An Ozaukee County judge has found the three Dem members of the Elections Commission in contempt for failing to strike the registrations of as many as 209,000 voters who may have moved.
The state Department of Justice had urged Judge Paul Malloy to hold off issuing any sanction while an appeal of his order works its way through the courts.
But Malloy on Monday fined Commissioners Mark Thompsen, Ann Jacobs and Julie Glancey each $250 per day until the Wisconsin Elections Commission complies with his December order; the order mandated the deactivation of voters who may have moved but did not respond to an October mailing enquiring about their status.
Malloy also issued a $50 per day fine to the Elections Commission until it is in compliance with his order.
“I can’t be any clearer than this: they need to follow my order,” he said.
Thompsen, Jacobs and Glancey blocked a motion during WEC’s December meeting to comply with Malloy’s order. At the time, the trio noted that Malloy had ruled but not yet issued a formal order. They also cited a potential appeal by the state Department of Justice that could result in a stay of the deactivation order.
Assistant Attorney General Karla Keckhaver Monday argued commissioners were right to not deactivate voters, because a pending appeal of the case to the state Supreme Court, as well as a federal suit alleging deactivation would violate due process rights, could result in a stay of that order.
That appeal, as well as a request to stay the order, was originally filed in a Madison-based appellate court. But the request for a stay was declined after the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty petitioned the state Supreme Court to directly take the appeal. The justices have yet to act on the bypass petition or the request for a stay.
WILL President Rick Esenberg urged Malloy to act while the appeal is pending.
“What’s happened here is the defendants are trying to help themselves to the relief that this court denied and that the court of appeals and Wisconsin Supreme Court have not granted them,” he said.
Malloy sided with Esenberg, noting an appeal by itself “does not stay the enforcement of an order unless it’s expressly provided somewhere by law.”
Malloy also knocked “condescending” comments made by an unnamed commissioner in a radio interview. He alleged the official said Malloy’s order was “one guy’s interpretation of the statute.”
“Sure, it’s one guy’s interpretation, but he’s a judge, that’s what he’s paid to do,” he said. “What happens to our justice system if people say that’s just one guy’s interpretation? What happens when people no longer come to court when they are subpoenaed? Our justice system will cease to work.”