Fact checking Wisconsin Republicans

Wisconsin Republicans are hoping to deny Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (center) a second term in the November 2018 elections. Vying for the GOP nomination to challenge Baldwin are political newcomer Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir.
Wisconsin Republicans are hoping to deny Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (center) a second term in the November 2018 elections. Vying for the GOP nomination to challenge Baldwin are political newcomer Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir.

The Wisconsin Republican Party holds its annual convention May 11-13, 2018, in Milwaukee.

Among the November 2018 races party members are bracing for are the election for U.S. Senate, with newcomer Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir vying for the GOP nomination to challenge Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who is seeking a second term; and for governor, with Scott Walker seeking a third term.

Here’s a look at our seven most recent fact checks of state Republicans.

(The state Democratic Party holds its convention June 1-2, 2018, in Oshkosh.)

1. Nicholson: Baldwin "cosponsored legislation that wanted to establish the Department of Peace and Nonviolence."

Our rating: Mostly True.

As a member of the House before joining the Senate, Baldwin did cosponsor the 2007, 2009 and 2011 versions of those bills, which did not become law.

But Nicholson suggested the cosponsorships were Baldwin’s answer to national security problems. It’s important to note that Baldwin has supported some defense spending measures, as well, including measures to build combat ships in Wisconsin.

2. Nicholson: Says conservative mega-donor Richard Uihlein is a Wisconsin resident.

Our rating: False.

In trying to underline the support he has in the state, Nicholson released a list of his Wisconsin supporters that included "Dick and Liz Uihlein (Minocqua)."

The Uihleins are major business owners in Pleasant Prairie and own property in Manitowish Waters. But Richard Uihlein is frequently referred to in the media as an Illinois businessman and he is a registered voter of Illinois. So is his wife, Elizabeth A. Uihlein.

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3. Paul Ryan: Says that on the tax reform law, Democratic leaders "are promising to take it all away."

Our rating: Half True.

Democratic leaders in Congress have been harshly critical of the law, signed in December 2017, and have talked about the need to repeal or at least review most of it.

But the tax reform law also provides tax benefits to the middle class which -- despite the claim by the House speaker, who is not seeking re-election to his House seat -- the Democratic leaders have indicated they want to keep.

4. Ron Johnson: "We have laws on the books where people can walk right up to our ports of entry, say ‘I have a credible fear of persecution,’ and we bring them in. We don’t send them back."

Our rating: Mostly False.

Those who make a "credible fear" claim are not simply brought into the United States, despite the claim of Wisconsin’s senior U.S. senator. Rather, there is an extensive review process and, in some cases, asylum cases can take years. Moreover, statistics show that many have their cases rejected and are sent back -- including nearly 90 percent of those from Mexico.

That said, the scenario Johnson lays out can happen with unaccompanied children who arrive at the border -- for example if they fail to show up for their hearing and disappear into the country instead.

5. Walker: "Our bold reforms have Wisconsin’s unemployment rate down to an all-time LOW of 2.9 percent, and the number of people working at an all-time HIGH!"

Our rating: Half True.

The governor is correct on the two statistics.

But his various reforms can only be considered to be a contributing factor, at most, given many factors that affect the state’s economy.

6. Walker: Says "Eric Holder and his group came in and made" the Wisconsin Supreme Court race "highly partisan."

Our rating: Mostly False.

Holder, the attorney general under President Barack Obama, came to Wisconsin in March 2018, a few weeks before election day, to campaign for Rebecca Dallet, the eventual winner. And a group he leads said it and its affiliates spent more than $500,000 backing Dallet. That added a national partisan dimension to the campaign.

But you can’t get any more partisan than a political party, and county Republican Party groups started backing the other candidate, Michael Screnock, months earlier, in November 2017. Ultimately, Republican Party groups, led by the state party, backed Screnock to the tune of some $400,000.

Vukmir: Baldwin "claims to support a 'Buy America' philosophy, but her actions speak louder than her empty words."

Our rating: False.

Vukmir cited several broad matters that relate to the economy, but none that specifically applied to undermining Buy American initiatives. Meanwhile, Baldwin has been engaged with other "Buy American" actions. Indeed, at times her views seem to align with Trump’s "America First" policies.

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