Controversial Wisconsin elections chief Meagan Wolfe’s nomination for another term was soundly rejected by the State Senate, yet she remains on the job.
Embattled Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) administrator Meagan Wolfe is proving “harder to remove from office than bubblegum is from the sole of a shoe,” one Republican observer said.
On Sept.14, the state Senate, voted along party lines, 22–10, to reject her nomination to a second four-year term.
One Democrat senator did not vote on that motion.
At a press conference following the vote, a defiant Ms. Wolfe let it be known that she wasn’t going anywhere.
“I will not bend to political pressure,” she said.
She stated she intended to remain in the position until the courts, or a majority of the WEC’s six members, order her to leave.
The Senate action came two-and-a-half months after her term expired at midnight on June 30.
As a motion to reject Ms. Wolfe’s reappointment was brought to the floor, Sen. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) raised a point of order contending, as he has for months, that because four members of the WEC had not voted to reappoint her as required by law, there was no appointment for the Senate to act on and Ms. Wolfe was legally entitled to stay on the job.
Mr. Beloit has said all along that, in Wisconsin, “an expired term does not create a vacancy.”
Democrat Attorney General Josh Kaul agrees with him and has announced the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice will soon ask a judge for a declaratory judgment to that effect.
In June, the WEC’s six members deadlocked three to three over the appointment and were therefore unable to move Ms. Wolfe’s nomination to the Senate for confirmation—or so they thought.
Ironically, after all six WEC members expressed admiration and support for Ms. Wolfe and her job performance, only the three Republicans on the commission voted for her nomination.
The three Democrat commissioners abstained. They said it was to protect Ms. Wolfe from certain rejection by the Senate.
To counter the Democrats’ parliamentary strategy, the Republican supermajority in the legislature promptly rammed through a resolution that brought the Wolfe nomination to a public committee hearing followed by a committee vote, and finally to the full Senate for its advice and consent on Sept. 14.
When Mr. Spreitzer’s point of order was defeated on a voice vote, he quickly appealed from the ruling of the chair. His appeal was defeated by a roll call vote, which proved a bell weather for how the two parties would vote on the two remaining orders of business surrounding Ms. Wolfe’s nomination.
After the 22–11 rejection of Mr. Spreitzer’s appeal was announced, the presiding officer declared Ms. Wolfe’s appointment to be “in fact, properly before the Senate,” and the proceedings continued.
A Stinging Resolution
The final parliamentary blow of the day to Ms. Wolfe was delivered in the form of a resolution offered by Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg).
Mr. LeMahieu’s resolution affirmed that, pursuant to law, Ms. Wolfe’s term officially ended on July 1, 2023, and that it was the WEC’s “nondiscretionary statutory duty to appoint or reappoint an administrator at the expiration of the incumbent’s term.”
The resolution stated that the WEC’s failure to do so constitutes a “dereliction” of its nondiscretionary statutory duty and that its nonfeasance deprived the Senate of “its statutorily granted role of advice and consent.”
The resolution concluded, “Whereas the senate has no confidence in Meagan Wolfe as administrator and has voted to reject her nomination; now, therefore be it resolved that the Wisconsin State Senate calls on the Wisconsin Election Commission to fulfill its nondiscretionary statutory duty to appoint an interim administrator and to submit a nomination for a permanent replacement.”
The resolution passed 22–10, along party lines, with one Democrat not voting.
At the post-vote press conference, Ms. Wolfe insisted that elections in Wisconsin are run with integrity and are fair and accurate.
Ms. Wolfe said she intends to go on working business as usual because “the Dept. of Administration recognizes me as the administrator.”
She said that better communication would lead skeptical citizens to a better understanding of how accurately, fairly, and transparently elections are run in Wisconsin.
“I find it difficult to wrap my head around how we are still here. People’s claims have been taken seriously. They have been well-analyzed and debunked,” said Ms. Wolfe.
She added, “The same claims are still circulating. It is unbelievable that that is still the case. But we can’t give up on exposing skeptics to the process. People can watch everything. There are no dark corners and no locked doors.”
Ms. Wolfe said that it has always been her policy “to give people the information they desire.”
She stated that misrepresentations of her and what she does abound, and that she would like people to “stop with the innuendos.”
Asserting that she doesn’t mind complaints and criticism, Ms. Wolfe said she believes all the “heightened rhetoric is inappropriate.”
At the public hearing on her appointment, which she did not attend but said she watched on television, several citizens said that she should be arrested for election crimes.
Other speakers complained that she withheld requested information from citizen investigators.
When asked if she was concerned about her safety, she said she based her security on the “fortified” relationship with law enforcement that she has cultivated through the years.
Looking Ahead to 2024
Ms. Wolfe said that she was looking forward to administering the 2024 elections and that: “There is not a minute to spare. We have much work to do in the areas in which we have not made progress.”
Republican State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, a long-time election integrity firebrand who has often clashed with Ms. Wolfe, told The Epoch Times, “Ms. Wolfe has done years of damage to the integrity of Wisconsin elections.
“I hope both sides will work towards more transparency and put in place someone who will clean voter rolls, disband the state’s relationship with the Electronic Registration Information Center, and follow existing law.”