Senate President Chris Kapenga urged the Assembly to take up the impeachment of rogue Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe, who was ousted by the Republican-controlled Senate nearly a month ago but refuses to step down.
In a letter to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) on Wednesday, Kapenga (pictured above, left) wrote that it is unprecedented for a state appointee to refuse to obey the Senate through its advice and consent powers, as Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) Administrator Meagan Wolfe has done.
“The head election official is a position that is required to be non-partisan in nature. Independence and neutrality are necessary to ensure every Wisconsin voter has confidence in the execution of elections, yet this position has become one of the most politically divisive in this state,” the Delafield Republican wrote.
As The Wisconsin Daily Star reported last month, five Republican state representatives introduced a resolution to impeach the embattled bureaucrat, who was fired earlier in September by the GOP-controlled State Senate. The resolution charges Wolfe with multiple counts of maladministration during her four-year tenure, including authoring guidance documents and rules found to be in violation of state election laws.
Republicans have often accused Wolfe (pictured above, right) of partisan actions in administering what is supposed to be a non-partisan elections commission.
Vos and the Assembly have yet to do anything with the impeachment resolution.
Some Republicans are growing frustrated with the lack of action.
“How much more does the Legislature have to endure from an out-of-control bureaucrat who is trying to steal authority from the people by superseding the Legislature,” said State Representative Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), co-author of the impeachment resolution.
Vos’ office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Daily Star.
In his letter to the speaker, Kapenga asserts the problem has been “more exaggerated by a combative executive branch.”
“This includes an overreaching Attorney General filing a lawsuit on behalf of the former head of elections attempting to subvert the will of the Legislature through a court system which is now run by a hyperpolitical Supreme Court,” the senator wrote. “How can we expect impartiality to come from justices who have now broken their own rules and the law out of politically motivated intent?
“We are on the verge of a constitutional crisis.”
After the Senate voted to reject Wolfe’s appointment to serve a second four-year term, far-left Attorney General Josh Kaul quickly filed a pre-packaged lawsuit arguing the Senate’s action has “no legal effect.” It’s an interesting interpretation of the state Constitution, which, like the U.S. Constitution, vests in the Senate the exclusive authority in “advice and consent” on nominees serving in the executive branch.
Wolfe pledged to remain as administrator until the litigation is settled.
Kaul and other liberals insist the Senate vote to fire Wolfe isn’t valid because the six-member Wisconsin Elections Commission did not come up with a 4-2 majority vote to send Wolfe’s nomination to a Senate confirmation vote.
The commission’s three Republicans instead approved a motion to do so 3-0, while the Democrats abstained.
It was clearly a procedural game played by the Democrats, believing they could keep Wolfe in the administrator post indefinitely after her term expired in June. But Republicans assert the 3-0 vote is the majority needed, and the Senate called the confirmation vote.
The litigation is ultimately destined for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which, as Kapenga notes, now holds a 4-3 liberal majority. Republicans expect the majority, with a record of liberal activism from the bench, to side with Wolfe and Democrats who insist a previous state Supreme Court ruling allowing a Department of Natural Resources Board member to remain on the board after his term expired is equivalent to the Wolfe case.
Impeachment, a power clearly and unequivocally held by the Legislature, would end the legal dispute. If the impeachment resolution passes, Wolfe would have to vacate the Wisconsin Elections Commission Office while the Senate takes up the impeachment case. The same supermajority of Senate Republicans who voted to reject Wolfe’s nomination would most likely vote to remove her from her leadership post.
“Never before have we seen the extent of these unprecedented, politically motivated actions. This requires us, as the Legislature, to ensure we use every tool provided in the constitution to protect the people’s voice,” Kapenga wrote in his letter to Vos. “Impeachment is not taken lightly, but when we have lost trust in justice to be impartially carried out at all levels, it is time to act and put this embarrassment behind us. It is time to restore confidence not just in our elections process but in the rule of law.”
A spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission did not immediately return The Daily Star’s request for comment.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.