MADISON, Wisc. (AP) – A group formed to support former President Donald Trump’s agenda is working with Republicans in Wisconsin on a ballot measure that would bypass the state’s Democratic governor to change the way elections are conducted in the State of the battlefield.
The effort represents a further escalation in the ongoing Republican campaign to change election laws in response to Trump’s false allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. It comes as Wisconsin has become the epicenter of this election wars. year, with Republicans trying to dismantle the electoral system they themselves put in place several years ago – and figuring out how to do it with a Democratic governor still in office.
Support for a possible route around Gov. Tony Evers was revealed at a private election meeting hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which advocates for conservative policies with state voting lawmakers and others. areas. Former Trump White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told attendees his new organization, the Center for Election Integrity, was working with elected officials and business leaders in Wisconsin “to find the best path.” around Evers, who said he would block GOP support. electoral measures.
“We have a feeling there is nothing the governor can do about it and it will become law,” Gidley said in a recording of the session made by a participant and obtained by The Associated Press.
The strategy is similar to that already underway in Michigan. State Republicans there are already collecting signatures to put a measure on the ballot that would tighten that state’s election laws, an effort to bypass Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s veto on a similar bill that has passed by the state legislature controlled by the GOP. But Gidley’s statement is the first indication of a group linked to Trump engaged in a similar tactic in Wisconsin.
Asked for comment, Gidley first said he would provide more details about his work in Wisconsin, but did not respond to further requests for comment.
Bill McCoshen, chairman of the board of a conservative group called Common Sense Wisconsin, said he met Gidley in Milwaukee six weeks ago to discuss getting an election proposal on the ballot .
“I think they thought it was a good idea,” McCoshen said. “They didn’t commit to us one way or the other.”
McCoshen’s proposal would require elections to be conducted similarly in Wisconsin; early voting times and days should be the same in every community, and some should change the way they count postal ballots. The measure is widely seen as an attempt to force Democratic towns in the state to restrict access.
The proposal would also prohibit private groups from making large donations to strongly Democratic towns in the state.
Republicans in Wisconsin got angry over more than $ 10 million in election grants that went to more than 200 municipalities last year, with the bulk going to the state’s five largest cities, all of which are strongholds democrats. The money came from $ 350 million in campaign donations from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, which sparked deep Conservative suspicion.
Under the amendment, such money should be shared by all municipalities in the state.
The changes require amending the state’s constitution, a process that takes at least two years as the legislature must pass it in two consecutive sessions. No such amendment has yet been tabled at the Statehouse.
Following Trump’s narrow loss of Wisconsin last year, the state was rocked by a Republican attack on the bipartisan Election Commission that the GOP-controlled legislature itself created six years ago.
Gidley’s group is part of the America First Policy Institute, an organization created under the Trump administration to promote the former president and his policies.
The three-hour session in which Gidley spoke took place at the Conservative Council’s National and National Policy Summit on Wednesday in San Diego, Calif.
The session reflects how electoral issues have become central to the GOP’s agenda since Trump falsely blamed his 2020 loss on fraud. Repeated audits, investigations and prosecutions – including by Trump’s own Justice Department – have revealed no significant fraud in the presidential election. But that hasn’t stopped Republican state legislatures from pushing new laws that largely impose new limits on voting.
During the session, attendees heard from Cleta Mitchell, a prominent Conservative lawyer who advised the former president earlier this year as he pressured Georgia Republicans to declare him the winner of a state won by President Joe Biden. Arizona Senate Speaker Karen Fann also addressed the group, which endorsed an election review in that state’s largest county that has pursued various conspiracy theories. He couldn’t prove any fraud in Biden’s victory there.
Gidley praised the Arizona review. “Arizona has done a great job with their audits,” he told the group.