Former GOP state Rep. Dean Knudson defended his conservative record as he announced his resignation from the Elections Commission because he no longer believes he can be effective as a Republican member of the body.
Knudson has repeatedly said there wasn’t widespread fraud in Wisconsin’s 2020 election and defended how the Elections Commission administered the race.
He said that’s led to charges he’s a RINO — Republican In Name Only — for his willingness to tell the truth about Donald Trump’s loss.
Knudson’s departure once a replacement is in place upended the process to pick a new chair of the body, pushing off a decision until next month.
Fellow Republican appointee Bob Spindell, who has been openly campaigning to become chair, pushed the commission Wednesday to move ahead with a vote. But the commission voted 5-1 to put off a vote until its June 10 hearing.
“It really comes because my two core values are to practice service above self and to display personal integrity,” Knudson said. “To me, that integrity means telling the truth even when that truth is painful.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who appointed Knudson and will pick his replacement, didn’t immediately return a call after Wednesday’s late afternoon meeting seeking comment.
Under commission rules, the next chair must be a Republican after Dem Ann Jacobs served in the role for the past two years. The clerks who serve on the six-member commission aren’t eligible. That leaves Spindell or Knudson’s replacement as the only two who could serve in the role.
Spindell again said Wednesday he wants the job. After Knudson announced his resignation, Spindell read a statement laying out his case for why he believes he should be the next chair, including his contention that his leadership would restore confidence in the commission and clear up doubts about its work.
Appointing a new chair requires four votes from the commission, which is split evenly between Dem and GOP appointees. Spindell has often clashed with Dem appointees. He also was one of 10 electors who signed papers falsely claiming Trump won Wisconsin instead of Joe Biden. Spindell has defended the move as part of a legal strategy to keep Trump’s options open as he sought unsuccessfully to overturn the election results.
That could make it difficult for Spindell to win the support of one of the commission’s Dems. That would leave Vos’ new appointee as the only other option. State law is silent on what would happen if the commission deadlocked on a new chair.
Spindell noted last night on Twitter that Knudson sided with Dems in pushing back the chair election.
“But Repub of WI not going to stand for any Fake Repub Chair selected by Dems. Still running for Chair of Elec Comm! #BobSled,” Spindell tweeted.
Knudson helped author the law abolishing the Government Accountability Board and creating the Elections and Ethics commissions. He’s also become the focus of ire for some Republicans over his vocal defense of the commission and administration of the 2020 election. That includes his various statements refuting the false claims by Trump of widespread fraud in Wisconsin.
He also is one of five commissioners that the Racine County sheriff recommended face felony charges after the body voted to suspend a requirement that local clerks send special voting deputies to nursing homes before sending absentee ballots to residents who request them. The move was taken during the COVID-19 pandemic as various nursing homes declined to allow various people inside the facilities for fear of spreading the virus among their elderly populations.
Knudson said he wasn’t interested in becoming chair after serving in the role previously. He also suggested Republicans had made clear they didn’t want him to serve in the role.
“It’s been made clear to me from the highest level of the Republican Party of Wisconsin that there’s a deep desire that I not be the chair. That’s fine,” Knudson said without offering specifics.