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Wisconsin Secretary of State calls for removal of election commissioner who served as fake elector

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Wisconsin Secretary of State calls for removal of election commissioner who served as fake elector

Dec 11, 2023 | 3:22 pm ET
By Henry Redman
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Wisconsin Secretary of State calls for removal of election commissioner who served as fake elector
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Wisconsin Election Commission member Robert Spindell talks to elections observers. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)

Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski and the two Democrats on the Senate elections committee are calling for Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) to remove state elections commissioner Robert Spindell from his position. 

Democrats are calling for Spindell’s removal because he served as a fake elector following the 2020 presidential election, casting a false Electoral College vote for former President Donald Trump despite Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Last week, Spindell and the nine other Republicans who  joined him settled a lawsuit against them for their actions — stating publicly that Biden had won the election and agreeing not to serve as electors for Trump again.

On Monday, Godlewski said Wisconsinites can’t trust Spindell to have a say in how the state’s elections are run. 

“Wisconsin Election Commissioner Robert Spindell Jr. admitted that he was not a qualified 2020 presidential elector and co-signed a fraudulent Certificate of Votes and submitted them to my office,” Godlewski said in a statement. “That unlawful certificate was used as part of a larger scheme to overturn the election. The people of Wisconsin cannot trust the integrity and moral compass of Commissioner Spindell to administer our elections. Senator LeMahieu should immediately remove him from Wisconsin’s Election Commission.”

Democrats on the Senate elections committee, Sens. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) said Monday that Spindell’s admission that he participated in an effort to overturn the election results should be enough for him to resign or for LeMahieu to remove him. 

“Bob Spindell has continued to serve without any repercussions for his actions and statements celebrating lower turnout and successful voter suppression,” the two senators said in a statement. “Now, Bob Spindell has admitted his involvement in the scheme to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election, and it is abundantly clear that the Senate Majority Leader’s excuses and deflections must come to an end. Bob Spindell has admitted to signing and sending false documents claiming that he was a presidential elector for the state of Wisconsin. If there were any remaining questions about whether Bob Spindell should go, they were answered when he finally acknowledged that he signed falsified documents submitted to public officials despite President Joe Biden winning the 2020 election in Wisconsin. Bob Spindell should resign. If he doesn’t, Senator LeMahieu must remove him. We understand the Wisconsin Elections Commission is made up of partisan appointees, but surely Senator LeMahieu can find a different Republican who didn’t attempt to illegally overturn a presidential election. The people of Wisconsin deserve better than Bob Spindell.”

Groups of Republicans in Wisconsin and several other states cast Electoral College votes for Trump as part of an effort to overturn the results of the election. The false votes played a major role in instigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with Republican members of Congress — including Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson — and rioters calling for then-Vice President Mike Pence to certify the election results for Trump by using the false votes. 

Earlier this year, Senate Republicans denied the appointment of Democrat Joseph Czarnezki to the WEC because of his decision to act with the other Democrats on the body in an effort to keep WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe in her job. Senate Republicans said that Czarnezki’s decision amounted to a “dereliction of duty.” 

In Wisconsin, the 10 electors met in secret at the state Capitol at the same time as the duly elected Democratic electors to cast their votes for Trump. The votes were then sent to Congress, the National Archives, the secretary of state and a federal judge. The electors said they cast the votes as part of a strategy to keep Trump’s chances alive if the courts stepped in to change the results, except the state Supreme Court voted 4-3 against the Trump campaign’s efforts — effectively ending the legal effort — before the electoral votes were cast.

Documents released as part of the settlement agreement last week showed the 10 false electors weren’t in agreement in the scheme’s chances at success. 

“The Elector Defendants took the foregoing action because they were told that it was necessary to preserve their electoral votes in the event a court challenge may later change the outcome of the election in Wisconsin,” the electors said in a statement as part of the settlement agreement. “That document was then used as part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 presidential election results. We hereby reaffirm that Joseph R. Biden, Jr. won the 2020 presidential election and that we were not the duly elected presidential electors for the State of Wisconsin for the 2020 presidential election. We oppose any attempt to undermine the public’s faith in the ultimate results of the 2020 presidential election.”

In other states where false Electoral College votes were cast, the electors are facing criminal charges or are the subjects of investigations into their actions. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has so far declined to say what the state Department of Justice is doing about the electors, yet last week CNN reported that Kenneth Cheseboro, an attorney who led the nationwide fake electors plan, is cooperating with Wisconsin investigators. 

Spindell is one of three Republican members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which is responsible for the administration of the state’s elections. Appointed to the body by LeMahieu, Spindell is the most outspoken Republican member of the commission, regularly lodging complaints about the state’s election system. 

In the past, he has used his position to undermine Democratic candidates. He gave advice to members of the Green Party when they failed to gain access to the presidential ballot in 2020 and he regularly claims the commission unfairly excluded Kanye West from the ballot that year (because of a missed filing deadline). 

Spindell has said he wanted West on the ballot because Black voters should have gotten a chance to vote for a Black candidate. Following the 2022 midterm elections, Spindell bragged in a letter to Milwaukee-area Republicans about their successful efforts to suppress the Black vote in Milwaukee that year. 

He has regularly defended his partisan actions while on the commission as proof that the system is working as designed, with each party getting equal representation on the commission so all members can work toward their partisan aims.