A group of citizens from Wisconsin — as well as a brewing company in the state — are suing to disqualify three Republican candidates for office, arguing that they played a role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and thus aided and engaged in an insurrection against the United States.
The lawsuit requests that a federal judge rule that Republican Reps. Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald, as well as Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, are insurrectionists. All three Republicans represent Wisconsin, and are up for reelection in this year’s midterm elections.
The challenge is similar to one being waged against Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican from North Carolina, who faces eligibility questions from 11 residents in that state who say that he should be barred from running again due to his participation in the events of January 6, 2021.
Ten residents of Wisconsin, as well as the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC, are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“These guys broke the law and shouldn’t be on a ballot again,” Kirk Bangstad, owner of the brewing company, said in a statement.
Bangstad, who is also running as a Democrat in a state Assembly race later this year, added:
It’s weird for a brewery to be pushing things in a political sense, but that’s where we are because we feel like there’s not enough intestinal fortitude among some of our higher up legislators or Justice Department officials to be doing what we’re doing right now.
Gerard Lisi, a resident of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and one of the 10 Wisconsinites listed in the lawsuit, noted that the lies about election fraud that the three Republicans peddled on behalf of former President Donald Trump led residents in his area to wrongly believe that the election had been stolen.
“Where I live in this part of the country, way too many of my friends and neighbors are very, very upset. They believe passionately that the election was stolen from Trump,” Lisi said. “They are taking cues from guys like Tiffany and Johnson.”
Johnson responded to the challenge by decrying it as “a frivolous lawsuit” against him. But in the days before the attack on the U.S. Capitol building, Johnson was deeply involved in strategizing with the Trump campaign, even attending a meeting regarding the fake electors plot to ensure that Trump remain in office despite his loss to current President Joe Biden.
Fitzgerald also played a direct role in the plot to use fake electors’ votes to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. An open records request, filed earlier this year by Democratic state Sen. Chris Larson, showed that Fitzgerald, who served as majority leader of the state Senate in December 2020, facilitated the counting of fake electors in the state by reserving a room in the state Capitol building where those individuals counted their phony ballots.
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution disallows lawmakers who have previously taken an oath to the United States, and who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S., from running for office or serving in government again, unless Congress votes to reinstate their eligibility by a two-thirds vote of each house.
However, that amendment is ambiguous when it comes to who determines whether a person engaged in insurrection or not, which could potentially obstruct the Wisconsin lawsuit’s success. It’s unclear whether a federal judge can make that determination — and as one observer noted, any challenges that do come about, such as those against the Wisconsin lawmakers and Cawthorn, are likely to be “a hot mess.”
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