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Editorial: The Wisconsin Legislature has its own 'sedition caucus'

Editorial: The Wisconsin Legislature has its own 'sedition caucus'

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Supporters of Donald Trump gather on the S. Hamilton Street steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building to protest the election of Joe Biden.

After President Donald Trump incited a violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol in the deadly siege of Jan. 6, national commentators began referring to the Republican members of Congress who aligned themselves with Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election as the “sedition caucus.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin described the sedition caucus as including “those who signed the brief supporting the lawsuit that would disenfranchise millions of Americans; who raised baseless objections to Arizona or Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes; or who objected to impeaching President Trump.”

"The Sedition Caucus behaved in utterly irresponsible ways inconsistent with their oaths," Rubin wrote.

But the sedition caucus — which includes Wisconsin's U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Reps. Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany — is not just a congressional phenomenon.

The Wisconsin Legislature has a sedition caucus. Fifteen Wisconsin legislators signed a Jan. 5 letter calling on Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the 2020 presidential election results. The letter amplified the lies and conspiracy theories that were advanced by Trump and the rioters he incited as they sought to block the certification of Electoral College votes from states such as Wisconsin that had backed Joe Biden for president.

The Wisconsin legislators who signed the letter were state Reps. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls; Rob Brooks, R-Saukville; Rick Gundrum, R-Slinger, Cody Horlacher, R-Mukwonago; Dan Knodl, R-Germantown; Gae Magnafici, R-Dresser; Dave Murphy, R-Greenville; Jeff Mursau, R-Crivitz; Timothy Ramthun, R-Campbellsport; Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin; Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh; Shae Sortwell, R-Two Rivers; Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac; Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego. State Sen. André Jacque, R-De Pere, also signed on to the letter, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, called his colleagues out in appropriate terms.

“This letter calls for sedition, plain and simple,” Hintz said. “Making the same refuted claims 63 days after the election, and the day before the well-orchestrated coup led by the president, can only be viewed as part of the same dangerous threat. It should disgust all Wisconsinites that Republican state legislators attached their names to something so false and so dangerous. The words and actions of elected officials matter. The validation of baseless claims that echo President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election to stay in power contributed to the attack on our democracy.”

Hintz called for the removal of Reps. Brandtjen, Sanfelippo, Thiesfeldt and Murphy from the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee, which is expected to take up Republicans proposals to “reform” — a better word might be “mangle” — Wisconsin election laws in the new legislative session.

“The Speaker should remove these individuals from the Elections Committee immediately,” Hintz said. “Anyone using their elected position to promote the lie that the presidential election was stolen or reckless enough to call for sedition should be kept as far away from Wisconsin’s election laws as possible.”

That is an appropriate demand. If Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, does not honor it, his name should be added to the list of sedition caucus members.

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