The Republican commissioner of the Wisconsin Elections Commission abruptly resigned Wednesday, arguing party leaders didn't want him in the post because he believes former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.
Dean Knudson resigned just before the six-member panel was set to vote on a new chair and forced a delay on the vote, arguing he "cannot be effective in [his] role representing Republicans on the commission" because of his split with the party.
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"Two of my core values are to practice service above self and to display personal integrity. And to me, that integrity demands acknowledging the truth even when the truth is painful. In this case, the painful truth is that President Trump lost the election in 2020 — lost the election in Wisconsin in 2020. And the loss was not due to election fraud," he told members of the commission, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The commissioner plans to leave the panel as soon as Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announces a replacement. Vos has previously expressed irritation at the commission for its handling of the 2020 election during the coronavirus pandemic.
Knudson conceded that voter fraud takes place in most elections but stressed it was not enough to account for the margins of Trump's electoral losses in 2020. He touted his conservative bona fides and said he would put his record up against that of "anyone in the state of Wisconsin," but he drew a line at election denialism.
"And unfortunately now, elected officials, appointed officials, and candidates at the highest levels in my party have refused to believe that President Trump lost," Knudson continued, according to WPR. "Even worse, some have peddled misinformation and perpetuated falsehoods about the 2020 election. This is really unfortunate because Republicans across Wisconsin did just fine at all other levels in the 2020 election."
Knudson was appointed to the six-member panel by Vos and even helped design the commission in 2015. His term was set to expire in 2024. The commission is a bipartisan agency that oversees elections in the Badger State by administering campaign finance laws and election ethics provisions.
Wisconsin established the Wisconsin Elections Commission as the successor to the state's Government Accountability Board, which was a nonpartisan panel. Every two years, the chairmanship for the panel is rotated between Republicans and Democrats. It is Republicans' term to head the commission, comprised of three Republican and three Democratic members, including Knudson.
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Many Republicans in the state have been critical of the commission, with some Republican gubernatorial candidates in the state suggesting the panel be abolished. Knudson has faced criticism from his party for supporting a policy to suspend an in-person voting program for nursing homes and making the use of mail-in ballots for nursing home facilities easier during the pandemic.
The commission voted to postpone the election for its new chair until its June 10 session, taking Knudson's suggestion it hold off until a successor is named.