MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin business leaders, past and present, hope a Dane County judge will let state Elections Administrator Meagan Wolfe keep her job.

Last week, a group called Wisconsin Business Leaders for Democracy, along with the Leadership Now Project, made their arguments in an amicus brief filed with the court before the Thanksgiving holiday.

What You Need To Know

  • Last week, Wisconsin business leaders filed a friend of the court brief that argued Administrator Meagan Wolfe can and should remain in her position

  • The brief is in response to a filing in a Dane Co. lawsuit by Republican legislative leaders that asks the court to order the Wisconsin Elections Commission to appoint a new administrator

  • Wolfe was first appointed to the commission in 2018 and unanimously confirmed to a four-year term in 2019, but has since faced criticism in the wake of the 2020 election and the spread of misinformation

The brief is in response to a lawsuit filed in Dane County in which Republican legislative leaders have asked the court to require the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to appoint a new administrator.

Back in September, the State Senate voted to fire Meagan Wolfe, who has held that role since she was first appointed in February 2018 and later unanimously confirmed to a four-year term by the GOP-controlled Senate in May 2019. 

However, weeks after the vote, lawmakers acknowledged that it was more of a “symbolic” move with no legal effect.

The business leaders are not party to the lawsuit and filed a so-called “friend of the court” brief to simply take a position and share their opinion with the court that Wolfe can and should stay in her role.

It’s not the first time the group has spoken out in support of Wolfe. Last August, members released a letter backing the state’s top elections official, which was also shared with lawmakers.

“This is why business leaders care because we would like to see the Legislature focus on economic development and competing against our neighboring states for new jobs and new investments, rather than continuing to try to adjudicate an election that has already been investigated umpteen times,” Anoop Prakash, Chair of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Leadership Now Project explained.

Prakash is also concerned about the instability a change could cause going into such a crucial election cycle.

"You're taking out the CEO of the Wisconsin Elections [Commission] during an election, and during a very critical election here in 2024 not only at the primary level but also obviously at the national level," Prakash said.

Wisconsin Business Leaders for Democracy started about two-and-a-half years ago in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

“The goal of our group was to get business leaders from around the state to lend their voice to the discussion in order to protect our great history of democracy in Wisconsin,” Tom Florsheim, Jr., who is Chairman & CEO of Weyco Group, said. “Having a stable democracy here, obviously, is key to having an environment where businesses can thrive.”

The effort is bipartisan and undertaken by Republican and Democrat leaders who were concerned about threats to democracy and felt there were too many attempts by the Legislature to limit access to the polls that they wanted to get involved.

"Everyone has to realize that running elections in a big state like Wisconsin is a complicated process," Florsheim added. "Here we have somebody that ran an election through a pandemic, which has a lot of challenges in itself, that did an exemplary job, and she's received accolades from both Republicans and Democrats."

Meanwhile, a group that has pressured Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to impeach Wolfe is targeting him again.

A group called the Wisconsin Election Committee, not to be confused with the state’s WEC, has recently spent $250,000 on an ad campaign, according to reporting from WisPolitics.

Earlier this fall, the group spent $100,000 on ads threatening recalls and primary challengers of lawmakers they believe are “protective” of Wolfe.