Mostly True
"Tammy Baldwin cosponsored legislation that wanted to establish the Department of Peace and Nonviolence."  

Kevin Nicholson on Friday, May 4th, 2018 in an interview

Sen. Tammy Baldwin did back a Department of Peace, but Kevin Nicholson's attack needs some context

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin was attacked as being soft on defense by Kevin Nicholson, one of the two Republicans seeking to run against Baldwin in November 2018. (The other GOP candidate is state Sen. Leah Vukmir.)

While defending his criticism of military veterans who support Democrats, Kevin Nicholson also attacked Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin -- the Democrat whose job he wants.

Nicholson was interviewed May 4, 2018 by Dan O’Donnell, who hosts a conservative talk show on WISN-AM in Milwaukee. Nicholson, a first-time candidate and former Marine, said:

Tammy Baldwin cosponsored legislation that wanted to establish the Department of Peace and Nonviolence. That’s a fundamentally unserious answer to a serious question -- the question being, How do we keep the American people safe? She’s going to have to answer for that in this election. I’m going to make sure that she does.

Nicholson made essentially the same claim about Baldwin and the Department of Peace in another Milwaukee radio interview two days earlier.

Moreover, both Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir -- the two Republicans vying in the August 2018 primary to challenge Baldwin three months later -- are trying to portray Baldwin as extreme.

So is an outside group -- although we rated Mostly False its claim that Baldwin "supported legislation allowing citizens to withhold funding for our troops."

As we’ll see, Baldwin did back the Department of Peace legislation, which the Washington Post called the "Hope Diamond of liberal ideas: pure, breathtaking and highly impractical in the real world."

But it’s important to note that Baldwin’s most recent cosponsorship was before she left the House for the Senate, and that as a senator she has backed certain national defense measures.

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The legislation

To back Nicholson’s claim, his campaign cited Baldwin’s cosponsorship, as a member of the U.S. House, of the 2007 version of the Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act. It was introduced by then-U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.

(Baldwin for 14 years held the Madison-area House seat now held by Democrat Mark Pocan. She joined the Senate in 2013.)

In 2009, Kucinich introduced a similar measure, the Department of Peace Act. Baldwin cosponsored it and she cosponsored the 2011 version.

The 2012 Post article said that with the $10 billion-a-year Department of Peace:

A secretary of peace would sit in the president’s Cabinet and on the National Security Council. The secretary would be given a special new role in the country’s military decisions: If a conflict was about to start, the secretaries of defense and state would have to consult the Peace secretary "concerning nonviolent means of conflict resolution."

The summary of the bill said the department’s mission would be to:

Hold peace as an organizing principle; endeavor to promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; and develop policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful resolution of conflict, and structured mediation of conflict.

The bills were referred to committee, but no other actions were taken.

In response to Nicholson’s claim, Baldwin’s campaign told us the peace secretary also would have been charged with developing policies to address domestic violence and reduce incarceration; and the campaign said that one of the nation’s founding fathers, Benjamin Rush, had promoted the idea of a peace secretary.

More fact checks on the Senate candidates:

Kevin Nicholson

Tammy Baldwin

Leah Vukmir


And though she is far from being a hawk, Baldwin has been out front on certain defense measures:

  • Touting her vote for the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, saying it strengthens national security.

Our rating

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

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

But it’s important to note, in terms of Nicholson’s suggestion that the cosponsorships were Baldwin’s answer to national security problems, that Baldwin has supported some defense-spending measures, as well.

We rate Nicholson’s statement Mostly True.

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Mostly True
Nicholson "Tammy Baldwin cosponsored legislation that wanted to establish the Department of Peace and Nonviolence."
In an interview
Friday, May 4, 2018