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State Rep. Tim Ramthun, R-Campbellsport, has twice pushed a resolution seeking to pull back Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes for President Joe Biden, a move lawyers for the Legislature say is impossible.
Assembly Democrats recently forced a floor vote on the resolution in an effort to put Republicans on the record about it.
But key Assembly leaders have already disagreed with Ramthun’s assertions. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke has called the resolution “illegal” and “just plain unconstitutional.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said lawyers agree the results of the election cannot be undone.
Other members of Assembly Republican leadership signed a statement saying Ramthun was spreading misinformation, acknowledging the Legislature cannot decertify the election.
A rift is growing among state Republicans over the handling of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in Wisconsin.
State Rep. Tim Ramthun, a Republican from Campbellsport who has pushed election conspiracy theories, jumped in the governor’s race in February 2022 and is angling to revoke Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes for President Joe Biden. (Nonpartisan attorneys for the Legislature say this is impossible, and courts, recounts, reviews and an audit have confirmed Biden won the state.)
In doing so, Ramthun has made enemies of GOP leaders who have rebuffed his efforts.
Ramthun’s latest defeat came Feb. 17, 2022, as an Assembly committee unanimously rejected his proposal to revoke the electoral votes. Democrats on the committee forced a vote in an effort to make Republican lawmakers take a public stand on the issue, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
A few days later, Assembly Democratic Leader Greta Neubauer of Racine said as much on Twitter.
"Republican leadership has not been clear about whether they support Rep. Ramthun’s illegal and undemocratic resolution," Neubauer tweeted Feb. 21, 2022. "Now, every Wisconsinite can know where the Assembly’s leaders stand on the integrity of our elections."
But both of the Assembly’s top dogs — Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester and Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna — had already condemned Ramthun’s maneuver prior to the committee vote.
Let’s break it down.
Ramthun first put forth a proposal to pull back Wisconsin’s electoral votes in November 2021. Steineke, who chairs the Assembly’s rules committee, shot it down, saying there wouldn’t be action on the resolution because it didn’t follow the law.
When Ramthun proposed it a second time at the end of January, Steineke again said the committee wouldn’t take it up.
"Rep. Ramthun just attempted to pass an Assembly resolution to recall WI’s presidential electors. Not only is it illegal, it’s just plain unconstitutional," Steineke tweeted. "As chair of the Rules Committee, there is ZERO chance I will advance this illegal resolution. #EndofStory."
Vos made waves when he disciplined Ramthun Jan. 20, 2022, stripping the lawmaker of his only staffer after he falsely accused Vos of signing a deal with attorneys for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to authorize ballot drop boxes.
He told reporters at the time that no one agrees with Ramthun’s claim that Wisconsin could revoke its electoral votes.
"There are some who believe — there’s one who believes — that we somehow have the right (to withdraw electoral votes) even though every lawyer that we have worked with in Wisconsin says we cannot undo the 2020 elections," Vos said. "You know, Rep. Ramthun has that belief. That’s his right. But I think that what we’re focusing on is not the past. We are looking at the past to learn from it."
In a response to a request for backup or the claim, Neubauer’s communications director Sidney Litke acknowledged Vos has said the resolution was illegal, but argued he hadn’t answered whether he supported it.
She pointed to his oversight of former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s review of the 2020 election as evidence that Vos tries to "walk the line" between Republicans who believe election conspiracy theories and those who don’t.
But Neubauer’s claim wasn’t about Vos’s broader actions on elections, it was about Ramthun’s resolution in particular. And it would be hard to argue that he’s been unclear on his support of something he told reporters won’t work.
So the two lawmakers whom most people would consider leaders of the Assembly both said previously they did not agree with Ramthun’s resolution.
But so did other members of Assembly leadership.
The day Vos stripped Ramthun of his staffer, Assembly leaders issued a joint statement saying both Ramthun and his staffer were spreading misinformation.
"With the exception of one person, credible attorneys everywhere have come up with the same legal theory: We do not have the authority to decertify the 2020 election," the statement said.
Along with Steineke, six other Republican members of Assembly leadership signed on to the statement, including Speaker Pro-Tempore Tyler August of Lake Geneva, Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Peterson of Waupaca, Caucus Chairman Tyler Vorpagel of Plymouth, Caucus Vice-Chair Cindi Duchow of Delafield, Caucus Sergeant at Arms Sam Kerkman of Salem and Caucus Secretary Jesse James of Altoona. Six members of the state’s Joint Finance Committee joined them.
Neubauer’s aide also pointed to a Feb. 20, 2022 appearance from Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg on Capital City Sunday in which the senator said no one can know whether Biden’s win in Wisconsin was legitimate. But he too said what Ramthun is seeking is an impossibility.
Neubauer said Republican leadership hadn’t been clear about whether they supported Ramthun’s impossible quest to pull back Wisconsin’s electoral votes.
While Republican leaders have largely followed the GOP line on other election issues, Vos, Steineke and others have clearly said the Ramthun’s resolution is illegal and can’t work, and every member of the Assembly leadership team signed on to a statement disagreeing with the approach.
We rate this claim False.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Election conspiracy theorist Timothy Ramthun enters race for governor, putting Donald Trump's false claims on the 2022 ballot," Feb. 12, 2022
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Committee of Assembly leaders reject Rep. Ramthun's attempt to undo the 2020 election," Feb. 17, 2022
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Wisconsin Republican drew praise from Trump for his call to decertify the 2020 vote. Here's why that won't happen," Nov. 19, 2021
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'It's just plain unconstitutional': Wisconsin GOP leaders again reject resolution to 'pull back' 2020 electoral votes," Jan. 26, 2022
Tweet from Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, Jan. 25, 2022
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Assembly Speaker Robin Vos disciplines GOP lawmaker who is the most vocal denier of 2020 election outcome," Jan. 20, 2022
Email exchange with Sidney Litke, Neubauer’s communications director
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