By Shereen Siewert
A Wausau man is one of 10 plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Reps. Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany that aims to hold the three Republican politicians accountable for interfering with the election of Joe Biden as president.
James Botsford, who does not belong to any political party, said he became involved in the lawsuit because he saw their attempt to “subvert the will of the people by using fake electors” as a frontal attack on the integrity of our voting system. The lawsuit was filed in Milwaukee earlier this month by the firm of Laffey, Leitner and Goode.
“I believe in this democracy we have,” Botsford told Wausau Pilot & Review. “This attempt would void my vote and the vote of many other people in Wisconsin. The people perpetuating this plot must be held accountable in order to preserve our integrity.”
The lawsuit alleges that Johnson, Tiffany and Fitzgerald repeatedly conspired with others and spread falsehoods that undermined public faith in Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, actions that make the lawmakers insurrectionists.
In weeks prior to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, Johnson, Tiffany, and Fitzgerald said they would object to certifying Electoral College results confirming that Biden had defeated Donald Trump in the election.
That, the plaintiffs say, is a violation of the Disqualification Cause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Disqualification Clause prevents anyone who has violated the Constitution by taking part in insurrection against the U.S. from holding public office. The clause was enacted after the Civil War to prevent members of Congress who had fought for the Confederacy from returning to their positions as lawmakers.
“The falsehoods of Johnson, Fitzgerald, and Tiffany about the integrity of Wisconsin’s election procedures began even before citizens were allowed to cast their ballots in the 2020 Presidential Election and continued long after their lies were disproven,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit seeks to have the three lawmakers removed from ballots before they are up for election.
The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC is backing the lawsuit. The Super PAC backed legal action previously, filing federal lawsuits against Wisconsin school districts that refused to adopt COVID-19 safeguards.
Kirk Bangstad, who founded the Super PAC, said he is supporting the lawsuit because neither the U.S. Justice Department nor Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul have taken legal action against the three Republican lawmakers.
“If we can’t do something now, there is not enough time to get these guys off the ballot,” said Bangstad—a 2020 candidate for state Assembly—said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “If these guys broke the law, they should be held accountable.”
Botsford said he was unfamiliar with the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC before joining in the lawsuit and only learned about the group afterward.
“I’m just a citizen,” Botsford said. “Sowing doubt and confusion in order to facilitate fake electors is a threat to our democracy and I want to see people held accountable for their actions.”
Both Reps. Fitzgerald and Tiffany voted against accepting Biden’s presidential electors from two states. Johnson initially objected to counting one state’s electors, but changed his mind after the U.S. Capitol riot. All three men have defended their actions.
Wausau Pilot & Review reached out to Sen. Johnson as well as Reps. Fitzgerald and Tiffany for comment but did not receive responses from any of the three lawmakers or their representatives.