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Kleefisch: 'Premature' to say whether she'd allow legislature to overturn election results

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Kleefisch

MADISON (WKOW) -- The frontrunner to be the Republican challenger to Gov. Tony Evers next fall declined to say Friday whether, as governor, she would sign a bill that made lawmakers the ultimate decider of who won an election.

When asked if she'd sign such legislation were she to take the state's highest office, Rebecca Kleefisch said she hadn't seen any bill language drafted proposing to give election certification powers to the legislature.

"So I think it would probably be awfully premature for me to comment on a bill that hasn't even been drafted nor an idea that I've heard floated," Kleefisch said.

In January, a Republican state representative in Arizona drafted a bill that would allow lawmakers to overturn the results of a presidential election. Rep. Shawnna Bolick of Phoenix proposed authorizing the legislature to strip away the secretary of state's ability to name the state's presidential electors. 

The legislative session in Arizona ended without Bolick's bill receiving a vote. Lawmakers there did pass a bill that took the responsibility of defending lawsuits away from the secretary of state, currently a Democrat, and instead gave it to the attorney general who's currently a Republican.

In December, PBS Wisconsin reported two Republican state representatives in Wisconsin, Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz) and Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay), joined a lawsuit arguing state legislatures should have the final word on certifying a state's election results. A federal judge dismissed the suit in January. 

Wisconsin lawmakers have not proposed a bill similar to the one that failed to advance in Arizona.

"You're talking about an idea that I have never heard discussed among legislators or even the folks I'm talking to across the state," Kleefisch said. "So for me to try and comment on future bill language that hasn't been drafted would be awfully premature and kind of irresponsible."

Ann Jacobs, a Democratic appointee on the six-member Wisconsin Elections Commission who now serves as the WEC Chair, described the Arizona bill and the lawsuit Mursau and Steffen joined as "anti-American and anti-democratic."

"Any political candidate who makes that a policy or refuses to denounce it is refusing to denounce everything that is anathema to our American way of life," Jacobs said.

Earlier this week, the Assembly-appointed investigator into how Wisconsin conducted the November election issued subpoenas to the mayors in the state's five biggest cities before walking back the request for documents and testimony in at least some of the municipalities according to Madison City Attorney Michael Haas. 

Messages for the appointed Special Counsel, former state supreme court justice Mike Gableman, were not immediately returned. Gableman's operation is receiving $676,000 in taxpayer money. 

Following dozens of legal challenges and recounts in the state's two most populous counties, courts have maintained President Joe Biden won Wisconsin last November by more than 20,000 votes.