Wisconsin ethics panel calls for felony charges against Trump fundraising group

<span>The Wisconsin assembly speaker, Robin Vos, became a target of Donald Trump after he refused to decertify the 2020 Wisconsin election results.</span><span>Photograph: Morry Gash/AP</span>
The Wisconsin assembly speaker, Robin Vos, became a target of Donald Trump after he refused to decertify the 2020 Wisconsin election results.Photograph: Morry Gash/AP

Donald Trump’s legal woes continue in Wisconsin, where the state’s ethics commission has recommended felony charges against Trump’s Save America Joint Fundraising Committee for its alleged role in a plot to bypass campaign finance limits.

Related: Wisconsin: far-right group bids to recall speaker for resisting Trump’s big lie

Trump is already facing 91 felony charges in criminal cases across multiple states related to his political and business dealings. The newest allegations in Wisconsin were first reported on Friday by the news site WisPolitics.

The bipartisan ethics commission, which oversees the enforcement of campaign finance and lobbying laws in the state, recommended the charges in connection with a fundraising effort to target the Republican state assembly speaker, Robin Vos, during a 2022 primary challenge.

Vos, who is the longest-serving assembly speaker in the state’s history, has been a consistent target of Trump and his allies since refusing to aid Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Wisconsin. Trump personally urged Vos to decertify the Wisconsin election results and, when the speaker said he could not do it under the state’s constitution, released a statement accusing Vos of “working hard to cover up election corruption”.

The commission alleges Adam Steen, Vos’s primary challenger, coordinated with state Republican party chapters to evade Wisconsin’s $1,000 limit on individual campaign donations by having individuals funnel earmarked donations through the county parties, which face no limits on campaign spending. The commission found the effort generated more than $40,000 to benefit Vos’s primary opponent.

The state representative Janel Brandtjen, a vocal proponent of Trump’s election lies in the Wisconsin legislature, was also implicated in the alleged scheme. Brandtjen allegedly helped coordinate donations earmarked for Steen’s campaign from the Save America committee into multiple Republican party county chapters.

Vos survived the primary attempt, but barely. Steen, who earned Trump’s endorsement, lost by a mere 260 votes.

Election-denying activists have most recently backed a campaign to recall Vos, which is still gathering petition signatures and has drawn the attention of national figures in the Maga movement, including the conspiracy theorist and MyPillow CEO, Mike Lindell. Lindell headlined an event and has promoted the effort on social media, writing that Vos had “blocked our efforts to secure our elections” in a post on the social media site X (formerly Twitter).

The ethics commission also investigated a $4,000 donation by Lindell to a county party, but did not charge him, citing insufficient evidence the funds were directed to Vos’s primary challenger.