Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and his staff are “coordinating with Democratic Party operatives in a sweeping get-out-the-vote campaign.”
That’s according to The Federalist, which reported on Monday that bombshell text messages obtained by an open record request from Republican state Rep. Janel Brandtjen show that Johnson and Democratic Party operative Sachin Chheda were colluding “to rig the 2022 election.”
The communications show Chheda telling Johnson and his staff what to say about the supposedly non-partisan Milwaukee Votes 2022 get-out-the-vote campaign, which is funded by a left-wing activist group with close ties to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a leftist nonprofit funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, according to the conservative online magazine.
“While city officials, under the direction of Chheda, have said Milwaukee is not receiving any private funding for the effort, two things are clear: The mayor’s office is taking orders from Democratic Party operatives, and the city of Milwaukee is coordinating with left-wing groups in what looks like an expensive effort to influence the outcome of November’s election,” The Federalist reported.
Johnson’s spokesman Jeff Fleming asked Chheda in a text message sent earlier this month if they are “coordinating all vote events with your group?”
“Based on the media frenzy yesterday, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he added.
“When I don’t have information we can’t coordinate,” Chheda fired back. “I’m not saying every event would be with us, but if you can let me know what’s going on, then I can answer questions and plan. So yes, I do want to know everything related to voting.”
As the article pointed out, the exchange came after Johnson said at a press conference that the city was assisting with the “Milwaukee Votes 2022” effort funded by private grants and that the city would soon be launching a widget on its website related to the GOTV campaign.
“Why would the mayor’s office and Milwaukee’s top election official be working with Democratic operatives on a claimed “nonpartisan” GOTV campaign?” asked The Federalist’s M.D. Kittle. “That’s the purview of political parties, not cities. It certainly isn’t — and shouldn’t be — the responsibility of a city’s election administrators.
Another text exchange from Chheda shows the Democratic operative setting up meetings at the Milwaukee Election Commission office centered on Milwaukee Votes 2022.
“Good morning! I’m hoping the four of us can connect early this afternoon about Monday’s event and looking ahead,” she wrote in a text that included Melissa Baldauff, Gov. Tony Evers’ former communications director and principal with GPS Impact, with The Federalist stating that Baldauff and the marketing outfit “are or were involved in the GOTV initiative.”
GPS Impact touts on its website that they have helped “Democrats, progressive organizations and initiatives, and elected officials win in red states.”
The text chain also included Fleming and Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission — here’s more from The Federalist:
“Claire, Could we gather at City Hall at 1:30 to chat? I think 30 minutes would be enough,” Chheda asks.
“Fine by me. Where at CH?” Fleming responds.
“Claire’s office? Claire if that works for you, we will come to your office?” Chheda writes.
Woodall-Vogg responds, “Good for me.”
“OK, just to confirm we are meeting at Claire’s office, the election commission, at 1:30 PM today, 5th floor city hall. I’m not sending a calendar invite, see you there,” Chheda orders.
“Agenda will include content of remarks for Monday, from various sources, as well as figuring out the plan on the advisory and pitching. We also want to make sure we’re informing our stakeholders and partners. Claire can you please send me those materials we discussed, the list of groups that you’re talking to, and anything from the Milwaukee Votes event from earlier this year.”
The elections official reportedly wrote in an email to Peggy Creer, president of the League of Women Voters Milwaukee County, in mid-August: “I am happy to report that Sachin Chheda’s nonprofit-nonpartisan organization is taking the lead for the mayor. I’ve copied him in the hopes that you two can connect.”
Last week, the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court challenging the “Milwaukee Votes 2022” initiative.
“The Republican Party of Wisconsin is deeply concerned that cities like Milwaukee are working with Democrat operatives and partisan third party groups to get out the vote in a manner designed to tip the scales for Democrats,” Mark Jefferson, executive director of the RPW said in a statement. “Government’s role in elections must be to ensure fairness and transparency, not to benefit one party at the expense of another, and we will aggressively fight to ensure that election laws are followed.”
Chheda would instruct the mayor’s spokesman on how to respond.
“There are nonprofit, nonpartisan groups who are canvassing door to door, funded entirely by civic-minded philanthropists, to encourage Milwaukeeans to vote. The city is neither funding nor receiving funds to canvass, and the mayor is voicing his support for the city’s partnership with these nonprofit, nonpartisan groups who are mobilizing voters,” the operative told Flemings to say in a release, according to The Federalist.
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