Wisconsin GOP Clinging Bitterly To What Power They Can

In 2022, Fred Prehn, whom Scott Walker had appointed to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, at the urging of the Republicans, refused to leave his position even though his term expired. The conservative-controlled state supreme court ruled that he could remain in that position until either he resigned or a new person was nominated and confirmed. Of course, it just so happened that the Republicans refused to confirm anyone that Governor Tony Evers nominated. Prehn finally resigned when Evers won his second term.

However, this ruling ended up biting the Republicans in the ass when the Democrats used it to protect Wisconsin Elections Director Meagan Wolfe. The Republicans wanted to scapegoat Wolfe for Donald Trump losing the state in 2020 and were repeatedly trying to terminate her.

Ever since then, Wisconsin Republicans have been throwing one long temper tantrum, including firing two University of Wisconsin regents and repeatedly rejecting almost all of Evers’s nominees, regardless of their qualifications.

Now, we have another Walker appointee, Robert Atwell, refusing to leave the Board of Regents at the advice of Speaker Robin Vos:

But in an email this week, Atwell wrote that, acting on the advice of Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, he intends to stay on the board indefinitely.

WisPolitics first reported on the existence of the email sent from Atwell to UW leaders, including UW System President Jay Rothman.

“Speaker Vos brought to my attention that the statute directs that, in the absence of a resignation regents remain in office until their successor is appointed and confirmed,” Atwell wrote using his business email for Nicolet Bank. “Jay has recently confirmed this understanding. In light of that, I will remain on the Board until I resign or my successor is seated. I hope that my temporary continuation as a regent can support good communication between the Legislative Council and the BOR.”

A successor to Atwell would need to be appointed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and confirmed by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Senate.

Given the current behavior of the state Republicans, it is doubtful anything can be done at the moment. Hopefully, with the new legislative maps, we will see a more balanced legislature and less recalcitrant group of Republicans so that the people’s work can be resumed.

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