Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Tony Evers’ Killers & Rapists: Nearly 1,000 Freed Criminals Include Wisconsin’s Most Heinous [WRN EXCLUSIVE]

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 “We will not release violent criminals,” Tony Evers promised voters in 2018.

That was an insidious lie.

Gov. Tony Evers’ Parole Commission has released hundreds of convicted criminals, freeing them early on parole mostly into Wisconsin communities, including more than 270 murderers and attempted murderers, and more than 44 child rapists.

The list, from 2019 through 2021, includes some of the most brutal killers in Wisconsin history and some of the most high-profile. The cases span the state, from Kenosha to Rib Mountain, Wisconsin Right Now has documented through a public records request.



Many were serving life sentences, which don’t qualify for mandatory release. The Parole Commission confirmed in writing to Wisconsin Right Now that the spreadsheet containing the 883 paroles did not include inmates released because they reached their mandatory release dates. You can check the parole dates out yourself by putting the killers’ names into the state Department of Corrections database and clicking on “movement.”

Evers' killers

Wisconsin administrative code says that parole decisions should consider:

(1) Depreciation of the seriousness of the offense resulting from early release.
(2) Risk to the community.
(3) Reasonable certainty of a crime-free reintegration of the inmate into society.

How brutal are these killers? Carl Beletsky, then 39, of Oconomowoc, shot and decapitated his bank manager wife, Kathleen, with a large kitchen knife and then tried to burn her head in a wood-burning stove in 1982. Newspaper articles from the time say that Beletsky, who was worried she was going to leave him, placed Kathleen’s headless body in the trunk of a car, dumped the body in a cornfield, and then went to drink liquor.

Beletsky, now 79, was paroled in August 2019 by the Evers administration and now lives in Hatley, Wisconsin.

Kathleen beletsky
Kathleen beletsky

There are many cases that rival Beletsky’s in their outright brutality. And don’t think they’re all old. The average age of the released killers and attempted killers is 54, and they range in age from 39 to 79.

Even though they’ve only been out for three years at the most, 16 of them have already re-offended or violated terms of their parole, Corrections records show, including one man accused of strangulation.

Slightly more than half are black. About a third are white. Only four were paroled as “compassionate releases.” In 27 cases, Corrections records list no address for the parolees. Some are double murderers; there is even a triple murderer among them.

Joseph Roeling shot and killed his mother, stepfather, and 8-year-old half-sister while they slept in 1982 inside the family’s mobile home in Fond du Lac County. Roeling told a sister he was planning to get rid of everyone in the family to have free run of the home, according to a newspaper article from the time.

Roeling, 56, was paroled by the Evers administration in June 2021 and lives in Oshkosh today.

In another particularly heinous case, Terrance Shaw randomly murdered a young mother, Susan Erickson, who worked at a La Crosse hospital, raping, stabbing, and strangling her after spotting her through her home’s picture window while driving past. They were strangers. He called it “one really bad day.”

Today Shaw, 73, lives in Onalaska.

Roy Barnes, 62, lives in Milwaukee. In 1999, he murdered the brother of one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims and received 45 years in prison for it. Barnes tortured the victim and used his ear as an ashtray, according to a 2000 Green Bay Press-Gazette article. In 1998, the article says, he committed “a hammer attack on another man.”

Evers’ administration paroled Barnes in September 2020.

Over the next two months, in a new series, Wisconsin Right Now will be naming names and profiling some of the most brutal killers and child rapists paroled by the Tony Evers-Mandela Barnes administration (with the total silence of Attorney General Josh Kaul).

We will be running one story each day.

About one-third of the killers and attempted killers live in Milwaukee. Racine, Madison, and Kenosha are next in that order. All of the 274 cases are listed under homicide statutes by the Parole Commission; a review of court records, news stories, and other documents confirms that most of those homicides resulted in deaths. A far smaller number were attempted homicides.

“If we’re not safe, nobody’s safe,” an outraged Raymond Ziebell, whose pregnant sister, Cathy Ziebell, 16, was murdered in 1975 in Kenosha County by Mark Ketterhagen, told Wisconsin Right Now.

Cathy ziebell

Ketterhagen shot Cathy twice in the back and tossed the teen off a bridge into the Fox River just south of Burlington. Ketterhagen was paroled – for a second time – in October 2019 by the Evers’ administration.

The killer, 69, today lives free in West Allis, despite being a failure on parole once before, according to Corrections records.

“If people like Evers keep letting these people out, there will be more murders and more suffering, and then none of us are safe,” said Ziebell.

Raymond Ziebell notes that, if his sister and her unborn child had lived, the baby would be 47 years old today. “Where was justice?” he asked. After the murder, he said that Ketterhagen would ride past Cathy’s mother’s house on a motorcycle and give their mother the finger. “I believe in God’s justice,” he added.

Ziebell, a retired teacher who identified his sister’s body, noted: “I’m 80. We have lived a long life. But young people are not going to have that. Look at the crime on the streets of Milwaukee; they (Evers and Barnes) are doing very little about that.” He believes the paroles were “covered up.”

“I think it’s terrible,” he said. “Society is breaking down.”

Multiple families including Ziebell’s complained to WRN that they were not notified of the paroles. More of that later.

Democrat Tony Evers took office on Jan. 7, 2019. Evers first named John Tate to chair the Parole Commission, starting on June 3, 2019 and reappointed him in 2021.

Tate, who stepped down in June after outcry from another victim’s family, had sole authority over the releases, but Evers could have fired him at any time.

Last spring, Evers acted shocked, as if the rescinded release of wife killer Douglas Balsewicz, which ignited news stories all over the state, was an aberration.

It was not, and he had to know this. The Parole Commission’s own records firmly prove: The Balsewicz case was the pattern.

The other cases are as horrific as that of Balsewicz, who stabbed his estranged wife Johanna more than 40 times, and that’s saying a lot. Unlike Balsewicz, there’s no evidence Evers did anything to stop the paroles. Worse, he reappointed Tate after many of them.

The released criminals include multiple cop killers; men who stabbed, strangled, and asphyxiated their wives and girlfriends; a man who shot a teenage gas station clerk in the head for $5 on the clerk’s first day alone on the job after shooting two other clerks in the head; and people who murdered and bludgeoned and raped elderly women, including a killer who used a wheelbarrow to dump the body of a murdered 86-year-old woman in the woods.

Scott jenkins
Scott jenkins killed an elderly dog walker.

They include a killer who blew his parents’ heads off with a rifle and then went out to party, telling people his mom and dad were “laying around the house.”

A sniper who hid in the woods and randomly shot an elderly woman who was walking a dog along the Menomonee River Parkway because he wanted to kill someone.

A woman who stabbed an elderly Richland County grocer 63 times for $54; a man who strangled a baby, either with a cord from behind or by suspending the infant.

A man who went to a technical college intending to commit suicide and murdered a technical services coordinator.

A foster dad who beat a 2-year-old to death because he soiled his pants.

A biker who slashed a woman’s throat so severely he almost decapitated her after participating in a violent gang rape and then threw her in a manure pit.

“I never thought I’d have to go through this again. What I’ve gone through and what my family has gone through has just been awful,” Linda Frederick, of Kenosha, told the Kenosha News in 2019 when her husband’s killer, David Lahti, was paroled.

According to the newspaper, Lahti decided one Halloween night that he wanted to kill people at an apartment complex, so he randomly shot Richard V. Frederick, a father of three, through his heart and then fired another shot into his back.

“David Lahti said he didn’t care if Jesus Christ was standing there, he was going to kill him,” Frederick told the newspaper.

Lahti, 74, is back living in Kenosha.

Some of the killers were released even though they already had blemished records on parole or behind bars.

Dennis Noel, 65, was on parole for another murder when he killed a tavern owner in 1981, court records say. He was paroled again in 2019 by the Evers administration and has moved to Indiana.

Keefe Adams, 53, battered multiple corrections officers while serving a 20-year sentence for a 1998 second-degree murder conviction. He was paroled anyway.

Eric Washington, committed felony battery by a prisoner while incarcerated and was still paroled.


This Was Purposeful

In most cases, Tate had the final say. However, Evers knew full well about Tate’s philosophy, which focuses far more on rehabilitation/redemption than punishment or protecting the public.

The paroles are reflective of an admitted belief system by both. The governor even promised to slash the state’s prison population by 50%. This is apparently who he meant.

In 2018, Evers “signaled” in an interview “that he would favor increasing paroles.”

The governor appointed Tate, a proponent of repealing truth-in-sentencing laws and police “reform,” twice to chair the Parole Commission. Evers re-upped Tate’s appointment in 2021 AFTER many of the killers, including Beletsky, were paroled, expressing zero concern about the releases. Thus, Evers is going to have to own them all.

Tate has been open about his beliefs; a Racine city council member, he once hung a Black Lives Matter flag behind him during a virtual meeting on police reform.

Evers' killers
John tate

When Evers first appointed Tate to the job, Evers’ focus was on “improving our parole system” to eliminate “racial disparities.” He pledged that Tate would be a “strong advocate for the change we need to ensure our criminal justice system treats everyone fairly and focuses on rehabilitation.

An Associated Press article said Evers’ choice “has been eagerly anticipated by prison reform advocates.”

“I’m trying to find ways to get people back to their communities,” Tate promised. He did not reveal that would include some of the state’s worst killers and rapists.

On Feb. 24, 2021, Evers signaled that he was happy with how Tate, a social worker, had done his job. He wrote the state Senate, “I am pleased to nominate and with the advice and consent of the Senate, do appoint JOHN TATE II, of Racine, as the Chair of the Parole Commission, to serve for the term ending March 1, 2023.” Senate Republicans let the nomination languish, meaning Tate could continue serving.

Evers' killers

Tate bragged in 2021 about releasing more prisoners than Gov. Scott Walker’s Parole Commission. He told other officials involved in parole releases: “I just wanted to note that your efforts to really evaluate individuals where they are, giving that real chance… as well as individuals’ own progress, resulted in a great deal of people being able to return to the community… So, I just wanted to give you kudo.” He mentioned the families of criminals but not victims.

Evers has been under fire for letting Kenosha burn during riots there, but the release of some of the state’s most violent and heinous murderers and child rapists – and the impact on public safety and on traumatized victims’ families – has gone almost unnoticed in the news media. A few of the paroles were covered at the time, but most were not.

Unlike sex offenders, the public doesn’t receive a notification when convicted killers move next to them.

Evers' killers
Parole commission excel sheet obtained through an open records request.

Evers accused Walker of lying when Walker warned that Evers planned to release violent criminals to the streets. It turns out that Walker was right, but Walker understated the problem. Even he did not fathom that Evers’ administration would release so many violent murderers and child rapists.

Tate helped found a group called “Our Wisconsin Revolution” that is openly opposed to truth-in-sentencing laws and other legislation to keep criminals behind bars longer.

We tried to reach Tate at the time of the Balsewicz story, but he never returned calls.

With Evers, this is a long pattern. He recently said he wasn’t sure he had met with murder victims’ families other than those involved in the Waukesha parade attack; he’s pardoned more than 400 offenders (including a sibling of Balsewicz who was going to give her paroled brother a place to live – pardons are different than the paroles in this story); he increased the number of early release prisoners by 16% and decreased the prison population by 15%; he softened revocation rules; and, perhaps most egregiously, he wanted to get rid of truth-in-sentencing and expand early release in his last budget.

For his part, Barnes authored legislation in 2016 to get rid of cash bail entirely in the state. The MacIver Institute has the round-up

Tate’s resignation came just three days after Wisconsin Right Now asked the Wisconsin Parole Commission for information on two past paroles Tate granted for men – Kenneth Jordan and Lavelle Chambers – convicted in connection with the murders of Milwaukee police officers.


Freed Child Rapists

The freed child rapists are extremely disturbing cases too; one man paroled in 2021, Gary Frank, 54, is a convicted domestic abuser who sexually assaulted a female relative, who was under age 13 at the time. He now lives in Milwaukee.

A former pastor, Gordon Larson, 69, made the parolee list. He abused a girl when she was aged 4-5 to 9 years old, sometimes in his office at church. Evers’ administration released him early too. In 2014, he received an 18-year prison sentence in Waukesha courts. Today he lives in Kewaunee.

When Richard Garcia was paroled by Evers’ administration in 2020, Fox 6 falsely reported that he had served his sentence. He had not. In 1985, Garcia burglarized a stranger’s home and sexually assaulted an elderly resident. Eight years later, he sexually assaulted two children, ages 4 and 9, the station reported. Parolees do receive state supervision; he will be on GPS monitoring. Garcia, 57, lives today in Waukesha.

Evers' killers
Patrick appel

Patrick Appel, 53, a registered sex offender, was released on parole in September 2020 from a first-degree sexual assault of a child conviction but is already back behind bars. He is accused of possessing child pornography in Price County.

Evers' killers

All of that – yes, all of that – is just the tip of the iceberg.


High Profile Cases

The Ever administration has released some of the most notorious killers in state history. They include a Marathon County Dairy Princess, Lori Esker, who used a belt to strangle a love rival, Lisa Ann Cihaski, in Rib Mountain.

Esker, whose crime was turned into a movie, is today 53 years old and living free in Racine. She was paroled in July 2019.

Lori esker
Lori esker

In addition, in one two-day span in 2019, Evers’ Parole Commission freed two men convicted in the high-profile death of Tom Monfils, who was thrown into a paper mill pulp vat in Brown County in 1992.

The cases also include a Green Bay homicide that the local newspaper called the “most brutal, bloody rape and vicious murder in Green Bay’s history.”

Margaret Anderson was practically “beheaded” after being gang-raped and was left to die in a manure pit. The details of that case will absolutely shock your conscience. There could be no more severe crime. Prosecutors said biker gang member Randolph Whiting slashed Anderson’s throat.

Margaret anderson
Margaret anderson

Evers’ administration paroled Whiting, the only biker convicted of murder in the heinous crime, on Jan. 21, 2020.

Today he’s only 62 years old and lives in Waupaca, according to Department of Corrections records. He claims he has found God.

 


Lack of Notification

Ziebell says the family was not notified that his sister’s killer was paroled again or about the possibility of it, and he, ultimately, blames Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes for it all, noting that they defended Jacob Blake in Kenosha and have advanced a philosophy of criminal justice “reform” (i.e. releasing inmates) that he considers very dangerous.

“The cost to families from these murders, it goes on for years,” Ziebell, a retired teacher, told Wisconsin Right Now.

Mark ketterhagen
Mark ketterhagen

Tate’s reappointment came after Ketterhagen’s release.

The released killer list includes several cop killers, among them Wilson Brook, the brutal murderer of Burlington police Sgt. Anthony Eilers. Eilers’ son expressed shock to learn that Brook was granted parole.

For years, that southeastern Wisconsin community has honored Eilers in memorial ceremonies, but, in 2019, according to Wisconsin Parole Commission records, Wilson Brook was quietly granted parole.

The case was horrific; newspaper articles from the time show that Brook shot Eilers five times in a routine traffic stop before trying to drive his squad car, with the officer’s brutalized body inside, off a cliff. Eilers was a World War II veteran and married father of two.

Sgt. Anthony eilers
Sgt. Anthony eilers

John Eilers, the officer’s son, told us in an interview that he did not even know Brook was paroled, and he believes that cop killers should never be paroled – including Brook. “No, give them life in prison,” he said. “That’s not right.”

Brook has since died. Brook’s parole is not listed as a compassionate release grant on the Parole Commission’s list. We asked the Parole Commission and Department of Corrections when Brook died and received no response.

James Block is only 60 years old and living back in Kenosha, where he murdered his girlfriend Christine Acevedo, then 34. The murder was savage, according to Christine’s daughter Patricia Logan and newspaper articles from the time.

Logan did not find out that Block had been paroled for a year.

Although she acknowledges the Parole Commission may have had old contact information for her, Wisconsin Right Now was able to find her in an hour.

James p. Block
James p. Block

“I was shocked he got out,” Logan told Wisconsin Right Now. “Life is life. You took a life, you don’t get to breathe fresh air. My mother doesn’t get to breathe fresh air; why should he?”

She believes Gov. Evers should not have appointed a Parole Commission chairman with this early release philosophy. “He (Evers) did not look at the full picture of what families go through,” she said, describing Block’s release as incredibly “traumatic,” reigniting PTSD that she’s struggled with since she was a 12-year-old girl suddenly informed her mother was murdered.

Christine acevedo
Christine acevedo

This is a pattern; victims’ family members were not notified of the parole releases in multiple cases, including when there was still a chance to stop them.

A victim has a right to attend a parole interview per s. 304.06(1)(eg) Wis. Stats. However, to be notified, victims’ family members must enroll in a system to receive notice.

Here’s the reality; in many cases, after decades pass, the closest family members – parents, siblings – have died or moved away or aged, leaving few alive to speak for the victim anymore.

Traumatized families fray, and PTSD takes its toll. At this stage, it’s up to the governor’s appointee to stand for public safety or not.

We asked the Parole Commission about the cases of Block, Ketterhagen, Brook, and Whiting. Why were these men paroled? When did Brook die? Were the victims’ families notified? If not, why not? Why was Ketterhagen paroled after failing parole before?

The Commission promised to respond to our questions before our deadline, but never did.


By the Numbers

Evers’ Parole Commission released more convicted killers in its first three years than Walker released in eight, the records show.

The list of paroled criminals is just through Dec. 27, 2021. The Parole Commission has yet to provide this year’s releases, despite an open records request that has pended for months.

Democrats lie to the public that they want to only release “non-violent offenders,” mostly drug offenders. However, we filtered out the people paroled for drug offenses (often drug dealing). They amounted to only about 11% of the total paroled since Evers took office.

Wisconsin Right Now obtained the names of every criminal paroled through an open records request. We found the following killers, attempted killers and rapists:

      • 1st Degree Intentional Homicide 171
      • 1st-Degree Reckless Homicide 62
      • Felony Murder 18
      • 2nd-Degree Intentional Homicide 18
      • 2nd Degree Reckless Homicide 3
      • Homicide by Intoxicated Use of Vehicle 2
        • 1st Degree Sexual Assault 24
        • 2nd Degree Sexual Assault 15

      Total 39

        • 1st Degree Sexual Assault of Child 26
        • 2nd Degree Sexual Assault of Child 5
        • Repeated Sexual Assault of Same Child 13

      Total 44

      Some parolees were released to truth-in-sentencing sentences under new laws or to detainers, such as immigration, from other agencies, but they aren’t anywhere close to the majority. Some have moved to other states.

      The Parole Commission says 460 of the paroles were discretionary paroles. Earned release program releases under the new laws require the parole commission chairman’s “sign off,” the commission said, and they are listed in the sheet as parole grants, but statutes say that’s to determine statutory eligibility with trial courts making the decisions. The Parole Commission redacted which paroled inmates were ERP (or Challenge Incarceration Program). However, Earned release is only allowed for inmates with substance abuse needs who committed non-violent and non-assaultive offenses, however.

      The Parole Commission is also redacting some information about inmates who were released early. They are deeming some information relating to people released under other programs – like the “Earned Release Program” – as confidential treatment information.

      They wrote us in an email with the Excel sheet, “Because information about which individuals are granted release under the Earned Release Program (ERP) or Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP) falls under confidential treatment information, we have removed ERP/CIP references from the sheet. Those programs fall under the institutions (Division of Adult Institutions or DAI) but the Parole Chair does sign off on those grants once the individual has completed the program.”


      Who Should be Paroled? A Judge’s Change of Heart

      A few cases arguably make sense for parole release; for example, some of the killers were juveniles at the time or were convicted of felony murder, meaning they did not pull the trigger.

      We met one of the men paroled, Ramiah Whiteside, who runs an organization in Milwaukee that helps ex-offenders heal and become productive members of society.

      We ran into Whiteside, who had a violent childhood and was shot five times growing up, at a barber shop on Milwaukee’s north side where he helped set up a positive event designed to bring Republican candidates face-to-face with black voters.

      Milwaukee republican candidates
      Ramiah whiteside and abie eisenbach. Photo: jessica mcbride

      The 1995 crime was high-profile and extremely devastating to many. Whiteside killed four people during a high-speed police chase of a stolen vehicle when he smashed into a Milwaukee bus stop. Whiteside credits his rehabilitation in part through help from U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and his team.

      Court records say, “IT IS THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE COURT THAT DEFENDANT NOT BE GRANTED PAROLE BUT TO SERVE THE MAXIMUM” term of 47 years. He served 24. However, even the Judge, David Hansher, wrote a letter urging Whiteside’s parole. One of the victim’s family members stopped opposing it.

      Another case involves a juvenile sentenced to life for a 1997 murder that occurred during a robbery when he was 16. Carlos King was part of a lawsuit involving five inmates sentenced to life in prison as juveniles.

      He “is pursuing a bachelor’s degree and has completed the tasks the Parole Commission has recommended but has been denied parole four times,” the lawsuit alleged. Until now.

      However, there are many more cases that deeply shock the conscience. Over the next 60 days, we will tell you about some of them in detail.

       

Trump's First Criminal Trial

Prosecutors Rest Their Case Against Trump in Hush Money Trial

State prosecutors rested their case against former President Donald Trump on Monday, capping off four weeks of testimony from 20 witnesses.

The first-ever trial of a former President was one step closer to a conclusion after prosecutors concluded their case Monday. Next up: Trump's attorneys will get a chance to present their defense. The case centered around Trump's alleged sexual encounter with an adult film actress in 2006 and a $130,000 payment to her in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied the encounter happened.

Prosecutors allege that Trump covered up the payment to Stormy Daniels and another hush money payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the election and covered them up as legal payments.

Trump, 77, is the first former U.S. president to be charged with a felony.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to money paid to Daniels and McDougal. Bragg has alleged Trump broke New York law when he falsified business records with the intent to commit or conceal another crime.

Prosecutors allege Trump falsified internal records kept by his company, hiding the true nature of payments that involve Daniels ($130,000), McDougal ($150,000), and Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen ($420,000). Prosecutors allege the money was logged as legal expenses, not reimbursements. Both Cohen and Daniels testified during the trial.

Daniels detailed the alleged 2006 sexual encounter and testified she "blacked out." She also said Trump didn't wear a condom. Defense attorneys asked for a mistrial after that testimony, which they argued was prejudicial.

Judge Juan Merchan denied that motion and repeatedly fined Trump for his comments and social media activity outside of the courtroom. Merchan ordered Trump to pay a total of $10,000 for violations of the gag order.

The gag order remains in place. Trump, the nation's 45th president, is prohibited from making or directing others to make public statements about the jurors, witnesses, attorneys, court staff, district attorney staff and family members of staff.

It is not clear if Trump plans to take the stand in his own defense. He previously said he would take the stand if necessary.

Under New York state law, falsifying business records in the first degree is a Class E felony that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

In late March, Trump said that he wasn't worried about a conviction when asked if he thought a conviction could hurt his chances of returning to the White House.

"It could also make me more popular because the people know it's a scam," he said. "It's a Biden trial, there is no trial, there's a Biden trial."

Whatever happens during the trial, Trump will be protected by the U.S. Secret Service.

Even if convicted and sentenced to jail, Trump could continue his campaign to retake the White House.

"The Constitution does not bar felons from serving as President," said Richard Hasen, professor of law and political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Trump could not pardon himself from any state charges, Hasen said.

Federal Scholarship Program Under Fire For Alleged Bias Against Conservatives

Lawmakers have threatened to revoke the appropriations for a federally-funded scholarship program that an audit found favors liberally leaning students over conservatives by a ratio of 10 to 1.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established in the 1970s to award scholarships to students who “demonstrate outstanding potential for and who plan to pursue a career in public service.”

An audit of those scholarships performed by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, though, reported strong liberal bias at the taxpayer-funded foundation.

“While this role suggests these programs should include scholars who reflect a breadth of views, values, and interests, their participants instead display a stark ideological tilt,” AEI said in its report.

The foundation does have members of both parties on its board, including U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kans.

Notably, President Joe Biden's Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also sits on the board.

House Republican lawmakers on leadership on the relevant committees sent a letter to foundation Executive Secretary Terry Babcock-Lumish demanding answers.

“Between 2021 and 2023, the Truman Foundation selected 182 Truman winners,” the letter said. “Yet, despite the Truman Foundation’s claims that it ‘supports scholars from a wide range of perspectives, interests, and geographic areas,’ just six recipients espoused interest in a cause traditionally considered conservative-leaning.

“Not a single winner professed interest in causes such as protecting the rights of the unborn or defending the Second Amendment,” the letter continued. “By contrast, the Foundation selected at least 74 winners professing interest in a progressive cause.”

The foundation awards about 60 scholarships every year.

“As a publicly funded award charged with preparing the civic leaders of tomorrow, the Truman Scholarship should, at a bare minimum, be reflective of the country’s breadth of values, viewpoints, and interests,” the letter said. “The Truman Foundation requested approximately $3 million in appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year. However, if the Truman Scholarship functions as a career booster solely for students of a particular political persuasion, it should no longer be worthy of Congressional support, taxpayer funding, or its exalted public image.”

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development Chairman Burgess Owens, R-Utah., and Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., led the letter.

The foundation did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Push Questions About IDs For Illegal Immigrants, Voting

(The Center Square) – Some Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to calm fears about illegal immigrants getting IDs and voting in the state.

The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections and the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection held a hearing Thursday with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, some local election clerks and Fond du Lac County’s district attorney.

“We're not trying to get anybody into a bad spot here, or in a corner, or make accusations on that level,” Sen. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, said. “We want our clerks, who are already stressed enough, to know that we are here to be there as an assist to them.”

Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said he wants to make sure voters have faith in Wisconsin’s electoral process.

“This is one of the topics that hit our inboxes quite a bit the last three months or so,” Krug added. “We thought it’s pretty important just to vet it out, to get all the information out to the public.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission was invited to Thursday’s meeting but didn’t attend because commissioners were having a meeting of their own. But that left lawmakers’ questions unanswered.

Wis-DOT Deputy Secretary Kristina Boardman said Wisconsin is known as a strict voter ID state.

“I want to make very clear that Wis-DOT is required to provide free identification cards for U.S. citizens that request them for the purposes of voting, and that to be eligible for that free identification card one must be a U.S. citizen and at least 17 years of age,” Boardman said. “Wis-DOT staff do not determine voter eligibility or register anyone to vote. Someone who has a Wisconsin ID or a driver's license is eligible to register to vote online, and that information will be confirmed with Wisconsin DMV systems to ensure that the information entered for voter registration is consistent with the DMV's records

Boardman said in Wisconsin, less than a fraction of one percent of ID requests are fraudulent.

“We put together [a] case activity report, assemble all of the documentation that we have, we have the investigator that had the case pull that together, and we do refer that to law enforcement so that they can take whatever action is appropriate,” Boardman added. “We note what statutes we believe may have been violated. And then it's up to law enforcement to take action.”

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Senate Republicans Override Evers’ Vetoes

(The Center Square) – On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate voted to override nine vetoes from Gov. Tony Evers, including the vetoes that scuttled PFAS clean-up money, millions of dollars that were earmarked for hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls and a plan that would allow advanced practice registered nurses to work more independently.

“The legislature has passed hundreds of bills to solve problems facing Wisconsin businesses and families. Most of these bills were signed into law, but many were vetoed by a governor more focused on politics than policies that help everyday Wisconsinites,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Tuesday. “Overriding the governor’s obstructive vetoes is the last, best way to address these critical issues.”

The override votes came one day after Evers sued the legislature over nearly $200 million that is attached to some of his vetoes.

Most of that money is the $125 million that’s supposed to go toward PFAS clean up in Wisconsin.

“For the fifth time this legislative session, I voted to provide Wisconsin families with the largest investment in clean drinking water in state history – five more times than every Democrat legislator in this state combined. The bill that Gov. Evers vetoed (SB 312) would have created a grant program that targets this critical funding to areas of the state most heavily impacted by PFAS contamination while protecting innocent landowners from financial ruin,” Sen Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said.

Evers has accused the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee of obstructing his plans to clean up Wisconsin’s drinking water, and of delaying his other actions across the state.

LeMahieu said Evers is simply playing the game.

“While Gov. Evers plays politics, the legislature will continue to do the right thing on behalf of the people of our state,” LeMahieu added.

Senate Democrats responded with game-playing accusations of their own.

“Coming in to do all these veto overrides was clearly a stunt to try to appeal to voters ahead of the fall election,” Den. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said. “Clearly Republicans were hearing from things in their district and wanted political cover. I don't think they got political cover today. I think what they got was people realizing just how afraid they are.”

But Tuesday’s veto overrides are largely symbolic.

While Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate have a veto-proof majority, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly do not.

trump vs biden

Trump Holds Lead Over Biden Heading Toward November

With less than half a year until the 2024 presidential election, former President Donald Trump holds a sizable lead over incumbent President Joe Biden in several swing states.

While the overall national polling varies and shows a tighter race, Trump holds significant leads in several swing states.

According to Real Clear Politics, Trump leads in a slew of key battleground states like Arizona (+5.2), Georgia (+4.6), Michigan (+0.8), Nevada (+6.2), North Carolina (+5.4), Pennsylvania (+2.0), and Wisconsin (+0.6).

Other polling has shown Trump with a dominant lead in the Sun Belt while performing less well against Biden in some rust belt swing states.

“As the old saying goes, good gets better and bad gets worse, and it’s clear President Biden is in bad shape right now,” Colin Reed, a Republican strategist, former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies, told The Center Square. “Five and a half months is an eternity in politics, and there’s theoretically still time to right the ship, but it’s getting late early for the president, especially when Father Time remains undefeated and doubts about his age continue to grow. “

According to the Real Clear Politics’ national polling average, Trump leads Biden 46.1% to 44.9%.

A New York Times poll released this week showed leads for Trump in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania but slightly trailing Biden in Wisconsin, raising concerns among supporters.

Trump’s lead has been in large part fueled by minority voters flocking to his side.

Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating has plummeted since taking office. While that is not unusual for incumbents, Biden’s approval is lower than recent presidents.

Gallup recently released polling data showing that in the 13th quarter of Biden’s presidency, he averaged a 38.7% approval rating, worse than Trump at the same time in his term.

“None of the other nine presidents elected to their first term since Dwight Eisenhower had a lower 13th-quarter average than Biden,” Gallup said.

Axios reported this week that Biden and his team think the polls don’t represent Americans’ actual feelings and that the president’s position is strong.

“They're still 50% (well 45%) to win, per betting markets,” pollster Nate Silver wrote on X. “But Biden has been behind Trump in polls for a year now. His approval is in the tank, and voters have been clear they think he's too old. If Trump wins, history will not remember Biden kindly.”

Meanwhile, Trump spends valuable campaign time in a series of court appearances for his myriad of federal prosecution court dates.

“I’m under a gag order,” Trump told reporters after a court appearance Tuesday. “Nobody has actually seen anything like it ... I'm beating him in every poll and I have a gag order, so I think it's totally unconstitutional."

Republicans have blasted Biden for Trump’s prosecution, accusing Biden of using the Justice Department against his political opponent.

“Despite Far Left Democrats’ illegal election interference, President Trump is beating Joe Biden in the polls!” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on X Tuesday. “Voters see right through the sham Biden Trials and know President Trump is the best choice for president.”

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