Top WI GOPer: ‘No Need’ To Apologize For Blaming COVID Outbreak On Immigrants

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) addresses the Assembly during a contentious legislative session on December 4, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)
June 11, 2020 12:38 p.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) isn’t sorry for blaming immigrants for a spike in COVID-19 cases in his district during a meeting on the outbreak with Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) last month.

“There’s no need to apologize,” Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday. “This is once again people trying to look and make something out of a conversation that was ‘how do we deal with the coronavirus?'”

In an audio tape of the May 14 meeting secretly recorded and released on Wednesday by Evers’ staff, the GOP leader is heard discussing what he believed to be the cause of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I know the reason at least in my region is because of a large immigrant population where it’s just a difference in culture where people are living much closer and working much closer,” Vos told the governor and Fitzgerald.

The Assembly speaker brushed off criticism over his remark on Thursday, arguing that Evers’ staff secretly taping their meeting was the real controversy.

“I’m not going to get into this when the story is actually Gov. Evers choosing to secretly record the Legislature and doing it in a way that’s never been done before,” Vos said in his interview with the Journal Sentinel.

Evers addressed the incident during a press briefing several hours later on Thursday when a reporter asked if he believed Vos ought to apologize for his remark.

The governor said he had not heard the speaker’s comment at the time.

“I did not listen to the tape, so I have a difficult time commenting on whether he should apologize or not,” he told the reporter.

Evers also said he wasn’t aware that the discussion was being recorded at the time.

Melissa Baldauff, a spokesperson for Evers, said in a statement on Wednesday that the recording was “intended for internal use only to inform detailed note taking and planning next steps.”

“This was not intended for release to the media or anyone else, however, we were obligated to comply with the open records law to release these records once they were requested,” she said.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world). (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: