Left: Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Right: Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl
An elector in Madison, Wisconsin filed a complaint on Thursday against Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, accusing them of election bribery after making a deal with Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) which constituted prohibited election bribery under Wisconsin statutes.
“In the agreement, the Respondents and their City agreed to take Center for Tech and Civic Life’s money to facilitate in-person and absentee voting within their city,” according to the complaint.
“Any agreement where the City’s election officials receive Center for Tech and Civic Life’s or other’s private money to facilitate in-person and absentee voting within the city violates Wisconsin Statutes 12.11’s prohibition on election bribery,” the complaint stated.
Attorney Erick Kaardal of Thomas More Society said, “The evidence in this complaint is overwhelming and condemning.”
“Even on the surface, given all benefit of doubt, there is no question that Mayor Rhodes-Conway and Clerk Witzel-Behl accepted private money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life to facilitate in-person and absentee voting in Madison. This is in violation of Wisconsin election law,” he added.
Read the news release below:
The mayor and city clerk of Madison, Wisconsin, are being accused of election bribery in a complaint filed March 17, 2022, in the State of Wisconsin before the Elections Commission. Thomas More Society attorneys acted on behalf of a Madison, Wisconsin, voter to levy allegations against Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, stating that these officials acted in violation of Wisconsin’s election bribery law, Statute § 12.11, by accepting private money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life in order to facilitate in-person and absentee voting.
The complaint filing comes on the heels of a trend, in which 16 states have now passed legislation to ban or regulate the acceptance and use of private funds by public election officers. Thomas More Society attorneys have litigated this issue successfully in eight states. Arizona and Texas passed legislation addressing this issue, and in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the legislature passed laws regulating this conduct, but those laws were vetoed by Democrat governors. Three other states, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Carolina have passed bills regulating this conduct, and are now waiting for those bills to be enacted. In Wisconsin, several counties, including Walworth County and Brown County, have passed, or are considering such bans, of so-labeled “dark money” in elections.
The Madison complaint contends that Rhodes-Conway and Witzel-Behl entered into an agreement with the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a partisan, special interest organization, to accept more than $1.2 million to facilitate in-person and absentee voting in the city, which is a violation of Wisconsin law. The Center for Tech and Civic Life is a non-profit Chicago-based organization, led and staffed by former Democratic activists and funded by billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to influence the 2020 election.
This latest complaint before the commission follows a previous complaint against Kenosha, which asserted violations of election law and bribery of election officials by the Center for Tech and Civic Life. Additionally, the first round of Wisconsin Election Commission complaints filed by Thomas More Society attorneys representing groups of private citizens also included allegations against Kenosha, Racine, Green Bay, and Milwaukee.
Attorney Erick Kaardal, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, explained that the complaint details a massive scheme on the part of the Center for Tech and Civic Life, to usurp the administration of the election, a core traditional governmental function. Under the guise of COVID-19 prevention and via the illegal dumping of private money into the municipal process, the Center for Tech and Civic Life handed control of the 2020 election in Wisconsin over to private partisan interests, in the form of its “partners.”
“We can’t undo the wrongs of the 2020 election,” Kaardal observed, “But it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the corruption that infected Wisconsin’s voting process is rooted out and that the state’s election integrity is preserved. Wisconsin’s voters deserve to know the truth and they need to be assured that the snakes in the grass have been hunted down and eliminated, allowing for fair and honest elections from this point forward.”
The complaint goes on to document how the Center for Tech and Civic Life persuaded officials of Wisconsin’s five largest cities to sign contractual “gift” or “grant” agreements for funds publicly billed as COVID-19 response grants. The filing details evidence of the actions by the self-identified “Wisconsin 5” in contracting to utilize partners, none of whom were health or medical experts, to effect the Wisconsin Safe Voting Plan. This plan, executed as the grant contracts required, had nothing to do with the health and safety of Wisconsin, but rather outsourced the process to partisan “experts” in “election administration.”
In Wisconsin, it is illegal for anyone to take money to induce a voter to go to the polls, and according to the complaint, this was the primary reason that Madison, and the other municipalities of the Wisconsin 5, were given these large sums of money by the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The filed complaint details other irregularities under the illegal agreement, including allowing private, partisan, non-government entities to access to the state’s voter data, redesign voter instruction materials, target selected demographic groups for voter recruitment, promote illegal ballot drop boxes, and even place “voter navigators” to assist individuals with voting. These “voter navigators” would later be “trained and utilized as election inspectors.”
“That means the very people who assisted voters in casting their ballots were the ones responsible for safeguarding those ballots – that’s equivalent of sending the foxes to guard the henhouse,” exclaimed Kaardal.
“The evidence in this complaint is overwhelming and condemning,” stated Kaardal. “Even on the surface, given all benefit of doubt, there is no question that Mayor Rhodes-Conway and Clerk Witzel-Behl accepted private money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life to facilitate in-person and absentee voting in Madison. This is in violation of Wisconsin election law.”
“The actions of Madison’s mayor and city clerk, along with city officials in Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, and Green Bay should outrage Wisconsin voters,” declared Kaardal. And apparently, they have, as complaints have been filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission against each of the Wisconsin 5 municipalities.
“Voting is a privilege, paid for with the price of freedom,” added Kaardal. “It is not something to be sold to the highest bidder. This mayor and city clerk traded away the rights of voters to participate in a free and fair election. They exchanged freedom for cash, selling off control of Wisconsin’s 2020 election to a well-funded coalition of special interest groups. That’s election bribery, pure and simple – and it’s wrong.”
Read the Complaint filed March 17, 2022, in the State of Wisconsin before the Elections Commission by Thomas More Society attorneys, on behalf of a Madison, Wisconsin, voter against Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, alleging election bribery in violation of Wisconsin Statutes § 12.11 here [https://thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Madison-Election-Bribery-Complaint-File-Copy-3-17-22.pdf].
About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, religious liberty, and election integrity. Headquartered in Chicago and with offices across the country, Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high-quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, please visit thomasmoresociety.org.
The Thomas More Society officially launched its own Election Integrity Initiative in 2022 to preserve and protect Americans’ sacred right to vote against those who would use money or other illegal means such as conditional “gift” or “grant” agreements to distort, evade or compromise electoral laws and safeguards.
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