MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers faced bipartisan calls Thursday to fire the staffer who secretly recorded a private telephone meeting between the governor and Republican legislative leaders last month.
Evers wouldn’t say what action, if any, was being taken against his staff member who recorded it. Audio of the call was released under an open records request.
“I did not know about it,” Evers said of the recording during a news conference Thursday. “A staffer wanted help in taking notes and that’s why that staffer did that. I will not discuss personnel issues in public. Needless to say, the practice has ended with this one time.”
The Republicans on the call, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, said the staff member who recorded it should be fired. Democratic Rep. Jonathan Brostoff also said the person should be fired.
“I don’t give a damn about what letter is next to someone’s name, this is unacceptable,” Brostoff tweeted.
He also called for Vos to resign because, during the meeting with Evers, Vos blamed an outbreak of the coronavirus in Racine County on immigrants. On the recording, Vos said the outbreak occurred among “a large immigrant population where it’s just a difference in culture where people are living much closer and working much closer.”
Across the country, states reporting racial data indicate higher rates of positive cases of the virus among the Latino population. In Wisconsin, about 33% of the cases and deaths from COVID-19 are among Hispanics and Latinos even though they make up just 7% of the state’s population.
Wisconsin law allows for telephone calls to be recorded as long as one party involved knows about it. The meeting between Evers and Republicans focused on the path forward after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state’s stay-at-home order.
Republicans accused Evers of violating their trust. Rich Zipperer, who served as former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s chief of staff, said Walker didn’t record his meetings with lawmakers.