Photo by Saiyna Bashir, The Capital Times

A new group with conservative links has filed a federal lawsuit against five Wisconsin cities seeking to prevent them from using $6.3 million in grants from a private center to run the fall elections, likening the money to bribery.

The Wisconsin Voter Alliance, created recently to protect the “integrity of Wisconsin’s elections,” argues in the suit filed yesterday that the cities of Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine are barred from accepting the money under federal law. The group says federal law gives legal authority to the states, not local governments to implement federal elections.

The cities have announced the money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life will go toward costs such as: purchasing drop boxes for absentee ballots, paying poll workers, purchasing PPE for polling sites, buying equipment to help fulfill absentee ballot requests, and helping voters upload images of their valid photo ID as part of the absentee ballot process.

The grants were announced in early July.

The suit says the Center for Tech and Civic Life is a Dem-leaning group helping cities that supported Hillary Clinton four years ago. It argues that violates Wisconsin law against offering anything of value to induce someone to vote.

The complaint describes the Wisconsin Voter Alliance as a non-profit corporation. The law firm that filed the federal action is the same one that represented entertainer Kanye West in his unsuccessful lawsuit to get on Wisconsin’s presidential ballot after his campaign failed to turn in his nomination papers on time.

Two of the attorneys on the WVA suit appeared before a Brown County judge in West’s case, and Erick Kaardal is listed on the federal lawsuit as a special counsel to the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, which is “dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty.” The Chicago-based firm is often involved in anti-abortion cases.

Read the complaint here.

The state Elections Commission previously rejected a similar complaint the Wisconsin Voters Alliance filed with the agency because no one listed on it lived in one of the cities targeted.

Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe wrote in a letter responding to the WVA complaint that state law has a residency requirement for such actions that the group had failed to meet.

The complaint listed Fred Krumberger, of Suamico, as a complainant along with the WVA. He is the husband of a former Brown County GOP chair and was listed as one of West’s electors as part of the entertainer’s unsuccessful bid to get on the Wisconsin ballot. He also was part of the lawsuit filed in Brown County court that sought to overturn the Elections Commission’s 5-1 ruling that West’s nomination papers were turned in late.

A Pleasant Prairie man filed a separate complaint over the grants earlier this month. Wolfe also rejected his complaint because he wasn’t a resident of one of the cities that received the money.

See more on the previous WVA complaint here.

See more on the second complaint here.

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