Wisconsin man fined $2,400 by state election commission over frivolous allegations of voter fraud | local government
A New London man who was previously convicted of making fraudulent statements to investors has now been fined more than $2,400 by the Wisconsin Elections Commission for filing frivolous complaints of alleged voter fraud .
Peter Bernegger, who was convicted in Mississippi federal court in 2009 of making fraudulent statements to investors in his company, filed several complaints of voter fraud with the bipartisan Elections Commission earlier this year. He also presented his demands to the Assembly’s Elections Committee in February, just four days after he filed his fourth and final complaint.
The commission ultimately voted in a closed session in late February that Bernegger’s claims were frivolous. A majority of commissioners ordered him to pay $2,403 in fines, $1 for each claim deemed baseless, according to public records first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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Bernegger helped Republicans in the GOP-ordered review of the 2020 election led by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who also reported widespread fraud in the election state president. Some details of Bernegger’s individual complaints were not made available, but documents show that a single complaint included 2,352 allegations. Ultimately, the majority of the commission determined that Bernegger’s complaints did not provide a reasonable suspicion of a violation of election laws.
The commission also dismissed two complaints filed by Bernegger against the agency’s administrator, Meagan Wolfe, noting that a decision on such a matter would reflect a conflict of interest.
Bernegger told the Journal Sentinel that he plans to appeal the commission’s dismissals of his complaints to the circuit court.
Bernegger was one of many people invited by the Assembly Elections Committee to testify in recent months. Others include Erick Kaardal, a Republican lawyer with the conservative Thomas More Society, who has challenged the use of private grants given to cities to help administer the 2020 election; Gableman, a Republican who was hired by the Legislature to lead the ongoing GOP-ordered review of the election; and Doug Frank, an Ohio scientist who made the baseless claim that Wisconsin’s election was likely “stolen.”
State election officials later debunked many of what they described as “fantastic unverified allegations” of widespread voter fraud, including several made by Bernegger.
Among Bernegger’s claims, more than 300 people registered to vote at an address that no longer exists, although the election commission‘s chief technology officer, Robert Kehoe, later determined that the address in question belonged. to a UW-Parkside apartment complex on a street that has since been renamed. In another instance, Bernegger cited hundreds of registered voters at 437 N. Frances St., one of Madison’s largest apartment complexes.
Kehoe described such claims that tens of thousands of fake voters were created to vote in the 2020 election as “shocking and chilling”.
Recounts and court rulings claimed President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin by nearly 21,000 votes.
Unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud persist now 17 months after the election, fueled in part by Trump’s claim that the election was “stolen” – allegations that have been repeated by Gableman, who was hired l summer to lead the GOP-ordered review of the election at a cost of $676,000 in public funds.
After extending Gableman’s contract through the end of April, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, later said he was considering rescinding the subpoenas issued by the former judge so that A Republican attorney general, if elected in November, could bring criminal charges against those subpoenaed, although he did not provide details of what charges might be brought.
The new contract maintains Gableman’s existing budget, but allows for the possibility of additional funds to cover the costs of legal battles related to the probe.
Meanwhile, Waukesha County Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez has scheduled a July 11 hearing in a case to decide whether Gableman has the authority to require the mayors of the state’s five largest cities and d other officials be imprisoned for not cooperating with his subpoenas. Several mayors, including Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, said they were open to meeting with Gableman, but not behind closed doors.
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