Wisconsin Elections Commissioner voting comments blasted

A Democratic member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission called Wednesday for a Republican member who bragged about GOP efforts to suppress votes in Milwaukee to resign from the bipartisan panel.

Commissioner Robert Spindell's comments sent in an email to Republicans in the 4th Congressional District were first reported on Tuesday by Urban Milwaukee. On Wednesday, fellow Commissioner Mark Thomsen, a Democratic attorney, said Spindell should step down from the six-member commission.

"My fellow commissioner Bob Spindell has shown he cannot be fair and should resign from the WEC," Thomsen tweeted.

Thomsen did not immediately return a message seeking additional comment. Spindell said in an email he could not immediately comment, but he did provide another email he sent to Republicans that similarly describes GOP successes in Milwaukee but describes it differently.

Thomsen and Spindell frequently clash on the commission, which oversees elections in Wisconsin. Spindell served as one of 10 fake Republican electors in Wisconsin who met and attempted to cast electoral votes for then-President Donald Trump following the 2020 election, even though he lost the state to Joe Biden.

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Spindell is a defendant in three separate pending lawsuits related to him serving as a fake GOP elector.

One in federal court seeks $2.4 million in damages from Spindell and the other fake electors, alleging that they were part of conspiracy by Trump to overturn the election. Another lawsuit in Dane County circuit court alleges that Spindell should have recused himself from a complaint filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission seeking action against the fake electors, of which Spindell was one. A third lawsuit alleged Spindell did not comply with the state open records law for documents requested related to his being a fake elector.

All of the lawsuits were brought by Law Forward, a liberal-backed Madison-based law firm.

Democrats made a concerted effort to increase turnout among non-white voters in Milwaukee in 2022. Republicans also worked to increase turnout, including opening offices in the Democratic stronghold that is home to the state's largest population of Black voters.

Democrats had mixed success in 2022, with Gov. Tony Evers winning reelection but Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson also winning. He narrowly defeated Mandela Barnes, who is from Milwaukee and was seeking to become the state's first Black senator.

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In the email, as quoted by Urban Milwaukee, Spindell, who is white, says that Republicans "can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas."

Spindell said the effort was due to a "well thought out multi-faceted plan."

Spindell provided The Associated Press with a similar email he said he sent to Republicans in the 4th Congressional District. That message also heralded the drop in voters in Milwaukee, but described it differently.

"The Democratic candidates were unable to obtain — even though they really tried hard — the votes they needed, expected and demanded from the Black Community," Spindell wrote. "There is still a great deal of much more concentrated work we need to do in the Black and Hispanic Communities by continuing to show how the Democratic Elected Officials and Candidates are not watching out for the livelihoods of the people who live in these areas and the Republicans can."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Devin Remiker called efforts to suppress Black and Hispanic votes in Milwaukee "repugnant" and also said Spindell isn't qualified to serve. Remiker called on Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu to rescind Spindell's appointment.

LeMahieu did not immediately return a message seeking comment.