jan. 6, introduced a bill on Dec. 30 that would permit the nullification of an election and the mandating of a do-over 30 days later in some circumstances.

Those circumstances include where the total number of absentee ballots exceeds the margin of victory, which, under his bill, would necessitate a forensic audit. (In the November 2020 elections, almost 2 million Wisconsinites voted by absentee ballot, and Biden won by about 21,000 votes.)

After such an audit, if the Wisconsin Elections Commission or the Attorney General or a district attorney “having jurisdiction over the matter determines that a violation of the laws relating to election threats, bribery, or fraud occurred,” then the election is null and void.

This is way off the charts. There’s no precedent for nullifying elections in Wisconsin.

And note that Ramthun has totally aced out the judiciary, which up to now has had the authority to resolve election disputes.

Ramthun sidelines the judges and would conveniently hand power over to partisan officials.

This is an assault not only on our right to vote but on the separation of powers and our very system of checks and balances.

The anti-democracy madness in Wisconsin has got to stop!

Audio Commentary

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Wis Democracy Campaign - Give a Gift to Defend Democracy!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 25 December 2021
in Wisconsin

capitol-xmas-treeMADISON - I’m urging you to give a gift this holiday season to defend our democracy.

You know it’s under attack by a militant, white nationalist, and cultish anti-democracy movement.

Here at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, we’re doing all we can to call out this threat at the national level and especially right here in our state.

We’ve helped lead the way in the battle against gerrymandering. 

We blew the whistle on the anti-voting bills that were introduced.

We’ve been denouncing the Gableman fishing expedition at the top of our lungs.

And we even produced radio ads that ran all across the state to puncture the Big Lie. (One of the ads featured Milwaukee Bucks stars Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez!)

But we can’t keep doing this work without your support.

So, while you’re finishing up your holiday shopping, please send us a donation today so we can redouble our efforts to defend our democracy.

matt-rothschild-2018Giving us simple: Just click here.

Or you can send us a gift the old-fashioned way. Write your check and mail it to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign at 203 S. Paterson St., Suite 100, Madison WI 53703.

I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for your support!

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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P.S. Your donation is tax-deductible when you itemize.

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Wis Democracy Campaign - A Sinister Scheme

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 19 December 2021
in Wisconsin

trump-jan6-qanon-shamanMADISON - I’m increasingly worried about the state of our democracy in Wisconsin.

All the propaganda about the 2020 elections is serving a sinister purpose, as I explain here:

The Scheme to Sabotage Our Vote in Wisconsin

Please write a letter to the editor of your local paper on this. And I’d be happy to edit it if you’d like. Just email me directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

I’d also like to urge you to include the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign on your holiday gift list.

You know how doggedly we’ve been defending democracy here in Wisconsin: on the gerrymandering front, on these anti-voter schemes, on the threat from big and dark money in our politics, and on many other issues, including racism and economic inequality.

So I hope you’ll help us out with a donation (tax-deductible when you itemize) so we can push even harder on these issues in the year ahead.

Thanks for your support, and thanks for defending our democracy!

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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