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COVID-19

This can be a frightening time, but our state has incredible health professionals who are working to contain the spread. We cannot do this alone; we need all hands on deck to protect the public from COVID-19.
– Gov. Tony Evers on March 12. Evers declared a public health emergency in Wisconsin as the state saw new coronavirus cases impact several communities.  

There’s no need for the Assembly to come in and have politicians grandstand on the issue. If additional resources are needed, we have a process where agencies can make a request to the Joint Committee on Finance.
– Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on March 10 about whether the full Legislature would need to convene to address COVID-19. 

If we continue doing what we’re doing, we may be in a position to do this earlier. It may be later. We will work hard to make sure we do it right.
– Gov. Tony Evers, who said the May 26 expiration of his administration’s extended stay-at-home due to COVID-19 was not a hard date for reopening the state’s economy. Evers said he was working with the guvs of Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky on a reopening plan. 

Everyone agrees that reasonable measures must be taken during a public health crisis. Health and safety are a priority, however to extend this order for another month without a plan for how to reopen the state or clear benchmarks for an early expiration is simply unacceptable.
– Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, on April 16.

All of this is about individual responsibility, every single piece of it, whether it’s related to our order or related to people’s behavior in their home or any place.
– Dem Gov. Tony Evers Oct. 6 on the state’s “out of control” increase in COVID-19 cases, which resulted in record hospitalizations that left hospitals in some regions overwhelmed. Evers issued an emergency order limiting many public places to 25 percent capacity. He also activated a State Fair Park care facility to house patients hospitalized with less-severe cases. 

Governor Evers’ disregard for the state constitution and the role of the three branches of government is mind-boggling. The Governor’s order is not valid and is not worth the paper it’s printed on.
– Fitzgerald, who along with Vos on Oct. 7 urged DHS Secretary Andrea Palm to immediately begin the administrative rules process so lawmakers could review the order.

We will not have learned the lessons from our very hurried, very rushed, very massive, earlier relief packages. We’re just going to do more of the same, another trillion dollars. It takes our debt from $27.4 trillion to $28.4 trillion in a couple months.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in a floor speech on Dec. 18 on blocking a unanimous consent motion that would have approved a bill aimed at providing another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

Funny how when @SenRonJohnson voted for a $740,000,000,000 defense budget last week, we heard nothing about the national debt. But $1,200 for the American people—now that’s too far.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, in a Dec. 18 tweet.

Spring Election

It’s time for the Legislature to do its part, just like all of us are, to help keep each other safe.
– Gov. Tony Evers in a video posted to Twitter on April 3 calling a special session the next day for the Legislature to take up legislation that would allow an all-mail spring election. Evers said despite efforts to increase safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, voters and poll workers would be exposed to large groups of people and will be unable to practice social distancing.

Instead of remaining strong to ensure our representative democracy continues, he caves under political pressures from national liberal special interest groups.
– Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, slamming Evers for the special session call. 

The BOW-WOW counties were the Republican dog that didn’t bark. I think that’s a bright red alert for Trump in Wisconsin for November to see that he underperformed a Supreme Court candidate in our state who himself lost by 10 points.
– State Dem Party Chair Ben Wikler on Jill Karofsky’s Supreme Court victory during an April 16 WisPolitics.com-Milwaukee Press Club panel discussion with state GOP Chair Andrew Hitt. Wikler touted a “surge of Democratic voters” in the traditionally Republican counties of Brown, Outagamie, Winnebago, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington. 

I suspect that we needed to do a better job of activating those solely Trump-motivated voters. The people who voted for the president in 2016 but sat out in 2018, we got them back in 2019 and I think we lost them again in the spring of 2020.
– Hitt, who dismissed the notion that the election was a referendum on President Trump even though he endorsed Kelly. Read more and watch video of the event here

Unemployment

Why are people working 7-5 p.m. on the phones when we have people waiting eight weeks to get a paycheck that they need in order to make ends meet?
– Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, during a May 27 hearing in which Republicans grilled Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman over delays in handling an historic pandemic-spurred spike in unemployment insurance claims. The agency at the time said it had received more than 2.4 million unemployment claims and paid 1.7 million. Frostman and other DWD representatives highlighted efforts to increase call center capacity and hours, while putting some of the blame on an antiquated computer system used to input and process claims. Evers ultimately asked for Frostman’s resignation.

Clearly, remember, Republicans control how the money is spent in the budget and they chose not to put the money into upgrading the unemployment system.
– Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, who dinged his GOP colleagues for trying to blame the Evers administration for the backlog. He accused them of doing nothing to help the program during their 10 years in control of the Legislature.

Our staff became the front lines for your guys. In some cases, our offices became call centers. Going forward, I hope that your plan includes partnerships that you never even thought of before.
– Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem and co-chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, during a Dec. 16 hearing on the unemployment claims backlog. 

At this point, no amount of staff can speed up a process if state statutes are the piece that is slowing the process down.
– Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, who during the hearing called for a closer look at laws that she said add “time and inefficiency to the process.”

Evers vs. GOP Legislative Leaders

As you know, I am a teacher-turned-governor, so to that end, I am assigning the legislature some homework to complete before adjourning later this year. The assignment begins with the issues that a majority of people in our state support and on which I think we should be able to agree.
– Dem Gov. Tony Evers in a Jan. 9 letter to legislative leaders asking them to take action on issues such as homelessness and drinking water contamination this year. 

I thought I had a good meeting with the governor last week where we discussed priorities. But giving a coequal branch of government “homework” in a condescending letter won’t help him grow support for an agenda with Senate Republicans. The tone of this letter is ridiculous.
– Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in response. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, tweeted that “#condescending is a polite term for what it is.”

In 26 years in the Legislature, this is one of the most brazen examples of unethical, unprofessional conduct I have ever seen. The governor has gone so far off the deep end, he’s making secret Nixonesque recordings from the East Wing of the Capitol.
– Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, on Gov. Tony Evers’ staff recording a May conversation with Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, without their knowledge on a rules package to address COVID-19. Evers said he was unaware a staffer recorded the call. 

I directed the staff to know that was improper and it will never happen again. This is obviously a personnel issue and discipline issues are being handled internally.
– Gov. Tony Evers. 

Supreme Court Race

Every single time Kelly has the opportunity to rule in favor of special interests and conservatives, he does it every time.
– Jill Karofsky, then a Dane County judge, during a Jan. 30 Milwaukee Bar Association Supreme Court candidate forum. She said it “feels like corruption” when judges rule on cases involving companies or individuals who donated significant money to their campaign.

That’s a lie that you tell, and you tell it regularly, and it’s disgusting. I’ve never had my honor and integrity called into question until now when it suits your political ambition.
– Incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly, who said every opinion he wrote had the backing of at least three of the six other justices and that an attack on his integrity was an attack on all. Kelly added he deserved an apology and demanded that Karofsky apologize to Chief Justice Patience Roggensack for bringing her integrity into question. 

“I’m looking forward to sitting down with them over a cup of coffee or a good Wisconsin beer so we can put our differences aside so we can go to work and we can make decisions for the people of Wisconsin,” Karofsky said. “I don’t anticipate any problem with that.”‘
– Karofsky, who won with 55.2 percent of the vote, becoming just the second person to defeat a sitting justice in 53 years.

The expiration of the time and authority loaned to me is a reminder that our system still works — that our Constitution endures through every test and trial, and that here in America the lawful will of the people shall always prevail.
– Kelly, who noted he often said during campaign stops that the people of Wisconsin were his bosses and the court’s authority was on loan from them according to the terms of the constitution.

I don’t know if she’ll ever attempt to repair the damage she’s afflicted on the judiciary or on the court with her scandalous attacks against us. But she ran one of the most partisan political campaigns I think in Supreme Court history. I fully expect her votes to be as political and outcome oriented as she promised us they would be.
– Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley, who said after the election she continued to believe Karofsky is unfit for the court.

Civil Unrest

You happen to have a Democrat governor right now. If you would have had Gov. Walker, that wouldn’t have happened.
– President Trump during a June 25 Fox News town hall meeting in Green Bay on a violent protest in Madison. Protesters toppled the statues of Lady Forward and Union Civil War Col. Hans Christian Heg, upset planters, broke windows and spray painted some doors. A group of protesters also attacked and injured Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee. Trump suggested he was there to encourage protesters “because Democrats think it’s wonderful that they’re destroying our country.” Trump also visited Fincantieri Marinette Marine. 

I want to be clear: violence against any person—whether in the middle of the street in broad daylight, at home trying to sleep, going for a run, or happening upon a protest as was the case last night—is wrong.  It should never be tolerated.
– Gov. Tony Evers on the June 23 violence and vandalism at the Capitol. Evers activated the National Guard to assist local law enforcement and protect critical infrastructure. 

We’re not going to negotiate with terrorists.
– Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, who along with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said violence and vandalism wouldn’t speed up action on police reform. 

I feel confident we have met our obligations. Do I wish it hadn’t turned out the way it did? Of course. Who wants to see the type of drama and destruction that is happening in Kenosha? It’s not acceptable.
– Gov Tony Evers, who during an Aug. 27 press conference in Kenosha said he provided the resources local officials requested to deal with violence, property destruction and looting in the city after police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black father of six. Evers drew fire for initially turning down a White House offer for Department of Homeland Security agents to assist in quelling unrest after the Aug. 23 shooting, but he later accepted other federal law enforcement help and ultimately ramped up the National Guard deployment to 750 troops. 

The best leaders attempt to diffuse situations, not escalate them. Evers’ statement was irresponsible and inflammatory. … Evers stereotyped every police interaction with people of color – harming both.
– Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, and a former police officer, on Evers’ comments following the shooting of Blake. Evers in his statement said Blake “is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.” 

I’m really frustrated that those people did not have to die, and because of Tony Evers’ actions, they’re dead.
– Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on an Aug. 26 radio program after a 17-year-old Illinois resident shot three people, killing two, during the third night of unrest in Kenosha.  

That’s another way of saying “very fine people,” I would say, Robin Vos’ comment. That’s another way of saying “very fine people,” to blame it on Tony Evers.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, responding to Vos’ comments. Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 17-year-old Illinois resident, faces homicide and other charges in the Aug. 25 shooting and is claiming self defense. Moore was referencing Trump’s words after a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville where a counter-protester was murdered. Trump said there were “some very fine people on both sides.”

Dem National Convention

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m very, very disappointed in this professionally and personally because I think we all have had so much pride in having Milwaukee chosen.
– Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Aug. 5 upon news Joe Biden wouldn’t come to Milwaukee to accept the Dem presidential nomination due to COVID-19 concerns. The convention was dramatically scaled-back to a mostly virtual affair and led some to call for Milwaukee to host it again in 2024. 

As you know, Joe Biden refuses to come to Wisconsin next week for his own convention.  Now, maybe after he hears about this call he will … but he’s not even going to pay the respect of at least making a stopover. The Democrats are once again ignoring the incredible people of Wisconsin.
– President Trump during an Aug. 12 Wisconsin tele-rally ahead of his visit to Oshkosh for an in-person rally as the Democratic National Convention kicked off in Milwaukee.

Presidential election 

Biden would absolutely eradicate your state’s economy. If Biden wins, China wins, the mob wins, the rioters, arsonists and flag burners win.
– President Trump during a Sept. 17 rally in Mosinee. Trump told the crowd former Vice President Joe Biden would “surrender our country to the violent, left-wing mob.”

His betrayal of the fundamental duties of the office has left Wisconsin small businesses shuttered, parents worrying about their children’s safety at school, far too many workers out of a job, and thousands of families mourning the loss of loved ones. It didn’t have to be this bad.
– Biden slamming Trump ahead of the rally over his response to COVID-19.

I don’t think it’s likely, only because of the environment that we are in. We’re going to probably be outspent, but we’re not going to be outworked.
– Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, giving his party a 1-in-3 shot at winning a veto-proof supermajority in the fall. Vos was joined by Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, in a Sept. 16 virtual WisPolitics.com luncheon focusing on races to watch in the leadup to Nov. 3. 

It’s a little rich to hear the speaker complain about money. The reality is that we’re motivated.
– Hintz, who suggested Dem motivation is behind the fundraising advantage. Republicans over the years have also loosened fundraising restrictions in Wisconsin, allowing unlimited donations to political parties and PACs. Watch the luncheon here.

All of the Bucks’ and Brewers’ athletes and mascots are, of course, beloved of their fans, so their presence at a venue is undoubtedly something of significant value. Consequently, it would be inappropriate for them to be at Miller Park or Fiserv Forum while those venues are in use as alternate absentee ballot sites.
– State GOP Chair Andrew Hitt alleging that appearances of players or mascots when Fiserv Forum and Miller Park serve as early voting locations would violate Wisconsin’s ban on electioneering at polling sites. 

The Republican Party is apparently so afraid of voting that they’re complaining about Racing Sausages at Miller Park. The GOP’s laughable attempts won’t distract the public from the truth: voting in 2020 is easy, simple, and can change the world.
– State Dem Party Chair Ben Wikler.

If we win Wisconsin, we win the whole ballgame. I mean, what the hell do you think I’m doing here on a freezing night with 45-mph wind? You think I’m doing this for my health?
– President Trump in Janesville Oct. 17. 

We are eight months in … and the Trump administration still has no plan to deal with this crisis. People continue to die, hundreds a day. On Nov. 3 we will hold Donald Trump accountable.
– U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., slamming Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Warren, who dropped her bid for the presidency in March, stumped for the Biden-Harris ticket at a drive-in rally in Madison ahead of Trump’s visit to Janesville. 

Election Lawsuits

I think it is unlikely we would find enough cases of fraud to overturn the election. I think it’s unlikely, but I don’t know that. That’s why you have an investigation.
– Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who directed the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee to use its subpoena power to investigate allegations of irregularities and fraud in the presidential election. Vos said he hoped the committee would investigate the “inefficiency of Milwaukee’s central counting of absentee ballots, as well as the removal of voters from the rolls who no longer live here.”

For the Speaker to separate out Milwaukee and insinuate that our election workers were not part of the well-trained and efficient operations that allowed Wisconsin to have election results in such a timely manner is absurd and insulting.
– Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg, who also noted central count “was open, transparent, well-organized and made up of nearly 70 election workers from Representative Vos’s own Republican Party.”

This seems to be more codifying the fact that this is the party of Donald Trump and the speaker is going to do his bidding.
– Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, questioning why Vos singled out Milwaukee’s central count, pointing out it is the state’s most racially diverse city. Hintz also said Republicans for years have “blown the dog whistle” in claiming voter fraud, especially among minority populations.

Obviously, I’m offended that he picks the county and the city that has the highest percentage of African Americans in the state. … A failed candidate, a failed campaign, and soon to be a failed recount effort.
– Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on President Trump’s request for a recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties. 

Nov. 18: We will not stop fighting for transparency and integrity in our electoral process to ensure that all Americans can trust the results of a free and fair election in Wisconsin and across the country.
– Trump campaign attorney Jim Troupis after the recount confirmed Biden’s win over Trump by 20,682 votes.

The claims that the president made, and his allies in the three suits, were frankly an assault on our democracy. The issues that were brought up were issues that have been in place for at least 10 to 11 different elections. To now come in at the last minute and say somehow the procedures are wrong … is just such a horrible stretch.
– Gov. Tony Evers slamming lawsuits from President Trump and others challenging Wisconsin’s election results.

Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.
– Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn, who joined the state Supreme Court’s three liberal justices in rejecting the Trump campaign’s request to have the high court directly hear its lawsuit challenging the Nov. 3 election. Hagedorn wrote that state law requires campaigns to first go to circuit court in challenging the results of a recount.

We, as the law declaring court, owe it to the public to declare whether WEC’s advice is incorrect. However, doing so does not necessarily lead to striking absentee ballots that were cast by following incorrect WEC advice. The remedy Petitioners seek may be out of reach for a number of reasons.
– Conservative Chief Justice Pat Roggensack, who wrote in her dissent that she would have granted the petition and then referred the fact-finding aspects of the case to circuit court, which would then report back to the justices to decide “the important legal questions presented.”

There has been no credible evidence presented to the Elections Commission that any of these problems occurred in Wisconsin.
– Elections Commissioner Dean Knudson, a former GOP lawmaker, on allegations of major fraud and irregularities in the fall election during a Dec. 11 joint hearing of the Legislature’s election committees. Knudson, however, called for lawmakers next session to pass legislation to clear up some practices. Dem members criticized the hearing as a sham and walked out after about two hours. 

I need more information. The American people need more information. I’m not ready to just close and slam the book on this thing and go “OK, let’s walk away from it.”
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in advance of a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which Johnson chairs, to examine election “irregularities.” 

Wisconsin’s biggest embarrassment continues. @SenRonJohnson’s desperate need for Donald Trump’s approval is beyond being a sycophant and bordering on being a cult follower or stalker. Either way, not a good look for a US Senator.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, in a tweet.

There was fraud in this election — I don’t have any doubt about that, there was fraud. We just don’t know the extent, and we don’t know what the remedy would be when identified.
– Johnson during his Dec. 16 hearing. Johnson conceded “the conclusion has collectively been reached” on Biden’s victory by a combination of courts, election officials and the Electoral College.

The president and many of his supporters are unfortunately continuing their efforts to undermine the will of the people, disenfranchise voters and sow the seeds of mistrust and discontent to further their partisan desire for power. Whether intended or not this hearing gives a platform to conspiracy theories and lies.
– U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, a Michigan Dem who served as the panel’s ranking member, during his opening statement. During a testy exchange, Johnson knocked Peters, saying he repeatedly lied in the press about Johnson spreading Russian disinformation. “I can’t sit by here and listen to this and say — this is not disinformation at this hearing today,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to be able to just move on without bringing up these irregularities.”

Election claims of this type must be brought expeditiously. The Campaign waited until after the election to raise selective challenges that could have been raised long before the election. The Campaign is not entitled to relief, and therefore does not succeed in its effort to strike votes and alter the certified winner of the 2020 presidential election.
– Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn writing for the majority in a decision against President Trump’s challenge of the Nov. 3 election results. He was joined in the decision by liberal justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky.

The majority does not bother addressing what the boards of canvassers did or should have done, and instead, four members of this court throw the cloak of laches over numerous problems that will be repeated again and again, until this court has the courage to correct them.  The electorate expects more of us, and we are capable of providing it.
– Chief Justice Pat Roggensack, in a dissent that was joined by fellow conservative Justices Annette Ziegler and Rebecca Bradley. “Laches” refers to an undue delay in bringing a case.