Washington, D.C. — Government watchdog Accountable.US released a new report revealing the top corporate donors of the Wisconsin politicians pushing for election audits and peddling baseless 2020 election conspiracies, including those connected to extremist groups and with histories of anti-vaccine rhetoric.
The report focuses on state representatives Janel Brandtjen, Dave Murphy, and Chuck Wichgers, who all attended a sham election ‘audit’ in Maricopa County, Arizona earlier this year and have since joined far-right state-level officials across the country requesting similar audits in their states at the expense of the taxpayers. Accountable.US called on the corporations and trade associations that have supported the campaigns of these representatives to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars to explain whether these extreme values align with their own.
“These fringe representatives are willing to undermine our democracy just to score political points with the twice-impeached former president by keeping his Big Lie alive,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “They would rather fan the flames of insurrection by spreading unhinged conspiracy theories than accept the will of the people. It is clear that no amount of evidence that the election was fair will satisfy those who are acting in bad faith. The question is: why haven’t the corporations that have supported these anti-democratic representatives in the past condemned their rhetoric?”
While their demands are outlandish, this isn’t the first time these state-level officials have put their constituents on the backburner to spread harmful conspiracy theories:
- Janel Brandtjen: Brandtjen was put in charge of Wisconsin’s Campaigns and Elections Committee, an existing legislative committee which she used to sow doubt in the 2020 election after she had previously said there was “no doubt” that “Donald Trump won this election in Wisconsin.” Brandtjen has also accused voting nonprofits of manipulating the election process, despite these concerns being dismissed by both the Wisconsin Elections Commission and a federal court. Following the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Brandtjen criticized police actions, particularly in the death of Ashli Babbitt, who Brandtjen characterized as an “unarmed veteran.”
- Dave Murphy: Murphy visited the Maricopa audit site, and even defended stories of investigations for bamboo on ballots to detect Chinese interference. Murphy had claimed the 2020 election “violated Wisconsin law,” and alleged “poorly trained election officials” in “big city” polling places of intimidating poll watchers. More recently, he has downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 in the state while attacking “discrimination based on the use of a COVID-19 vaccine.”
- Chuck Wichgers: Not only did Wichgers sign a letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence on January 5, 2021 that claimed “hundreds of thousands of ballots” in the 2020 election had their validity in question and calling for the delay of the certification of the electoral vote, he also toured the Maricopa County ‘audit.’ Wichgers also has a history of pushing anti-vaccination conspiracy theories as a state legislator: before COVID-19, and amidst an increasing number of Wisconsinites objecting to vaccinating their children, Wichgers was blamed by both Republicans and Democrats as holding up hearings on potentially tightening Wisconsin’s loose vaccine exemption laws. During COVID-19, Wichgers signed onto a court effort against the mask mandate.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.
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