Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Thursday disciplined a lawmaker who falsely claimed that former President Donald Trump won the battleground state and that he wanted to award the state's electoral votes to him, even though that is not possible.
Vos, R-Rochester, removed the lone staff member assigned to Rep. Timothy Ramthun, R-Campbellsport. The move was first reported by WisPolitics.com and confirmed Thursday by Vos' office.
The move to discipline Ramthun, who has vocally advocated election conspiracy theories, came after he falsely accused Vos of signing a deal with attorneys for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to authorize absentee ballot drop boxes, Vos's office said.
"After extensive caucus discussions and dozens of members expressing their displeasure with Representative Ramthun and his staff for using state resources to spread bold-faced lies to people outside of his district, the decision was made to move his staff," Vos's spokeswoman Angela Joyce said.
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Every lawmaker gets at least one staff member to answer the phones, respond to emails, handle scheduling and deal with other tasks associated with holding office. Now Ramthun faces doing all of that work himself.
Ramthun did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Ramthun also proposed a resolution this week to "reclaim" Wisconsin's 10 electoral college votes and recorded a message that demanded lawmakers take action on it. Attorneys for the Legislature have said it is impossible to do what Ramthun wants.
Vos briefly addressed the issue at a news conference Thursday, while he defended an ongoing investigation that he ordered into the 2020 election.
"We have said over and over that our election review is only to add and figure out the way that there were issues in 2020 going forward," Vos said. "But every member has a right to their own beliefs. … Even though every lawyer that we have worked with in Wisconsin says we cannot undo the 2020 elections, Representative Ramthun has that belief. That's his right."
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, refused to address a question specifically about the action taken against Ramthun.
The pushback against one of the most conservative Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly comes as Vos tries to balance calls from some who believe President Joe Biden stole the election against those who say it's an effort to continue the lie that Trump won. Biden beat Trump by nearly 21,000 votes, an outcome that has withstood recounts, lawsuits and multiple reviews.
Vos ordered an investigation into the election, paid for with $676,000 in taxpayer funds, under pressure from Trump to do more. That review led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is ongoing and subject to multiple lawsuits, even though Vos has said he wants it to be done next month so the Legislature can vote on recommendations in March.
Ramthun and Gableman both attended a symposium last year in South Dakota by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell where election conspiracy theories were discussed.