Politics

Liberal group seeks resignation of Trump lawyer from Wisconsin judicial ethics panel

The liberal advocacy group A Better Wisconsin Together says Jim Troupis is unsuitable for the state's Judicial Conduct Advisory Committee due to his role advising Republican fake electors who took part in an effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Associated Press

December 15, 2023

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Jim Troupis sits and speaks into a microphone.

Jim Troupis speaks during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to discuss election security and the 2020 election process, Dec. 16, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The liberal advocacy group A Better Wisconsin Together is calling for former President Donald Trump's Wisconsin lawyer Troupis to step down from a state judicial ethics panel, saying he's unsuitable due to his role advising the fake Republican electors who admitted to contributing to an effort to overturn the 2020 election. (Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo / Pool via AP, File)


AP News

By Scott Bauer, AP

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Liberals are calling for former President Donald Trump’s Wisconsin lawyer to step down from a state judicial ethics panel, saying he is unsuitable due to his role advising the fake Republican electors who admitted to taking part in an effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Jim Troupis, a former judge, was deeply involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn Wisconsin’s 2020 election results. He remains a defendant in a lawsuit filed against him, Trump’s attorney Ken Chesebro and the 10 fake Republican electors.

The electors agreed to a settlement in the lawsuit, but Troupis and Chesebro remain defendants.

Troupis has been a member of the Judicial Conduct Advisory Committee since 2020. The committee is charged with giving formal opinions and informal advice to judges and judicial officers related to the code of judicial conduct. The advice involves whether possible actions would be in compliance with the state’s judicial code of conduct.

The committee rarely issues formal written opinions and has not issued one since 2019, according to its website. Informal opinions are offered several times a year, said the committee’s chair Winnebago County Circuit Judge Bryan Keberlein.

A common question is whether a judge can use their official title when writing a book or blog post, Keberlein said. The purpose of the committee is to give advice prospectively so that judges don’t do something unethical, he said.

Keberlein declined to discuss the calls for Troupis to no longer serve on the panel.

Troupis’s place on the panel advising judges about possible ethical violations is improper given his involvement with the fake elector scheme, said Mike Browne, deputy director of the liberal advocacy group A Better Wisconsin Together.

“He never should have been reappointed after his role in the MAGA conspiracy to undermine our freedom was public,” Browne said in a statement, referring to the Trump campaign slogan, “Make America great again.”

“And he certainly shouldn’t continue to serve in any position of public trust now. If he doesn’t have the decency to step down on his own, the right-wing justices who wrongly supported his re-appointment should step in and remove him,” Browne said.

Calls for Troupis to be replaced on the judicial commission echo those from Democrats who want one of the fake electors, Bob Spindell, to be removed from the bipartisan state elections commission. But the Republican Senate majority leader who appointed Spindell has refused to rescind the appointment.

Troupis was reappointed to serve on the judicial ethics panel in March by four conservative members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, including three who remain on the court.

Neither Troupis nor the justices who appointed him — Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and justices Rebecca Bradley and Brian Hagedorn — replied to messages seeking comment.

President Joe Biden won Wisconsin in 2020. Trump’s campaign tried to overturn the results by arguing, in lawsuits filed by Troupis, that tens of thousands of absentee ballots legally cast should not have counted. The Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected the Trump lawsuit on a 4-3 ruling, upholding Biden’s win.

In addition to the lawsuits, Troupis also was involved with the fake elector scheme in Wisconsin.

Fake electors in Wisconsin and six other battleground states sent certificates to Congress falsely declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election, despite confirmed results showing he had lost.

The scheme began in Wisconsin, according to prosecutors who brought a four-count indictment released against Trump in August.

Chesebro wrote in a Dec. 13, 2020, email that the strategy “was not to use the fraudulent electors only in the circumstance that the Defendant’s litigation was successful in one of the targeted states.” Instead, he wrote, “the plan was to falsely present the fraudulent slates as an alternative to the legitimate slates at Congress’s certification proceeding.”

Prosecutors alleged that an email Chesebro wrote on Dec. 13, 2020, showed that the strategy “was not to use the fraudulent electors only in the circumstance that the Defendant’s litigation was successful in one of the targeted states.” Instead, prosecutors allege, “the plan was to falsely present the fraudulent slates as an alternative to the legitimate slates at Congress’s certification proceeding.”

The Georgia indictment of Trump refers to Chesebro’s memo to Troupis as an “overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

After Wisconsin’s fake electors met on Dec. 14, 2020, Troupis contacted U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s staff and asked that Johnson deliver the documents from the fake electors in Wisconsin and Michigan to Vice President Mike Pence. A Pence staff member refused to accept them.

On Dec. 6, Nevada became the third state to charge electors, following Michigan and Georgia. Wisconsin Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has repeatedly refused to say whether there is an ongoing criminal investigation related to the state’s fake electors, Troupis and Chesebro.

In the legal settlement released Dec. 6, the 10 fake electors admitted Biden had won the election and their efforts were part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 results. Under the deal, the fake electors didn’t pay any damages or attorneys fees, or admit wrongdoing or liability.

Editor’s note: This article is corrected to indicate that a quote that begins “was not to use…” and that allegedly characterizes an email Chesebro wrote was taken from a prosecution court filing and was not directly quoting a Chesebro email.

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