15 Wisconsin Republicans asked Pence to block Biden’s victory the day before the attack on the Capitol

MADISON – Fifteen Wisconsin lawmakers asked Vice President Mike Pence to put off certifying the presidential results a day before a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.

The 15 Wisconsin Republicans were joined by 76 lawmakers from other states who sought a 10-day delay so they could get state legislatures in battleground states to overturn the election results and hand President Donald Trump a second term. 

The liberal Wisconsin Examiner first reported on the letter Thursday.

Among those signing the letter were Rep. Jeff Mursau of Crivitz, who signed onto a doomed lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results, and Rep. Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls, the new chairwoman of the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee. 

Rep. Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls, left, and Rep. Jeff Mursau of Crivitz.

The others signing the letter were Sen. André Jacque of De Pere and Reps. Rob Brooks of Saukville, Rick Gundrum of Slinger, Cody Horlacher of Mukwonago, Dan Knodl of Germantown, Gae Magnafici of Dresser, Dave Murphy of Greenville, Timothy Ramthun of Campbellsport, Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin, Michael Schraa of Oshkosh, Shae Sortwell of Gibson, Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Fond du Lac and Chuck Wichgers of Muskego.

Their Jan. 5 letter acknowledged federal law required Pence to preside over Congress on Jan. 6 to determine who won the Electoral College, but they argued Pence could ignore that deadline. 

“This congressionally set deadline, however, is not the supreme law of the land, and in fact must not supersede our state legislative authority under the Constitution,” they wrote.

A pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to prevent the presidency from being given to Biden. The attack sent members of the House and Senate into hiding for hours before they could declare Biden the winner. 

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, a Democrat from Oshkosh, said the Wisconsin Republicans had pushed for insurrection.

‘This letter calls for sedition’

“This letter calls for sedition, plain and simple,” Hintz said in a statement. “Making the same refuted claims 63 days after the election, and the day before the well-orchestrated coup led by the president, can only be viewed as part of the same dangerous threat. It should disgust all Wisconsinites that Republican state legislators attached their names to something so false and so dangerous.”

Brandtjen said Hintz’s allegations were over the top. 

“If you’re talking about rebuilding voter integrity, let’s not start off the year by charging sedition of those people who are asking questions,” Brandtjen said Thursday. “The letter asks for an investigation and I think asking for an investigation is not sedition.”

She did not directly answer whether she believed Biden won Wisconsin, as nonpartisan election officials and courts found. She said she had questions about the election but came short of saying Trump had won the state. 

She criticized a policy that allowed about 215,000 Wisconsinites to vote absentee without providing a copy of a photo ID because they said they were indefinitely confined because of age or disability.

“I just don’t think you can pretend that these things didn’t add a lot of doubt to the election,” she said. 

There was a large increase in 2020 in voters who said they were indefinitely confined. Supporters of the indefinite confinement law say that isn’t surprising when the coronavirus pandemic has raised health concerns for many voters. 

Asked if she thought repeatedly questioning the election results contributed to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Brandtjen said: “I think asking questions for review is not a seditious act.”

Brandtjen said as chairwoman of the elections committee she planned to continue to investigate how the election was conducted and write legislation changing some election rules. She did not specify what legislation she wants to pass, but Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has said he would veto bills that would make it harder to vote.

“I think it’s something we’re going to be working on for a while,” she said. 

Mursau did not immediately respond to questions Thursday.

Mursau and Republican Rep. David Steffen of Howard signed on a lawsuit last month that sought to overturn the results in Wisconsin and other battleground states. A federal judge threw out the case after finding it was full of errors, brought in bad faith and ignored the Constitution. He is considering penalizing their attorney for bringing the lawsuit.

Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.