- Agent Blondy
Someone pissed off more than an attorney in the Green Bay election investigation.
MADISON WI - The first hearing into just what happened inside Green Bay’s election office in November of 2020 has raised more questions.
Wednesday’s hearing brought together people who watched the November election in Green Bay...
Those people testified that outside activists, including former Democratic operative Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, essentially ran Green Bay’s vote count. A report at Wisconsin Spotlight dives deeper into Spitzer-Ribenstein’s involvement and influence in Green Bay last fall.
“I think the question we have now is, did the Wisconsin Elections Commission know the level of work that was being done by these outside groups?” State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, said after Wednesday’s hearing.
“[The groups’] emails speak to their coordination, and not only with poll workers, and giving advice, and working with Milwaukee. The WEC clearly told them what their limits were. And from everything we’ve seen in the mails and the testimony, [the groups] went beyond that.”
Brandjten said one of the questions after Wednesday’s hearing at the Capitol is whether Wisconsin should ban local governments from taking outside money for elections. Spitzer-Ribenstein’s group was paid with a $1.6 million grant from Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Tech and Civic Life.
“We as a state need to make that determination,” Brandtjen said. “Because last year it was a Democratic group, next year it could be a Republican group. We want to make sure that when people go to the ballot box they know that it is a transparent and fair process.”
Brandtjen said there will be more hearings into what happened in Green Bay, and didn’t rule out issuing subpoenas. She said Republicans at the Capitol will need some time to digest the rest of the story from Green Bay, and to see who needs to come and testify next.
Source: GMToday.com, article by Benjamin Young dated 3.11.2021
Spitzer-Rubenstein was the Wisconsin head of the left-wing National Vote at Home Institute, and has worked for several Democrat Party candidates. The Democrat mayor’s office gave the liberal activist access to Green Bay’s absentee ballots just days before the election.
The Wisconsin Spotlight’s report has prompted several Wisconsin lawmakers to call for the resignation of Green Bay’s mayor, and for an investigation into the city’s handling of the November presidential election.
According to the report, the emails show that Green Bay’s “highly partisan” Democrat Mayor Eric Genrich and his staff usurped city Clerk Kris Teske’s authority and let the Zuckerberg-funded “grant team” take over in “a clear violation of Wisconsin election statutes.”
And the liberal groups were improperly insinuating themselves into the election system and coordinating with what became known as the “Wisconsin 5,” the state’s five largest communities that split more than $6 million in Zuckerberg money.
The agreement Green Bay and the other members of the “Wisconsin 5” signed “was all about getting the money with conditions, and inviting private corporations [left-wing election groups] to get the election administration they wanted,” Erick G. Kaardal, Special Counsel for the Thomas More Society, stated during the hearing, Wednesday.
Spitzer-Rubenstein, according to Wisconsin Spotlight, was allowed to essentially become “the de facto city elections chief.” “If the city clerk doesn’t run them there’s no transparency in the elections,” Kaardal testified.
The documents show that Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske initially resisted Spitzer-Rubenstein’s efforts to correct or “cure” absentee ballots returned to her office, but eventually, amidst an intense pressure campaign, gave up. “Can we help with curing absentee ballots that are missing a signature or witness signature address?” Spitzer-Rubenstein wrote to Teske in an Oct. 7 email.
“While the Wisconsin Elections Commission permitted clerks to fix absentee ballot errors or omissions, it didn’t say former Democratic Party operatives could ‘help,’” the Wisconsin Spotlight pointed out. “The city clerk declined Spitzer-Rubenstein’s offer.”
The Democrat mayor’s office then began to pressure and bully staffers in the Clerks Office, reducing them to tears and leading several of them to seek new jobs.
“The grant mentors would like to meet with you to discuss, further, the ballot curing process. Please let them know when you’re available,” Celestine Jeffreys, Genrich’s chief of staff, wrote to Teske.
Spitzer-Rubenstein argued that the National Vote at Home Institute had cured ballots before, and thus had a “process” to do so. “We have a process map that we’ve worked out with Milwaukee for their process. We can also adapt the letter we’re sending out with rejected absentee ballots along with a call script alerting voters (We can also get people to make the calls, too, so you don’t need to worry about it.).”
Teske, at this point, seemed to be losing her patience — and control of her office, the documents show. Several emails show the city clerk’s growing frustration with the mayor, his chief of staff, the city’s ad hoc elections committee, and the nonprofit interlopers who were making themselves at home in Green Bay election administration.
“As you know I am very frustrated, along with the Clerk’s Office. I don’t know what to do anymore. I am trying to explain the process but it isn’t heard. I don’t feel I can talk to the Mayor after the last meeting you, me, Celestine, and the Mayor had even though the door is supposedly open,” the city clerk wrote to Green Bay Finance Director Diana Ellenbecker in late August. “I don’t understand how people who don’t have knowledge of the process can tell us how to manage the election.”
On Oct. 22, things apparently reached a boiling point. Teske told Ellenbecker that two members of the clerk’s staff wanted to quit, and another was looking for a new job. They were being ignored or bullied by the mayor’s office.
“They call me crying or they say they went home crying,” the clerk said.
Teske wondered if the grant team consultants understood Wisconsin election law. “I also asked when these people from the grant give us advisors who is go [sic] to be determining if there [sic] opinion is legal or not,” she wrote in an email to Ellenbecker on July 9. “Every state has different election laws. And this group is from Illinois. They already should have pointed out that additional in-person early voting sites can’t happen because the deadline has passed.”
Eventually, Teske could take no more. On October 22, she wrote in an email she was taking a leave of absence. By the end of the year she had officially resigned to take a similar position with the nearby community of Ashwaubenon.
In Teske’s absence, it appears Spitzer-Rubenstein and his team ramped up their involvement in the upcoming election. The state leader for the National Vote at Home Institute seemed to be everywhere, leading just about every aspect of Green Bay’s election administration.
“Are the ballots going to be in trays/boxes within the bin? I’m at KI now, trying to figure out whether we’ll need to move the bins throughout the day or if we can just stick them along the wall and use trays or something similar to move the ballots between stations,” Spitzer-Rubenstein wrote in an email to city liaison Amaad Rivera two days before the election.
The documents show a city official, after talking with someone from the National Vote at Home Institute, “brainstorming” about how the city could livestream the Central Count at city hall “so that (election observers) do not enter the building.”
The Central Count ended up being at the KI Convention Center at Green Bay’s Hyatt Regency due to “space limitations and COVID-19 concerns” at City Hall.
While Spitzer-Rubenstein was given the keys to the room where the absentee ballots were stored, a Hyatt Regency checklist instructed staff “DO NOT UNLOCK GRAND BALLROOM UNTIL Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein IS WITH SECURITY WHEN UNLOCKING THE GRAND BALLROOM DOORS.”
According to former Brown County Clerk Sandy Juno, who retired from the post in early January, the contract stipulated that Spitzer-Rubenstein could have four of the five keys to the KI Center’s ballroom — “several days before the election.”
“The city of Green Bay literally gave the keys to the election to a Democratic Party operative from New York,” Wisconsin Spotlight noted.
A poll watcher testified Wednesday that Spitzer-Rubenstein was constantly talking on his phone, or working on his laptop during her entire shift on Election Day. She said she observed what looked like an Excel spreadsheet on his laptop.
Kaardal, another fact witness at the hearing, presented several slides summing up how Democrat politicians took control of the election apparatus in Green Bay in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Green Bay City Clerk "Kris Teske stands out as an elections administration superhero." – Attorney Erick Kaardal, testifying that Teske tried to stand up to the takeover of the elections by the mayor's office and private left-leaning groups. #wiright #wipolitics
— Empower Wisconsin (@EmpowerWi) March 10, 2021 "It’s a mess and a menace. The lack of ideals was they weren't following the laws and it's a mess because it was implemented very poorly." – Attorney Erick Kaardal testifying about the many problems surrounding Green Bay's November election administration. #wiright#wipolitics
— Empower Wisconsin (@EmpowerWi) March 10, 2021Wisconsin State Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) reportedly called for Mayor Genrich’s resignation, arguing that Wisconsin Spotlight’s investigation “shows a coordinated effort between Mayor Genrich, his Chief-of-Staff Celestine Jeffreys, and democratic operatives to influence the 2020 elections in Green Bay.”
“We cannot allow partisan actors to unduly influence elections in Wisconsin and this is evidence that Mayor Genrich not only allowed that to happen in Green Bay, but that he ceded his responsibility to safeguard the integrity of our elections to an outside, partisan organization and I am calling on him to resign from office immediately,” Roth said in a statement.
Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie), chair of the Senate Committee on Elections, Election Process Reform and Ethics, sent a letter to Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul calling for a full investigation into the “potential violations” that occurred during the election.
Bernier also said Genrich’s “lack of leadership and unforgivable meddling” made Green Bay’s spring elections last April a “fiasco on the national scene.”
She was referencing the mayor’s decision to not use trained National Guard workers to help at the polls amid the initial outbreak of the pandemic. The city reduced Green Bay’s polling sites to just two, causing long voter lines and wait times.
“Unable to learn from his mistakes, Mayor Genrich and his staff deliberately, forcefully, and repeatedly interfered in November’s election administration. Is that why Green Bay’s Clerk and Deputy Clerk resigned?,” Bernier said. “He has shown himself unfit as an executive and should himself resign immediately from the position of Mayor of Green Bay.”
State Sen. Eric Wimberger (R-Green Bay),urged Brown County District Attorney David Lasee to examine whether “these allegations were part of any sort of pay-for-play scheme.”
“Every American should have confidence in how their elections are run. This massive abuse of power significantly damages that trust, and we must ensure that situations like this cannot occur in the future,” Wimberger said in a statement.
“I’m still shaking my head that the keys were given to someone who was not a municipal employee,” Juno testified at the hearing. “It doesn’t smell right.”
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