RACINE COUNTY, WI – A Wisconsin Sheriff is recommending that formal criminal charges be brought against five elections commissioners because they instructed clerks to ignore state law during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, aides at the Ridgewood Care Facility in Mount Pleasant filled out ballots on behalf of the residents, some of whom were not considered mentally competent to vote including those who had never voted before in prior elections, according to Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, and Sgt. Michael J. Luell, who investigated the case, and both of whom suspect the same in other care facilities statewide.
Sheriff Christopher Schmaling announced last week that he wants charges brought against Commissioners Marge Bostelmann, Julie Glancey, Ann Jacobs, Dean Knudson and Mark Thomsen, including misconduct in public office and election fraud – both felonies – and three misdemeanor counts of being a party to a crime. Thomsen, Jacobs and Glancey are Democrats; Knudson and Bostelmann are Republicans.
Schmaling is not seeking charges against staff of the Ridgewood Care Facility in Mount Pleasant – the nursing home where workers are alleged to have filled out ballots for eight residents – or the election clerks who followed instructions issued by commissioners not to enter the facility.
Sheriff Schmaling stated, based upon multiple questions from various news organizations concerning the status of the Voter Integrity investigation that was explained in a news conference on October 28, 2021, the Sheriff’s Office is again calling on Attorney General Josh Kaul to conduct a statewide investigation into the illegal directives issued by the Wisconsin Election Commission. In the directives, the Wisconsin Election Commission ordered the voting clerks in every municipality in the state to “not use the Special Voting Deputy ‘process’” as required by Wis. Stat. § 6.875.
Based upon the failure of Attorney General Josh Kaul to initiate a statewide investigation, I have forwarded charging recommendations to the Racine County District Attorney’s Office for their review. The recommended charges are for Commissioners Margaret Bostelmann, Julie Glancey, Ann Jacobs, Dean Knudson, and Mark Thomsen.
The recommended charges are the same for each commissioner, and include:
• Misconduct in Public Office in violation of Wis. Stat. § 946.12(2) (Felony)
• Election Fraud – Election Official Assisting with Violations in violation of Wis. Stat. § 12.13(2)(b)7 (Felony)
• Party to the Crime of Election Fraud – Receive Ballot Non-Election Official in violation of Wis. Stat. § 12.13(3)(n) (Misdemeanor)
• Party to the Crime of Election Fraud – Illegal Ballot Receipt in violation of Wis. Stat. § 12.13(3)(p) (Misdemeanor)
• Party to the Crime of Election Fraud – Solicit Assistance in violation of Wis. Stat. § 12.13(3)(s) (Misdemeanor)
The reasons for the recommended charges were clearly explained during the October 28, 2021, news conference and in the supporting documentation.Racine County Sheriffs Office
The charges were referred to the Racine County District Attorney who is led by Patricia J. Hanson.
However, Attorney General Josh Kaul was highly critical of Schmaling after he made his announcement, denouncing the sheriff’s call for charges as a “publicity stunt” and “an abuse of authority.”
“This disgraceful publicity stunt shows an appalling lack of judgment,” Kaul said. “This is a transparently political effort and an abuse of authority.”
In response to Schmaling’s initial allegations, made during a press conference held in late October, the five Elections Commissioners released a joint statement, denying that they had done anything illegal.
“To put it simply, we did not break the law,” the statement read. “In fact, without action from the Commission, many residents in Wisconsin care facilities could have and would have been disenfranchised and not able to vote in the 2020 elections.”
The day before Schmaling’s call for changes, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said that charges should be brought against nursing home worker or local clerks who have broken election laws, but that he saw no reason to assume issues related to voting happened at other nursing homes throughout the state.
“It’s not something that should be made more complex by the politics,” Evers said. “Somebody screwed up, they should be prosecuted. Simple as that.”