The former staffer to a Wisconsin state Republican senator who went public last month with accusations that the state’s voter ID law was passed by GOPers looking for a political advantage elaborated on the claims in federal court Monday and identified the previously unnamed legislators he said were gleeful over the law.
Todd Allbaugh, testifying in a case challenging the law, named then-Sens. Mary Lazich, Glenn Grothman, Leah Vukmir and Randy Hopper as being “giddy” in a 2011 private caucus meeting about passing the bill, the Journal Sentinel reported. Allbaugh previously confirmed to TPM that Grothman, now a U.S. congressman, was among the state legislators who cheered the political implications of the voter ID requirement — which opponents say disenfranchise minorities and lower income people — after Grothman told a local TV station it would help Republicans win the state in 2016.
According to Allbaugh’s testimony Monday, Grothman said at the 2011 meeting, “‘What I’m concerned about here is winning and that’s what really matters here. … We better get this done quickly while we have the opportunity.”
Lazich, meanwhile, “got up out of her chair and hit her fist or her finger on the table,” Allbaugh recounted, and said, “‘Hey, we’ve got to think about what this would mean for the neighborhoods around Milwaukee and the college campuses.'” Milwaukee is a minority-majority city.
Allbaugh also identified a handful of Republicans who were visibly uncomfortable — “ashen-faced” in Allbaugh’s account — over the bill. His boss at the time, then-Sen. Dale Schultz, had already left the meeting due to his objections to the legislation. Schultz has resisted confirming or denying Allbaugh’s account of the meeting but has indicated he believed Allbaugh to be trustworthy.
Allbaugh also said in his testimony Monday that Grothman had contacted Allbaugh after he made the initial claims to tell him the ex-staffer was not remembering things correctly.
“Here’s the thing, I fundamentally believe that Democrats cheat, and I don’t believe our side does, and that’s why we need this bill,” Grothman told Allbaugh, according to Allbaugh’s account as reported by WisPolitics.com.
The state Attorney General’s office, which is defending the law, dismissed the testimony as “hearsay” and said it should not be relevant to the case, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
“These are very serious claims and they require very concrete proof,” Assistant Attorney General Clay Kawski told Judge James D. Peterson.