MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly met privately on Wednesday with advocates for decertifying President Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, but only after he ousted another GOP lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate from the closed-door rally.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called the meeting, saying as he entered the Capitol hearing room that he was meeting anyone who asked. But he would not allow State Rep. Timothy Ramthun, a gubernatorial candidate who has introduced resolutions to void the election, into the room.
“No more filibuster,” Ramthun said as he left the room. “That’s what I’ve been dealing with for 17 months.”
Vos said Tuesday that the meeting was a chance for those who think the 2020 election cannot be decertified to discuss it with decertification advocates. One of those present at the meeting, Anne Sappenfield, is the head of the Legislative Assembly’s Nonpartisan Counsel Office. The office said it was illegal to decertify the election.
Vos reiterated on Tuesday that he does not believe decertification is possible. But another participant in the meeting, Jefferson Davis, said the goal of supporters of the idea was to convince Vos to change his mind.
Several other people were present at the meeting, which was to be followed by a press conference called by Davis to present evidence of alleged voter fraud. When Vos, Davis and others entered the meeting room, they passed a woman holding an American flag that read “Vos Stop Voter Fraud” on the white stripes.
Vos has come under pressure from former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, including Ramthun, who support his false claims that the election was stolen and say Vos isn’t doing enough, including decertifying the victory of Biden.
The meeting comes after the investigator Vos hired, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, this month urged lawmakers to consider decertifying Biden’s victory.
Biden’s victory by just under 21,000 votes over Trump withstood lawsuits, recounts and reviews by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Office.
Vos, Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and state GOP Chairman Paul Farrow were scheduled to meet with Republican county presidents Wednesday night to discuss voter fraud and other issues.
Ramthun and Vos clashed over the election and its aftermath. Vos and other Republican leaders refused to take up Ramthun’s resolutions to void the election. And in January, Vos fired Ramthun’s only staffer as punishment after Vos said he had falsely accused Vos of signing a deal with lawyers for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham. Clinton to allow mail-in ballot boxes.
Ramthun has become one of the most vocal advocates of the election conspiracy theory in Wisconsin, using it as the main issue for his gubernatorial bid. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, also a purveyor of false claims that Trump won the 2020 election, endorsed Ramthun.
Ramthun told reporters after being kicked out of the meeting that it should be open to the public. He also urged the filing of criminal charges against anyone who violated the 2020 election law, including members of Wisconsin’s bipartisan Elections Commission.
Three county prosecutors declined to press charges against the commission members, citing a lack of evidence. Statewide, 24 people were charged with voter fraud, a tiny percentage of the nearly 3.3 million people who voted, which is comparable to previous elections.
This story has been corrected to show that the legislative prosecutor is Anne Sappenfield, not Ann Sappenfeild.
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