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In-Depth: GOP backed report says bribery law violated during 2020 election in Wisconsin

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2024-03-19 09:17:39-04

MILWAUKEE — A Republican backed report about the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin was made public on Tuesday.

The release of Michael Gableman’s 136-page “interim report” says, in part, five Wisconsin cities, including Milwaukee, violated the state’s bribery law by receiving a grant to pay for the election.

The report comes from Gableman, the former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who was in charge of the Republican review of the election.

The grants came from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), which is funded, in part, by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife.

In the report, he claims five of Wisconsin’s largest cities, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Racine, Kenosha and Madison, took grant money that ”violates the election bribery prohibition" because an election official accepted private money to "facilitate in-person and absentee voting within a city."

"I don't want to call it a grant. It was payment for services rendered. It was payment for services rendered from Mark Zuckerberg to our five cities,” said Gableman.

Gableman before the Assembly elections committee on Tuesday.

The report alleges CTCL targeted the state's five largest cities, but what the report failed to mention is that216 municipalities in Wisconsin received CTCL money. That includes Rice Lake in Barron County, Wisconsin, an area that then-president Donald Trump won in 2020 with more than 60 percent of the vote.

"I bought election worker PPE, absentee ballot envelopes, absentee ballot labels, crowd control polls,” said Kathleen Morse, the city clerk and treasurer of Rice Lake.

She said the grants funds were important because of the pandemic.

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Neil Albrecht, former executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission until July of 2020.

"I did not have the funding in my budget,” said Morse. “I wanted to promote in-person absentee voting and provide professional signage outside of city hall relating to in-person voting and curbside voting."

In Milwaukee, the grant money was used to avoid a repeat of the April 2020 election when only five voting sites were open and people waited in lines for hours to vote. Neil Albrecht was the former executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission during that time.

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People waited in lines for hours in Milwaukee during the COVID pandemic to cast a ballot in the April 2020 election.

"Whether or not these municipalities could have or should have accepted these grant dollars has been reviewed in the courts many times and in each case (has) been dismissed by those courts. And the voices of the court system is what the public should be listening to not some misrepresentations and very partisan and biased report on whether it was appropriate for municipalities to accept those dollars,” said Albrecht.

In addition to Wisconsin, municipalities in 48 other states received CTCL grants. Milwaukee plans to use CTCL money to help administer elections again this year.

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