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Illinois congressman says criticism of Wis. Gov. Tony Evers was 'freedom of speech'

Posted at 4:41 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 17:41:37-05

MADISON (AP) — A spokeswoman for an Illinois congressman who doubles as a Wisconsin National Guard pilot says he shouldn't face any discipline for criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for withdrawing troops from the U.S. southern border because he was off duty when he made his remarks.

Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger criticized Evers on Twitter and on Fox News on Monday for an executive order pulling Wisconsin National Guard troops out of Arizona. Wisconsin statutes prohibit a commissioned officer from using "contemptuous words" against government officials, including the president and Wisconsin's governor.

Guard officials and Evers' office are looking into whether to discipline Kinzinger.

Kinzinger's spokeswoman, Maura Gillespie, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Kinzinger was exercising his freedom of speech rights off duty, just as he has done when he has criticized President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama.

The Wisconsin National Guard and Evers' office are looking into whether an Illinois congressman who belongs to the Guard should face discipline for criticizing Evers' decision to withdraw troops from the U.S. southern border.

Evers is commander in chief of the Wisconsin National Guard. Asked if Kinzinger might be disciplined for criticizing his commanding officer, Guard spokesman Capt. Joe Travato said the Guard and Evers' office are looking into the matter.