GOP Assembly write-in candidate Adam Steen secretly recorded dozens of phone calls with top Republicans and campaign staffers, including former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman and GOP legislators, Wisconsin Right Now has learned.
Steen called voters swayed by a Trump endorsement “stupid,” labeled his campaign volunteers “dumbasses,” referred to females as emotional, laughed at a menstruation joke, and schemed with legislators, Gableman, and up north GOP county parties to oust Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. “Put out there that Robin Vos is a lying sack of shit,” he said to a woman doing his social media.
“I would stamp the word liar in red on his (Vos’s) face,” Gableman suggested as the pair strategized in one recording about how to help Steen’s bid to defeat Vos this November. Steen also spoke with a volunteer about getting Project Veritas’s founder James O’Keefe to interview Gableman. Steen told a volunteer that Gableman “asked me if he could talk directly to Veritas.”
Multiple members of Steen’s campaign team dramatically quit in late September 2022 after Steen gave campaign volunteers access to the recordings.
Now we can tell you why: They discovered that he had disparaged them – and voters who would be influenced by a Trump endorsement – in the calls. And they grew deeply concerned about behavior around campaign finance laws.
In an unusual exchange in one call, a campaign volunteer told Steen that she was ordered to wrap her phone in aluminum foil before meeting with Gableman. When two Steen staffers set up the meeting, “we were told…we couldn’t know the location of the meeting and that our phones had to be in Farady bags or Farady cases or wrapped in aluminum foil,” she says in the recording. That’s why “my phone was consumed in aluminum when we got there.” Farady bags and cases block wireless and electromagnetic communication and signals.
Adam Steen said he believed Vos should be in jail in one recording. Vos has drawn the ire of Trump, Steen, and others, primarily for his refusal to decertify the 2020 presidential election.
Gableman called the New York Democratic Attorney General’s investigation into Trump a “f*cking criminal thing.”
Gableman said he spoke with Trump while on the train back from Chicago. “He knew about that. He knew about that. For the first time, he just sounded a little tired,” he claimed, calling Trump “amazing. He’s just amazing.”
“DeSantis has all the charm and personality of a robot. He’s not going to be the savior of anyone, of any party,” added Gableman.
Steen’s harshest words were for the women who were toiling away in the trenches for his campaign, working for free. Steen called one campaign volunteer “a f*cking control freak” and said he was “dealing with idiots.” He referred to volunteers as “mothertruckers,” an apparently nicer way of saying motherf*ckers.
Steen also disparaged Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, who is highly regarded by conservatives. “He was a dickhead,” he said in a recording. He said Schmaling told him: “I’m the sheriff, and I don’t have time for this stuff.”
Steen, who was dramatically endorsed by Trump in the GOP primary, said voters who vote based on Trump’s endorsement are “stupid.”
“We just have stupid voters. I mean like seriously that’s the unfortunate fact. Like the reason that the Trump endorsement would be such a big deal is-” a campaign volunteer told Adam Steen.
“-is for the stupid voters, ah, wow,” interjected Steen, appearing to agree.
“-because people solely base their vote on Trump’s endorsement,” continued the volunteer. They discussed how some voters put signs in their yards for Vos without realizing Vos is their representative.
Steen also recorded phone conversations with Republican legislators Janel Brandtjen and Chuck Wichgers, as well as GOP county officials from other parts of the state, who strategized with him about ways to boost his campaign.
Brandtjen, Gableman and Steen are eager for Trump to come to Wisconsin in October. The calls appear to have been recorded since Steen narrowly lost the Republican primary against Vos and launched the write-in candidacy.
Wisconsin is a one-party consent state for recordings. Our source alleges that at least one call between two people was automatically recorded without their consent, though, by an app used by Steen.
We’ve listened to dozens of the phone calls. We have decided to report on portions of them because it’s in the vital public interest. Voters have a right to know why so many volunteers for a prominent candidate for an important political office suddenly quit, as well as what he really thinks of them.
Even more vital to the public interest, there are multiple conversations in the recordings that raise very serious campaign finance questions revolving around Steen’s interactions with county parties. We are still investigating the most explosive angle within the recordings relating to that topic; it’s one that could have national impact.
The staffing exodus became public last month, when a Steen staffer posted a now-deleted Facebook post about the campaign’s problems, announcing that the beliefs of some volunteers and Steen had “diverged,” and some would be joining gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels’ campaign instead.
Adam Steen revealed that he has been “painting” Tim Michels’ signs. In the recordings, he said people working with him were getting stencils, and they were going “to put Michels’ signs, the big ones, beside mine.”
In one call, Steen expressed frustration with a volunteer, saying he was “dealing with a frickin’ female.” He told another woman he was working with that she was not “overly emotional,” saying, “you’re a female, I get this, but you’re fairly logical.”
We asked Steen for comment, and he responded with a press release naming a volunteer in the headline.
We will not reveal our sources. However, our source does believe they are a whistleblower exposing potential wrongdoing that is in the public interest.
“I recently learned that someone I believed to be a trusted friend and volunteer campaign staff member made an unauthorized disclosure of archival data from both my campaign and private business,” Steen wrote. “I can only assume that she acted with the intention of peddling this information to media outlets to attempt to damage my campaign and personal reputation.”
Steen claimed: “She had tried this before, but I demonstrated that she selectively edited the audio released to try to paint me in a negative light. I anticipate that she may use similar tactics in this latest breach of trust. This woman has committed a crime and we have begun the process of corrective action.”
The lengthy recordings don’t sound altered.
In call after call, Steen disparages volunteers. When a paid staffer told him “your volunteers are legitimately barbaric,” he responded, “correct.”
At another point, he said, “We have people knocking doors….I’m 90 percent sure they can’t do anything else. If we tried to change on them right now… I think they’d have a crap fit. I think they’d stroke out and not know what to do…These people aren’t capable of doing anything else. They barely can do this.”
In another call, a volunteer revealed that she had “just got off the phone with an Assembly member” who suggested that she request Vos’s “absentee ballot to your address, and then you video yourself delivering it to him at his house.”
Adam Steen said “the answer is yes, in a fricking heartbeat,” as long as the volunteer read election fraud statutes.
“This Assembly member said, ‘I will chip in to pay your fine,'” the volunteer revealed. “But I’m not going to jail.” The Assembly member was not named. Another activist, Harry Wait, was later charged with doing just that to make a point about election vulnerabilities.
Steen criticized volunteers for putting a billboard up for him with Vos’s “colors.”
“You don’t use his fricking colors for the last 20 years on a billboard with my name on it,” Steen said.
The menstruation joke came from a North Carolina staffer helping Steen with social media. “If she gets too out of hand you can ask her to go have her period somewhere else,” she said of a local volunteer.
Steen laughed. “Yes, that sounds like a lovely idea,” he said. “Just make sure you’re wearing a football helmet when we tell her that,” she added. Steen chuckled. “Exactly,” he said.
That staffer claimed to Steen that former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Ramthun is secretly helping Tim Michels but doesn’t want anyone to know. Ramthun “doesn’t want to be put in a position where Tim Michels is acknowledging he’s being helpful,” she claimed.
Steen also trashed staffers with other GOP campaigns. In one call, he said former gubernatorial candidate Kevin Nicholson’s staffers “scattered like mice” after Nicholson quit the primary. He said one staffer now working for Michels, whom he called a “black guy from Milwaukee,” has been “sucking the Republican teat for the last 7 years.”
Steen suggested that a campaign operative should read the book “Art of War” by Sun Tzu. and joked about his “evil scheme” to oust Vos.
Steen told Gableman, who was fired from his election investigatory work by Vos after he endorsed Steen, that Steen was working with what he described as “two C4 organizations out of Washington D.C.” that he said were coordinating social media campaigns for him.
In another conversation, Adam Steen referred to hanging a noose around Vos’s neck.
In the call with Gableman, Steen discussed the My Pillow Guy, Mike Lindell, saying he was “extremely enthusiastic” about “coming here and putting Vos down.” He referred to Lindell’s “ADD attitude.”
“Yes,” responded Gableman.
Steen revealed that Mike Lindell was trying to get Trump back to Wisconsin in mid-October.
“Have you been doing anything with Robin’s financial disclosure form?” Gableman asked, and Steen said he had people digging into Vos’s past financial records. Gableman said he heard there is “all sorts of good stuff” in it.
“I have almost a second team if you will Mike that is working out-of-state that knows social media like the back of their hand, and they are doing this type of work that you’re talking about…and getting it to show up in this district…” Steen told Gableman.
“I’m not doing it from my Facebook page,” Steen said. “It’s Americans for Intelligence Reform and Veterans for America First. They’re two C4s that are based in DC. And they have a central person who is working with me. We’ve given them some money to help them get that money out there…so we are doing that.”
Gableman responded, “That’s encouraging news. You’ve got to get it to the people who would otherwise vote for him.”
The two also strategized about how to get to Diane Hendricks, a billionaire conservative donor. Gableman admitted Hendricks is “resistant to the charms of Mike Gableman.” But he said he hoped that Trump comes back to Wisconsin before the general election.
Adam Steen agreed with Gableman’s negative attitude toward DeSantis. “You can’t do that as a president of the United States,” he said of DeSantis’s battles with Disney. “Leave him there,” he said.
In a call with Adam Steen, Brandtjen asked, “Is everything OK?” Brandtjen said she learned that there was “some drama about your campaign.”
In the recordings, Brandtjen was deeply involved in strategizing with Steen.
“Is that what it is? Your Facebook person is mad at you or something?”
Steen said he did not know what provoked the staffers to quit.
He read the staffer’s post out loud to the legislator: “This will be my final Facebook post..the beliefs of the team have diverged. Some members of the team will be departing and joining the efforts of Michels and Johnson.”
Steen told Brandtjen that Lindell and Gableman are trying to get Trump to Wisconsin in mid-October, which Brandtjen called “amazing.”
Steen also made disparaging comments about Vos’s wife, accusing her and other Republicans of having a “hissy fit.”
“He’s a crafty dude, isn’t he?” Brandtjen said, referring to Vos.
Steen also recorded a conversation with Rep. Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego.
Wichgers said he was “praying for you.”
Wichgers said that people at a Republican event told him they hoped Steen was sending people write-in stickers to put on their ballots. Steen told him he was still trying to raise enough money for direct mail with stickers.
“On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel?” Wichgers asked.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” Adam Steen said, adding that Lindell said he would stump for him.
“That would be neat if Trump came in,” Wichgers said.
In his statement to us, Steen challenged the timing of the call disclosure.
“The timing of these actions leaves little doubt that this is a desperate and blatantly political attack intended to derail my campaign just weeks before the election,” he said.
“Further, this appears to be yet another desperate attempt by my weak and corrupt opponent to distract the voters from the fact that he has done little to nothing over the past 17 years to make them safer and more prosperous. He continues to demonstrate himself to be a lying coward and I hold him in the highest contempt—and I’m hardly alone in this mindset.”
He continued: “These are the very tactics—all too common in the Madison swamp—that disgust Wisconsinites, especially the voters in the 63rd District. This is one of the main reasons I decided to run in the first place. I will be undeterred and will continue to offer the voters of this district a candidate willing to fight for those values we hold most dear.”
Adam Steen offered this background: “Friends of Kevin Adam Steen uses the REI Black Book as the campaign’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This CRM system includes the campaign’s official phone number and uses a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) app that allows staff and volunteers to receive and make calls for the campaign on their individual devices. Upon advice from its vendor and other trusted advisors, the campaign utilized an archive function within the app that kept recordings of these calls. Ironically, the suggestion to create the archive was to ensure the campaign could protect itself against false assertions and accusations. The campaign is working with its CRM vendor to further investigate this breach and is exploring potential legal options.”