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EVERS’ CABINET

DOA secretary Joel Brennan leaving post to join Greater Milwaukee Committee

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Joel Brennan, who was appointed by Gov. Tony Evers as secretary of the state Department of Administration three years ago, will step down from his post next month to take on a new role as president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

Evers announced Wednesday that Brennan, who was appointed as the Democratic governor’s top cabinet official in December 2018, will be leaving the administration on Jan. 17.

Despite being far outside the usually tornado season. Veuer’s Tony Spitz has the details.

“Secretary Brennan has been a part of my administration since the very beginning, and I want to thank him for his service to the people of Wisconsin over the last three years,” Evers said in a statement. “Especially over the last 19 months, the Department of Administration has been a critical partner in supporting our state and our economic recovery efforts, and I wish Secretary Brennan and his family all the best.”

In a news release posted by WisPolitics, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, an organization geared toward improving civic life and the economy in southeastern Wisconsin, announced Brennan as the committee’s next president.

As Evers’ top cabinet official, Brennan played a major role in the state budget process and helped negotiate the state’s new, smaller contract with Foxconn Technology Group for the southeastern Wisconsin project.

“I am grateful to Governor Evers for his trust throughout the last three years as he tasked the Department of Administration with executing his vision for what state government can and should do for the people we serve and for his support as we faced the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic as a department and a state,” Brennan said in a statement.

Evers also announced that current Department of Financial Institutions secretary Kathy Koltin Blumenfeld will take over the role of DOA secretary following Brennan’s departure. As part of the shift, DFI deputy secretary Cheryll Olson-Collins will take over as department secretary.

Brennan succeeds current GMC president Julia Taylor, who announced her retirement earlier this year after 19 years with the agency.

“Joel Brennan brings an incredibly unique skill set and track record of success in both the public and private sectors, all of which made him the strongest candidate to fill this role,” Gregory Wesley, co-chair of the GMC selection committee, said in a statement. “He’s well suited to advance the GMC’s mission of building better communities and improving the lives of all people in southeastern Wisconsin.”

The 2020 election is over. Here’s what happened (and what didn’t)

The 2020 election was “the most secure in American history,” according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which coordinates the nation’s election infrastructure.

While some voters risked going to prison by attempting to vote twice or in the name of a dead relative, as happens in any election, no evidence of widespread fraud has ever been produced in Wisconsin or elsewhere.

Yet, many continue to question some of the practices clerks relied on to encourage eligible voters to cast ballots and make sure their votes were counted amid the first election in more than 100 years held during a pandemic.

The Wisconsin State Journal has covered every twist and turn of this debate in scores of stories. But here are a few that offered some broader context about what happened, and didn't happen, in the election of 2020.

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The state has multiple, overlapping safeguards aimed at preventing ineligible voters from casting ballots, tampering with the ballots or altering vote totals.

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Nothing in the emails suggests there were problems with the election that contributed in any meaningful way to Trump's 20,682-vote loss to Joe Biden.

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"Despite concerns with statewide elections procedures, this audit showed us that the election was largely safe and secure," Sen. Rob Cowles said Friday.

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The grants were provided to every Wisconsin municipality that asked for them, and in the amounts they asked for. 

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"Application of the U.S. Department of Justice guidance among the clerks in Wisconsin is not uniform," the memo says.

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“To put it simply, we did not break the law,” the chair of the Elections Commission said.

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The memo states that state law gives the Audit Bureau complete access to all records during an audit investigation and federal law and guidance does not prohibit an election official from handing over election records.

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Drop boxes were used throughout Wisconsin, including in areas where Trump won the vast majority of counties.

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"I don't think that you instill confidence in a process by kind of blindly assuming there's nothing to see here," WILL president and general counsel Rick Esenberg said.

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