A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers suggested a new reason communication between the governor’s office and legislative leadership has been lacking: sexism.
Amid a state budget season featuring little face-to-face communication between Evers and the two GOP leaders, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told Republicans at their annual state convention in Oshkosh Saturday the governor’s office simply isn’t offering them an outlet for communication.
“There’s no point person, there’s no one that reaches out to the Legislature on a regular basis,“ Fitzgerald said.
Republican leaders have complained for months that Evers won’t sit down with them as the state budget debate came to a head.
But Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff on Saturday said the governor has repeatedly told GOP leadership they should work with his chief of staff, Maggie Gau, just as they worked with Walker’s chief of staff during his time in office.
“That directive wasn’t confusing to them when the chief of staff was a man,” Baldauff said in a statement. “Vos and Fitzgerald are clearly uncomfortable or simply unwilling to work with a leadership team made up entirely of women.”
Fitzgerald and Vos pushed back firmly against the accusation.
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Vos on Twitter noted that his own chief of staff, Jenny Toftness, is a woman, as is his communications director, Kit Beyer, and policy director, Heather Smith.
Vos on the social media platform referred to Evers’ staff as “clueless,” and later told the Wisconsin State Journal Baldauff’s comments were disingenuous and dishonest.
“Obviously, Gov. Evers and his staff are feeling the pressure of of being irrelevant in the budget process, so rather than sitting down and talking with people, they resorted to name calling,” Vos said.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald in a statement also referred to influential Republican women to refute Baldauff’s claim.
“That is completely asinine,” Fitzgerald said. “The most powerful senator on the budget committee is a woman, and perhaps they’d know that if someone from the governor’s team was actually engaged in budget negotiations.”
Baldauff shot back later in the day on Twitter, writing that calling women “clueless” “is not a great response to claims of sexism.”