Friday, May 27, 2022
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Friday, May 27, 2022

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Michels Says He Wants to See if Wisconsin Election Commission Is Fixable, Splitting From Other GOP Candidates

In an interview with conservative talk radio host Joe Giganti, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels said that he wants to see if the Wisconsin Election Commission is fixable before deciding whether to get rid of it and implied he would work with Democrats to end “partisanship bickering” over the topic.

That’s one of the first deviations in policy among the candidates since Michels launched his bid for governor. Other GOP candidates for governor, Kevin Nicholson and Rebecca Kleefisch, have called for WEC to be abolished. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wants to keep the Commission intact.

Here’s the exchange on the “Regular Joe” show:

Giganti: “Now on the elections, uh, integrity question. So the, you can’t talk about it without the speaker of the assembly who has been a firebrand and not the best way. And he’s stuck in the middle of this, no matter how one cuts it. Uh, he has said that the, WEC should be kept. Do you, I mean, would you a first of all, would you abolish WEC?”

Michels: “… We need somebody that’s gonna bring in Robin Vos and Devin LeMahieu, and even the Democratic leaders and say enough of this partisanship bickering. We need to get stuff done because the victim is all the hardworking tax-paying people of Wisconsin. I’ll, I’ll look at at, WEC, let’s see, let’s see what’s going on there. If we can fix it as, as is, then let’s fix it as, as is. If it can’t be fixed, we’ll get rid of it. But at Michels Corporation, we just don’t throw something out the window right away because it’s not working. We gotta work hard to fix things.”

Michels also clarified on the show that he did not retire from the U.S. Army, despite direct mail that claimed otherwise. We received inquiries from readers questioning Michels’ retirement status with the military as advertised on campaign mailers. “If I said retired, that was in error,” Michels told Regular Joe.

Michels wisconsin election commission


 

He was asked by a listener to justify using the phrase “self-made man” when his father actually started the family business, Michels Corp. Michels said that his father literally worked himself to death, and he told Michels and his brothers to keep it all going. “And we’ve done that,” he said, saying he and his brothers have grown the company, successfully making a “generational transfer” and growing the business 35 times.

Election Integrity Comments

The partisan Wisconsin Election Commission chaired and vice-chaired by major Joe Biden donors, along with municipal clerks throughout Wisconsin, violated state law in numerous ways in the 2020 presidential election, according to a non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau report, which was released on October 22, 2021. Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, citing the “failure” of Attorney General Josh Kaul to investigate, recommended that the Racine County District Attorney file felony criminal charges against five members of the state of Wisconsin Election Commission. Several DAs have refused to charge them. Other decisions are pending.

Giganti also asked Michels about former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s widely discussed election integrity report. Michels said he had not read all of it.

Here’s that exchange:

Giganti: “Have you read the, the, the report that came from Michael Gableman, the end report? Have you read that yet?”

Michels: “It’s a very big report. I, haven’t read all of it.”

Giganti: “136 pages.”

Michels: “Yeah. I haven’t read all of it. I’ve read a lot of the summaries of it.”

He said Gableman should continue what he’s doing and that he has supported him. “We need to find out what happened in 2020,” Michel said.

Giganti also asked Michels, “Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen, yes or no?”

“I have a lot of questions… as do most people. Need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” Michels said.

“So is that a yes or a no?” Giganti asked,

“Maybe? There was certainly a lot of bad stuff that happened. I’m not sure that we’ll ever know,” Michels said.

[At his Milwaukee County office opening this weekend, we asked Michels his opinion about WEC and Sheriff Schmaling’s report on special voting deputies, and he indicated that he was against ballot harvesting, “Zucker bucks” and wanted to fix what is wrong in Wisconsin’s elections.]


On Other Republican Candidates

Asked why he decided to run, Michels said, “I like Becky, I like Kevin, and I like Tim Ramthun…” he said. “It’s not when you start, it’s how you finish.” He said people were waiting for an outsider, a veteran and a businessman.

Giganti asked whether Michels was stealing Nicholson’s brand. “I’m not stealing anyone’s brand. It’s who I am,” he said. “I’m not a career politician.” He said the country is on a “path to socialism.” He said Tony Evers has been a “weak leader.”

He was asked to name three GOP elected officials he would emulate. He named former Gov. Tommy Thompson and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. For the third person, he said candidates who ran for School Board in the spring cycle and town board.

Asked by a listener how he would relate to middle and low-income Wisconsinites as a result of his multi-million dollar houses in Connecticut and New York, he said, “talk to the people at Michels.” He said he is not a “fancy” guy and is down to earth. He said he was born and raised in Wisconsin and has been a resident of Wisconsin his entire life. “I did go out east….I’m a Wisconsinite through and through, and I can totally relate to people.”

He was asked about prevailing wage, he said, “We belonged to a lot of different construction associations.” He said that doesn’t mean they agree with those associations.

Asked what grade would he give Robin Vos, he said, “I don’t know if he’s reformable or not but we will try.” Maybe “with leadership maybe we can get him to a passing grade,” he said. He wouldn’t say whether Vos was failing when pushed, and he would not give Vos a grade.

Asked, “So you’re saying he’s failing,” Michels responded, “I’m not saying that Joe. I have great hope that his great hope his grade will improve.”

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Janel Brandtjen Dean Knudson

Wisconsin State Rep. Janel Brandtjen Blasts Out-Going WEC Commissioner

(The Center Square) – One of Wisconsin’s top critics of the 2020 election in the state is not staying silent about the resignation of one of Wisconsin’s Election Commissioners.

Commissioner Dean Knudson on Wednesday resigned his seat on the state’s Election Commission out of frustration with the continued focus on the last presidential vote in Wisconsin.

“Integrity demands acknowledging the truth even when the truth is painful. In this case, the painful truth is that President Trump lost the election in 2020 – lost the election in Wisconsin in 2020. And the loss was not due to election fraud,” Knudson said during Wednesday’s WEC meeting.

Knudson is a former Republican lawmaker, and helped create the Wisconsin Elections Commission back in 2015.

"I'll put my conservative record up against anyone in the state of Wisconsin, and yet now I've been branded a RINO," Knudson added, employing the acronym for Republican In Name Only.

But Republican state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, on Thursday questioned Knudson’s conservative bona fides.

“Wisconsin Election Commissioner Dean Knutson resigned yesterday citing lack of support from the GOP. He blamed conspiracy theories and misinformation about the 2020 election, but in reality, he simply didn’t do his job, which was to oversee the agency that Wisconsinites depend on for fair and honest elections,” Brandtken said.

Brandtjen has led one of the investigations into the 2020 election from her Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections since early 2021.

Brandtjen said Knudson allowed:

Bloated voter rolls to continue.Madison’s Democracy in the Park"Over $8 million in Zuckerberg money for targeted "get out the vote’ efforts.Ballot trafficking and drop boxes.Illegal suspension of special voting deputies, knowingly.WEC lawsuits against Justice Gableman and Brandtjen instead of cooperating with the investigations.

“Stripping our elections of the safety measures the legislature has put into statute is not what we expect from the Elections Commission; in fact, we expect the exact opposite,” Brandtjen added.

Knudson’s resignation means Republicans will have to appoint another commissioner. That search is underway.

His resignation also came as Commissioner Bob Spindell, who is a vocal 2020 election critic, is set to take over as commission chairman. That vote was supposed to happen Wednesday, but has now been postponed.

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Marissa Darlingh

Milwaukee School Counselor Under DPI Investigation For Opposition to Transgender Ideology

(The Center Square) – An elementary school counselor from Milwaukee is refusing to resign or change her mind about gender identity, even after the state opened an investigation that could cost her her job.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction sent Marissa Darlingh a letter on April 29, explaining that she was under investigation for what she said at a rally in Madison just six days before.

“DPI has opened an investigation to determine whether to initiate educator license revocation proceedings against you,” the letter stated. “It has been alleged that you engaged in immoral conduct.”

Darling was one of several speakers at a feminist rally in Madison on April 23 where she used a commonly expressed profanity repeatedly as she discussed transgenderism.

“I oppose gender ideology ever entering the walls of my school building,” Darling said. “Over my dead ... body will my students be exposed to the heart of gender identity ideology. Not a single one of my students under my ... watch will ever, ever transition socially, and sure as hell not medically.”

DPI’s letter said the investigation will “determine if there is probable cause to support allegations of immoral conduct.”

DPI gave Darlingh the option to resign ahead of the investigation, but Darlingh opted instead to fight.

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sent a letter to DPI that promises a lawsuit if the state tries to suspend Darlingh’s license because of her opposition to transgenderism or her use of profanity.

“The state is, quite simply, trying to punish a public-school counselor for her views on gender ideology. This is a classic, clear-cut, violation of the First Amendment and the state can expect a federal lawsuit if it proceeds,” WILL’s Luke Berg said.

Darling said she will not back down, and will not change her mind about transgenderism even after the investigation is complete.

“My views on the harms of gender ideology to children are informed by a desire to serve and protect children,” Darling said in a statement. “That’s why I got into education. I will love and serve every child under my care, no matter what. But I won’t recant under threat from the state.”

RNC 2024

Liberal Groups & Labor Unions Want Milwaukee to Reject RNC 2024 Bid

(The Center Square) – A number of Wisconsin’s progressive advocates and big labor unions want Milwaukee to abandon plans to host the Republican National Convention because they don’t like Republicans’ politics.

Voces de la Frontera Action, Power to the Polls, the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Never Again is Now, and SEIU all signed on to an open letter Tuesday asking Milwaukee’s city council to reject a contract that would be necessary for Milwaukee to host the RNC in 2024.

“We the undersigned community organizations want to send a clear message to city, county and state leaders: the Republican National Convention is not welcome in Milwaukee,” the groups wrote. “The Republican Party, both nationally and in Wisconsin, has become an organization that supports White Supremacists, the violent attempted coup at the US Capitol to overthrow a democratic election, and continues to engineer new ways to undermine fair and democratic elections.”

The open letter comes as city leaders in Milwaukee are set to vote on the RNC contract on Wednesday.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson on Tuesday said the city can host the Republican convention without endorsing the Republican Party’s political views.

"I think that the RNC presents a tremendous opportunity for us in Milwaukee," Johnson told reporters. "I think it presents a great opportunity for Milwaukee to be in the national conversation, to be a city that other large conventions and other large events look to. I want the RNC to be the bedrock for a new and stronger convention and tourism economy that we can build here in the city of Milwaukee."

Johnson said his support for the RNC is a “business decision.”

CJ Szafir with the Institute for Reforming Government said the opposition is “on-brand” from progressives and big labor in the state

“It's terribly disappointing that progressive and labor groups are opposed to Milwaukee hosting an event that could bring up to 45,000 visitors to the city, creating as much as $200 million in economic impact. This would directly benefit Milwaukee small businesses and workers, which ironically is who these groups claim to care about,” Szafir told The Center Square. “A political convention is one of the great American historic events and to have the RNC come to Milwaukee in 2024 would give Milwaukee the global spotlight that it deserves. This should get bipartisan support.”

Milwaukee and Nashville, Tennessee are the final two cities in the running for hosting the RNC in 2024. A decision on the winning city is expected later this summer.

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Stock Market Flirts With Bear Market; Americans Fear Recession

(The Center Square) – The stock market came back from a midday drop on Friday, the day ending with the S&P 500 Index 18.6% below the record high set in early January.

A bear market would have begun if the decline reached 20%.

The stock market tumble is a continuation from declines earlier this week, a week that saw record high gas prices continue to rise. Other contributing factors in the index most closely associated with workers 401(k) accounts are rising interest rates, inflation, the war in Ukraine and China's economy.

“Since 1928, the S&P 500 has had 1 bear market every 4 years on average,” Charlie Bilello, founder of Compound Capital Advisors, wrote on Twitter. “With the S&P down 20% from its peak in January, this is now the 3rd bear market we've experienced in less than 4 years.”

New polling shows the majority of Americans expect a recession as energy prices and inflation continue to soar. Quinnipiac University released new polling this week that showed most Americans are pessimistic about the nation’s economic future.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans (85 percent) think it is either very likely (45 percent) or somewhat likely (40 percent) that there will be an economic recession in the next year, while 12 percent think it is either not so likely (8 percent) or not likely at all (4 percent),” the poll said.

Overall, Americans did not think the economy was doing well before the stock market declines this week.

“Roughly 1 in 5 Americans (19 percent) say the state of the nation's economy these days is either excellent (2 percent) or good (17 percent), while 4 in 5 Americans (80 percent) say it's either not so good (34 percent) or poor (46 percent),” the poll reported. “This is Americans' most negative description of the state of the nation's economy in a Quinnipiac University poll since President Biden took office.”

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Justice Clarence Thomas: ‘We Are in Danger of Destroying The Institutions … Required For a Free Society’

(The Center Square) – It’s been two weeks and there’s still no word on who leaked the U.S. Supreme Court draft brief indicating that the court was set to overturn Roe V. Wade and returning the issue of abortion back to the states.

At a recent event in Dallas, Texas, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Manhattan Institute, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke about the leak and his concern for the rule of law and credibility of the court.

A roughly 8-minute clip of his talk was published by C-SPAN, in which he said, “I think we are in danger of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society. You can’t have a civil society, a free society without a stable legal system.

“You can’t have one without stability in things like property or interpretation and impartial judiciary. I’ve been in this business long enough to know just how fragile it is.”

Prior to the draft opinion being leaked this year, Thomas said it was impossible to think that even one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone.

“No one would ever do that,” he said. “There’s such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, belief in what we were doing, that that was beyond anyone’s understanding or at least anyone's imagination, that someone would do that.”

Now, “look where we are,” he said. “That trust and belief is gone forever. When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It's like kind of an infidelity, that you can explain it, but you can't undo it.”

New York University professor Melissa Murray holds a similar sentiment. She told the New York Times last week that the leak “violates the omertà that traditionally has shrouded the court’s deliberations. To the public, this not only looks like the kind of maneuvering that we’ve come to expect from politicians, it also strips the court of the mystique it has generally enjoyed.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts’ reputation is also at stake. He has a lot riding on whether or not the leaker is identified and punished, Dan McLaughlin at National Review Online notes.

“John Roberts’s Court is at stake here,” he argues. “If decisions can be leaked in draft form with impunity in order to influence their outcomes, this will become a regular feature of high-profile cases, placing the Court under even worse pressures and threats than already exist.”

The Supreme Court isn’t the only institution that’s changing, Thomas said. Universities, colleges, law schools have all changed over the last few decades. Today, the climate on most campuses doesn’t allow for peaceful debate of differing views, instead policies of censorship are creating a “chilling effect” on speech.

He recently met with students attending the University of Georgia, where he said students expressed that they can’t publicly affirm pro-life or traditional family views because of the climate on campus.

At Yale Law School, his alma mater, students could once freely speak about anything, “it was anything goes, you do your thing I do my thing,” he said. Now. there’s censorship, he said.

"I wonder how long we're going to have these institutions at the rate we're undermining them,” Thomas said. “And then I wonder when they're gone or they are destabilized, what we'll have as a country – and I don't think that the prospects are good if we continue to lose them."

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Biden’s DHS Disinformation Governance Board Paused After Blowback

(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden's Department of Homeland Security "Disinformation Governance Board" has been put on hold after quickly falling into controversy, according to media reports.

The Washington Post on Wednesday reported a pause for the board, which DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas announced at a Congressional hearing last month.

Mayorkas told lawmakers the board would use federal law enforcement power to address disinformation. He gave the examples of bad information given to migrants as well as Russian disinformation.

"The goal is to bring the resources of (DHS) together to address this threat," he said before Congress in April.

Soon after, videos emerged online showing the woman tapped to lead the board, Nina Jankowicz, making a series of controversial comments. News outlets reported her resignation Wednesday.

Critics also raised concerns about how such a board could be used to silence free speech. Several lawmakers took issue with the board.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., posted a video on Twitter saying the “Soviet-style censorship agency” is evidence “the Marxist left are coming after your most basic constitutional rights.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but the Department of Homeland Security just set up a new office that’s going to be a speech police,” Rubio said after the board was announced. "They’re basically going to be focused on misinformation … so instead of the Department of Homeland Security focused on stopping drugs from coming into America or securing the border, stopping illegal immigration, they’re not going to be focused on that. They’re focused on policing speech, on making sure that people cannot share information or say things that they decide is misinformation."

Bear Market Walmart Earnings

Stocks Tank After Target & Walmart Earnings Plummet Because of Rising Fuel Costs, Inflation

(The Center Square) – Stocks tanked Wednesday after major retailers’ earnings reports were down significantly because of inflation, sparking a selling frenzy. Wall Street closed with the largest drop in one day since March 2020.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average drop of nearly 1,200 points was the ninth-largest single-day drop in U.S. history, Seeking Alpha reports.

The stock market began to tank by midday. By noon EST, NASDAQ was down 400 points and the DJIA was down by 800 points. Then the DJIA dropped by roughly 1,100 points after 2pm EST and closed with a near 1,200-point loss.

The market closed with the DJIA down by 3.6%, the S&P 500 down by 4% and the Nasdaq down by 4.7%.

Overall, the DJIA dropped 1,164.52 points, closing at 31,490.07. The S&P 500 dropped 165.17 points, closing at 3,923.68. The Nasdaq dropped 566.37 points, closing at 11,418.15.

Panic set in after major retail corporations like Target and Walmart reported earnings losses. Apple and Microsoft also led big tech losses.

Target shares were down by nearly 25% after reporting first-quarter results that fell far below Wall Street forecasts. Its second-quarter outlook was also weaker than expected with its quarterly gross margin dropping from 30% to 25.7%.

“We were less profitable than we expected to be or intend to be over time,” Target Chief Executive Brian Cornell said, Reuters reported. “These (costs) continue to grow almost on a daily basis and there is no sign right now … that it is going to abate over time.”

Rising fuel and freight costs will add nearly $1 billion more than originally expected in annual cost, Target said.

Wal-Mart stock fell nearly 7% after it also reported a weaker-than-expected financial outlook. It also said it was grappling with rising fuel costs and inflation eating into its profits.

Apple stock fell 5.6%, Intel lost 4.6%, Microsoft lost nearly 5% and HP dropped 7%.

Companies reporting earnings losses cited rising fuel and freight costs as primary factors.

These, coupled with supply chain issues, caused transportation costs to skyrocket in the first quarter. While companies passed on increased costs to consumers, consumers weren’t buying enough to offset company losses.

“Worries over inflation and a hawkish Fed are nothing new, but now add in worries over profit margins and the impact of inflation on the consumer and you have the recipe for a big down day,” Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, said, The Hill reported.

Normally, a drop in consumer demand would force companies to drop prices and subsequently reduce inflation. But supply chain issues, coupled with Biden administration energy policies restricting domestic production of oil and gas, are leading causes of prices skyrocketing across the board.

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