State Sen. Ellis calling it quits, recognizes "toll" on family

MADISON (WITI/AP) — Republican Senate President Mike Ellis will not seek re-election this fall, following the release of a secretly recorded video in which he discusses an illegal campaign finance scheme.

Ellis's spokesman, Scott Kelly, confirmed Friday, April 11th that Ellis was dropping out, marking the end of a 44-year legislative career.

"Instead of being criticized by our own opponents, independent thought is attacked by our own backyard. I see that compromise is not valued in today's capitol environment, and that means I don't fit in any more," said Ellis in a statement.

Ellis's decision to drop out comes just two days after the release of a secret recording by Project Veritas, a national organization led by conservative activist James O'Keefe.

"We are not tuned in, at my age, to a new era of politics. We think the guy is a constituent because that's the way we grew up and I'm not blaming anybody," said Ellis.

In the video, recorded two weeks ago, Ellis talks about creating a super PAC to spend money attacking his Democratic opponent, State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber.

Democratic Senator Chris Larson says it's evident that Republicans are moving further to the right, leaving no room for the more moderate Ellis.

"You're seeing this all throughout Republican politics where somebody who's more middle of the road, somebody who's more able to talk to people on the other side, is just not acceptable for them," said Larson.

However, Republican Senator Alberta Darling dismisses the idea, saying there's plenty of room for disagreement within the party.

"If we get to that point where we can't disagree because we philosophically disagree, or whether our district puts us in a different position, then we're not as much benefit to our districts," said Darling.

Both senators say it's undeniable that, in this age, lawmakers always have to watch what they're saying because someone can easily be recording you.

For his part, Ellis said earlier in the week that he didn't know such a separate fund would be illegal, and once he found out, he dropped the idea.

Ellis was set to run against Schaber in the upcoming election.

CLICK HERE to read the entire statement from Mike Ellis.