Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu tells WisPolitics that it is Republicans’ best legal strategy to acknowledge his chamber’s vote last month to oust Meagan Wolfe as the state’s top elections official was “symbolic”

GOP leaders made the admission in a court filing last week in response to a lawsuit by Dem AG Josh Kaul seeking an order barring the Legislature from seeking to remove Wolfe from her job as Elections Commission administrator.

It prompted some blowback after LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, told reporters in June he had received legal advice that Wolfe’s nomination was properly before the Senate despite others contending the commission had not reappointed her.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, yesterday distanced himself from the argument by the Legislature’s private attorneys, adding he’s asked to be removed from a lawsuit.

The state Elections Commission voted 3-0 in June to give Wolfe another four years in the job, with all three Dem members abstaining. They argued that left the commission short of the four votes needed for a nomination, and Wolfe can remain in the job indefinitely.

Vos called the case in Dane County Circuit Court “the Senate’s” lawsuit.

“The law is very clear in saying that you have to have four votes to appoint somebody,” he said, adding there is a process to allow the Joint Committee on Legislative Oversight to appoint an interim administrator 45 days after the Senate’s 22-11 vote to reject Wolfe’s confirmation.

Last week’s filing from the GOP attorneys also argued JCLO has no power to appoint an interim while Wolfe continues serving in the job.

The filing also argues the Wisconsin Elections Commission had a duty to appoint a new administrator after Wolfe’s term ended July 1. It asked for an order by Nov. 1 directing the commissioners to do that.

LeMahieu said he believes the Legislature’s best legal strategy is to focus on the argument the commission failed to adhere to the law.

“We think it’s our best legal advice,” he said in an interview after yesterday’s floor period.

Asked twice whether he agreed the Senate’s vote to fire Wolfe was “symbolic,” LeMahieu said the action showed the chamber has no confidence in Wolfe’s ability to do the job as the state’s top elections official.

Read the GOP counterclaim.

Read the answer to Kaul’s suit, which acknowledges the Senate vote was symbolic.

Read the motion for an expedited briefing schedule and a ruling by Nov. 1.

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