Suppressing the Black Vote. And Bragging About It. Wisconsin Republican faces calls to resign
“We can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.” — Wisconsin Republican official Robert Spindell
But let’s start with this gobsmacking story from my home state of Wisconsin. Some background:
Robert Spindell is longtime GOP activist in Wisconsin, one of those ubiquitous figures who shows up at every Lincoln Day dinner, fundraiser, and meetings of the Republican Bowling and Macrame Club. He is also the chairman of the GOP’s 4th congressional district in Milwaukee, and was one of the fake electors who claimed that Donald Trump won in Wisconsin. Spindell faces three lawsuits for his role in that attempted fraud.
He also, apparently, likes to put things in writing.
Longtime conservative commentator James Wigderson recounts the latest bombshell:
[Getting] away with being a part of Trump's coup attempt wasn't enough for Spindell. In the email, as reported by Urban Milwaukee, Spindell wrote:
“In the City of Milwaukee, with the 4th Congressional District Republican Party working very closely with the RPW, RNC, Republican Assembly & Senate Campaign Committees, Statewide Campaigns and RPMC in the Black and Hispanic areas, we can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”
Indeed, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “Milwaukee had the biggest proportional decline of any municipality in the county… Some 17% fewer ballots were cast in the city than in 2018, a drop off bigger than other communities in the county.”
Spindell wanted to take credit for the decline — especially the decline in Hispanic and Black areas — claiming that it was the result of a “well thought out multi-faceted plan,” that included:
“Biting Black Radio Negative Commercials run last few weeks of the election cycle straight at Dem Candidates…A substantial & very effective Republican Coordinated Election Integrity program resulting with lots of Republican paid Election Judges & trained Observers & extremely significant continued Court Litigation.”
Spindell emphasized why discouraging voting in places like Milwaukee was a sound strategy: “In a Democrat City or Democrat County where up to 80% of the people are voting for the Democrats - that’s a good thing and helped insure that Sen. Johnson got over the goal line."
Writes Wigderson: “It's as if the cruelty is the point. If Spindell had been in charge of elections during Jim Crow, he would've bragged about literacy tests and poll taxes suppressing the Black vote.”
Despite writing an email celebrating the suppression of black votes, Spindell is now denying that he wanted to suppress black votes, telling the AP, "I will not stand for that… The last thing I want to do is suppress votes."
Despite suppressing black votes, of course, and then bragging about it in print.
Wigderson reminds us that Spindell’s comments are hardly a one-off:
It's worth remembering, too, that Spindell's fellow Republicans tried in 2020 to throw out thousands of votes in Dane and Milwaukee Counties. Now Spindell is boasting about efforts that accomplished in 2022 what Republicans could not accomplish in the courts in 2020, effectively disenfranchising Democratic voters.
But here is the real kicker: Robert Spindell is a member of the Wisconsin Election Commission, the state body that is supposed to oversee election integrity in the state. The commission consists of three Republicans and three Democrats.
“Ironically,” writes Wigderson, “Republicans like to pretend they're for election integrity, but Spindell's mere presence on the Election Commission isn't just hypocrisy, it's a statement by the GOP that our election laws don't matter.”
Yes. But, it’s also a statement about the degree of election fakery and outright racism that the state’s GOP is willing to countenance.
The locally based Black Leaders Organizing for Communities called for the State Senate’s GOP leader to rescind Spindell’s appointment to the Election Commission.
"It is incredibly racist to brag about lowering Black and Brown turnout, it is also unacceptable to have these comments and views held by an election official," the group said in a statement. "His comments show blatant bias. Bob Spindell and his allies are the only ones who are intentionally undermining our democratic process."
Ann Jacobs, a Democratic member of the Commission, also called for Spindell’s resignation.