According to an Elections Commission complaint filed March 17, 2022, in the State of Wisconsin, the mayor and city clerk of Madison, Wisconsin, were involved in election bribery. Thomas More Society attorneys acted on behalf of a Madison, Wisconsin, voter in filing an election bribery complaint against Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl on behalf of the citizen alleging that they accepted private funds from the Center for Tech and Civic Life in exchange for in-person and absentee voting services.
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The complaint comes following legislation passed by 16 states that prohibit or regulates the acceptance and use of private funds by public election officials. Lawyers from The Thomas More Society have successfully litigated this issue in eight states. There have been laws introduced in Arizona and Texas addressing this issue, and in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, legislation has been passed, but the laws have been vetoed by Democrat governors.
A bill has been passed by three other states, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Carolina, to regulate such conduct and those bills are currently awaiting enactment. The state of Wisconsin has several counties passing or considering bans on so-called “dark money” in elections, including Walworth County and Brown County.
Rhodes-Conway and Witzel-Behl were alleged to have entered into an agreement with the Center for Tech and Civic Life, an organization that promotes in-person and absentee voting in Madison, which was in violation of Wisconsin law. The Center for Civic Life is a non-profit organization based in Chicago led by former Democratic political activists, and funded by former Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, as part of their effort to influence the 2020 election.
The complaint followed one filed against Kenosha, alleging that the Center for Tech and Civic Life violated election law and bribed election officials. In addition, the first round of Wisconsin Election Commission complaints brought by Thomas More Society attorneys on behalf of groups of private citizens also included allegations against Kenosha, Racine, Green Bay, and Milwaukee.
The complaint, according to Thomas More Society Special Counsel Erick Kaardal, describes a massive scheme conducted by the Center for Tech and Civic Life, aimed at controlling the election, a traditional function of government. By dumping private money into the municipal election process under the guise of COVID-19 prevention, the Center for Tech and Civic Life handed control of the 2020 Wisconsin election to private partisan interests.
“We can’t undo the wrongs of the 2020 election,” Kaardal stated, “But it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the corruption that infected Wisconsin’s voting process is rooted out and that the state’s election integrity is preserved. Wisconsin’s voters deserve to know the truth and they need to be assured that the snakes in the grass have been hunted down and eliminated, allowing for fair and honest elections from this point forward.”
According to the complaint, the Center for Tech and Civic Life persuaded the city officials of Wisconsin’s five largest cities to agree to “gift” or “grant” agreements for monies that had been billed as COVID-19 response grants. As evidenced by the filing, the self-identified “Wisconsin 5” contracted with partners who were not health or medical experts in order to implement Wisconsin Safe Voting. Despite the grant contracts’ requirement for this plan to be implemented, the process was in fact outsourced to partisan experts in “election administration.”
Wisconsin prohibits anyone from using money to entice a voter to vote, and according to the complaint, the Center for Tech and Civic Life presented these large sums of money to Madison, and the other Wisconsin 5 municipalities, for this very purpose. According to the complaint, there were other irregularities under the illegal agreement, including the access to voter data by nongovernment groups, the redesign of voter instruction materials, targeting of selected demographic groups for voter recruitment, and the placement of “voter navigators” to assist voters. In the future, these “voter navigators” would become elections inspectors.
“That means the very people who assisted voters in casting their ballots were the ones responsible for safeguarding those ballots – that’s equivalent of sending the foxes to guard the henhouse,” declared Kaardal.
“The evidence in this complaint is overwhelming and condemning,” Kaardal added. “Even on the surface, given all benefit of doubt, there is no question that Mayor Rhodes-Conway and Clerk Witzel-Behl accepted private money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life to facilitate in-person and absentee voting in Madison. This is in violation of Wisconsin election law.”
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“The actions of Madison’s mayor and city clerk, along with city officials in Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, and Green Bay should outrage Wisconsin voters,” Kaardal continued. There have been complaints filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission against each of the Wisconsin 5 municipalities.
“Voting is a privilege, paid for with the price of freedom,” Kaardal declared. “It is not something to be sold to the highest bidder. This mayor and city clerk traded away the rights of voters to participate in a free and fair election. They exchanged freedom for cash, selling off control of Wisconsin’s 2020 election to a well-funded coalition of special interest groups. That’s election bribery, pure and simple – and it’s wrong.”