By Peter Cameron | The Badger Project
Rejecting an attempt by some in their own party, Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher and six other Republican House members said Congress has no authority in an election other than to count votes from the states, in a statement released Sunday.
Some Republicans in Congress — including Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson — plan to make a futile attempt Wednesday to block the certification of President-Elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win.
Gallagher, an occasional Trump critic and a former U.S. Marine, represents the northeast corner of the state that includes Green Bay. He joined with other Republican members of Congress — Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Ken Buck (R-CO), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Chip Roy (R-TX), and Nancy Mace (R-SC) — to note that, according to the Constitution, Congress has no authority “to make value judgments in the abstract regarding any state’s election laws or the manner in which they have been implemented.”
“To take action otherwise – that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process – would amount to stealing power from the people and the states,” the seven representatives said in one portion of the statement.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed that he won the election, while failing to provide any evidence. Recounts and audits in multiple states where Biden narrowly won, including Wisconsin, have reaffirmed that outcome, and the Trump Campaign has repeatedly lost in courts across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court, when trying to overturn the election or throw out ballots.
Gallagher and the other signers of the statement opened the letter by claiming they are “outraged at the significant abuses in our election system resulting from the reckless adoption of mail-in ballots and the lack of safeguards maintained to guarantee that only legitimate votes are cast and counted.”
Through a spokesman, Gallagher declined to be interviewed for this story, but on a Monday radio interview with 620 WTMJ he noted that states “don’t have laws for every single (election) scenario.”
“In Wisconsin’s case, we created an Election Commission,” he said Monday. “The Election Commission provided guidance. In many cases, it was bad guidance. In many cases, I think people abused that guidance or ambiguity or the complacency of both the Commission and the legislature….”
Republicans control the legislature in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Elections Commission consists of three Republicans and three Democrats. They often deadlock on contentious issues. And in a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin rejected the Trump Campaign’s challenges to the election in the state, saying they were without merit or could have come before the election, rather than after.
James Simmons, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, said Gallagher “is trying to have it both ways.”
“He wants to confirm Trump’s claims of election fraud, administrative abuse and voting irregularities without challenging the electoral vote outcome,” Simmons continued. “I suspect he has ambitions for higher office and does not want to alienate either the Trump rural base or mainstream suburban conservatives.”
Congressmen and women from the contested states in the presidential election, which includes Gallagher in Wisconsin, “are questioning the validity of their own elections,” Simmons noted. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives must run for reelection every two years, so all had to run in 2020.
In the statement released by Gallagher and the others, they note that, “from a purely partisan perspective,” a Republican candidate for president has won the popular vote just once in the last 32 years.
“They have therefore depended on the electoral college for nearly all presidential victories in the last generation. If we perpetuate the notion that Congress may disregard certified electoral votes—based solely on its own assessment that one or more states mishandled the presidential election—we will be delegitimizing the very system that led Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024,” the wrote.
Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican and former Speaker of the House, called the attempt by some Republican lawmakers to block Biden as “anti-democratic and anti-conservative,” in another statement released Sunday.
“The Trump campaign had ample opportunity to challenge election results, and those efforts failed from lack of evidence,” he said. “The legal process was exhausted, and the results were decisively confirmed. The Department of Justice, too, found no basis for overturning the result. If states wish to reform their processes for future elections, that is their prerogative. But Joe Biden’s victory is entirely legitimate.”
The Badger Project is a nonpartisan, citizen-supported journalism nonprofit in Wisconsin.