The Capital Times. January 20, 2021.

Editorial: The Wisconsin Legislature has its own ‘sedition caucus’

After President Donald Trump incited a violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol in the deadly siege of Jan. 6, national commentators began referring to the Republican members of Congress who aligned themselves with Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election as the “sedition caucus.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin described the sedition caucus as including “those who signed the brief supporting the lawsuit that would disenfranchise millions of Americans; who raised baseless objections to Arizona or Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes; or who objected to impeaching President Trump.”

“The Sedition Caucus behaved in utterly irresponsible ways inconsistent with their oaths,” Rubin wrote.

But the sedition caucus — which includes Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Reps. Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany — is not just a congressional phenomenon.

The Wisconsin Legislature has a sedition caucus. Fifteen Wisconsin legislators signed a Jan. 5 letter calling on Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the 2020 presidential election results. The letter amplified the lies and conspiracy theories that were advanced by Trump and the rioters he incited as they sought to block the certification of Electoral College votes from states such as Wisconsin that had backed Joe Biden for president.

The Wisconsin legislators who signed the letter were state Reps. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls; Rob Brooks, R-Saukville; Rick Gundrum, R-Slinger, Cody Horlacher, R-Mukwonago; Dan Knodl, R-Germantown; Gae Magnafici, R-Dresser; Dave Murphy, R-Greenville; Jeff Mursau, R-Crivitz; Timothy Ramthun, R-Campbellsport; Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin; Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh; Shae Sortwell, R-Two Rivers; Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac; Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego. State Sen. André Jacque, R-De Pere, also signed on to the letter, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, called his colleagues out in appropriate terms.

“This letter calls for sedition, plain and simple,” Hintz said. “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. The words and actions of elected officials matter. The validation of baseless claims that echo President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election to stay in power contributed to the attack on our democracy.”

Hintz called for the removal of Reps. Brandtjen, Sanfelippo, Thiesfeldt and Murphy from the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee, which is expected to take up Republicans proposals to “reform” — a better word might be “mangle” — Wisconsin election laws in the new legislative session.

“The Speaker should remove these individuals from the Elections Committee immediately,” Hintz said. “Anyone using their elected position to promote the lie that the presidential election was stolen or reckless enough to call for sedition should be kept as far away from Wisconsin’s election laws as possible.”

That is an appropriate demand. If Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, does not honor it, his name should be added to the list of sedition caucus members.


Wisconsin State Journal. January 18, 2021.

Editorial: Just get the vaccine into arms already

Get the COVID-19 vaccines out of the freezers and into people’s arms.

That’s what Wisconsin needs to do faster, with less concern for doling them out in some perfect bureaucratic order.

Of course health professionals deserve the vaccine first. They are the ones treating people for the dangerous disease and exposing themselves to the greatest risk. Of course nursing home residents should be prioritized. Long-term care facilities have suffered more than a quarter of the state’s 5,300 deaths from the virus.

Frontline workers including police, firefighters and first-responders should have early access to inoculation. So should school teachers, so our children can finally get back into classrooms.

But too much of the pandemic-ending medicine is sitting on ice and unused because of no-shows or confusion about how many doses should be delivered to whom. Public health officials shouldn’t waste time with idealistic protocols. Just get those doses into people’s arms as quickly as possible. Don’t obsess over whose arm it is.

State officials shouldn’t overthink this. Set a plan, but allow for plenty of wiggle room to encourage efficiency. The federal government just said anyone 65 and older should now be eligible — advice our state should take.

Wisconsin has been at or near the bottom of a dozen Midwestern states at administering the life-saving injections, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s frustrating and must improve.

Only about 3% of Wisconsin’s population has received at least one of the two shots required for completing inoculation. Other states across the Midwest are doing better. So is the nation as a whole.

Part of the reason our state’s numbers are low, state officials say, is because more doses have to be set aside for a higher population of assisted living residents here. But anecdotally, local health officials say many doses are sitting in freezers rather than being distributed quickly.

Gov. Tony Evers’ administration must insist on speed and volume, not a precise and methodical order based on complicated government instructions.

Some hospitals have started delivering vaccines to any employees who want them — including some who don’t have contact with patients. That should be encouraged, not criticized, so doses aren’t wasted or delayed. And if health providers in Janesville have enough shots for teachers, great. Don’t waste time sending unused vaccine back to the state for redistribution.

The public should eagerly roll up its sleeves to get shots. They are safe. They have proven more than 90% effective in clinical trials.

Please get a shot when you are offered one. The more people who get vaccinated, the sooner our lives can return to normal.