The state Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint a former aide to Tim Ramthun filed against Speaker Robin Vos for moving him to another office, rejecting the accusation that the speaker gained anything personally from the decision.
Vos, R-Rochester, in January stripped Ramthun of his only full-time staffer, telling WisPolitics.com he disciplined the Campbellsport Republican for lying about fellow GOP members and using taxpayer resources to put out political screeds as he pushed a series of allegations about the 2020 election.
Tristan Johannes filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission less than a week later, arguing Vos made the move to “remove a contributing source that was revealing his implication into the illegal actions surrounding the 2020 election.” Johannes also accused Vos of influencing Assembly leadership to release a statement justifying the action and accusing Ramthun’s office of putting out misinformation.
But the Ethics Commission last month found there was “no support offered” in Johannes’ complaint that “impeding or silencing a political critic is a substantial benefit.”
“Even assuming that there was reduced criticism of the Respondent, there is no way to know how political criticism is going to be received or impact the Respondent politically,” the commission wrote in its finding, which was approved June 15.
A Vos spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Johannes said he disagreed with the commission’s conclusion and charged Vos has shown a pattern over time of making moves for his own personal benefit.
“Everything he does is well calculated and coordinated to benefit himself,” Johannes said.
Johannes was moved to the office of Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, but resigned after the reassignment.
WisPolitics.com first reported on the complaint last month after obtaining legal bills showing Assembly GOP leaders had charged taxpayers $6,400 for private attorneys to represent Vos in the complaint.
The complaint cited statutes that bar public officials from using their office for personal gain and a substantial benefit. The commission found there was no indication of “what specific gain, thing of value, or benefit was obtained personally” by Vos and other allegations of a benefit were “speculative.”
Read the commission’s ruling here.