Green Bay Council discusses report alleging election mismanagement

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 11:37 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - City leaders discussed a recent report alleging misconduct over how the City of Green Bay handled the 2020 elections during a City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Mayor Eric Genrich and the City Attorney Vanessa Chavez spoke with council members, and the attorney maintained there was no wrong-doing on the part of the city over how the administration handled the presidential election.

She also clarified the roles of those involved in coordinating the election on November 3, and in the months leading up to the election.

“For me personally, I suppose I signed up to be a target for all kinds of grievances, but that’s not the case for our city employees and poll workers. Those who were involved in the November elections deserve nothing but our gratitude and appreciation,” said Mayor Genrich.

Genrich addressed the council Tuesday night after a report by a Wisconsin Spotlight, a website run by conservative organization Empower Wisconsin, alleged misconduct about how Green Bay handled the November election, spurring calls for his resignation from republican lawmakers.

RELATED: Wisconsin senators call for Genrich’s resignation, investigation of how November election was handled

The report took issues with the role of Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, who helped the city through the election as part of a $1.6 million grant from the Center of Tech and Civic Life.

Chavez clarified Spitzer-Rubenstein’s role on Election Day during Tuesday night’s meeting.

“He was providing assistance to the city in the nature of logistical steps, he was helping coordinate, he was running his own data as far as the numbers of the ballots, literally just determining how far behind we were going to be, " said Chavez.

RELATED: Green Bay releases thousands of election documents as calls continue for mayor’s resignation

The report alleges Rubenstein had access to ballots and keys to the KI Convention Center, where the city held its central count.

Chavez says those statements are false.

“No keys were ever in Mr. Rubenstein’s hands, they stayed until Celestine Jeffreys picked them up, gave them to Director Ellenbecker. Director Ellenbecker maintained those in her control for the remainder that we had access to the KI,” said Chavez.

RELATED: Former Brown County Clerk testifies at hearing over Green Bay elections report

Attorney Chavez also says although Rubenstein offered to cure ballots for the election, the City declined that offer.

Chavez is also in the process of compiling a report for the Council which will also be public record.

“My findings of things are indicating there is no liability on the part of the city because we didn’t do anything wrong,” said Chavez.

Council members also took up a resolution supporting the city’s administration of the election. After another hour of debate, the council decided to hold off on a vote until the City Attorney completes her report of how the election was handled.

The resolution was brought forward by Alders Dorff, Gerlach, and Lefebvre.

Action 2 News spoke with Council President Jesse Brunette and Alder Barb Dorff Monday ahead of the resolution vote. In that report, Brunette said it was “extremely premature and inappropriate for that to be on the agenda at this point.” Meanwhile, Dorff said she had “no doubt in my mind that we did this in a safe, secure, effective manner, and I stand behind our election and our mayor and our city.”

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