Bipartisan call for Evers to fire whoever recorded meeting

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks with the media at an event Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Madison, Wis.  (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks with the media at an event Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)(NBC15)
Published: Jun. 11, 2020 at 12:44 PM CDT
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Governor Tony Evers is under fire as he responds to allegations about his role in a secret recording of a meeting he had with state GOP leaders.

The hour long conversation came on May 14.

This was just after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the extension to the state's safer at home order.

The meeting, which was intended to be private, was between the Governor and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

In a portion of the audio, you could hear the Governor say, "In a perfect world, we would have opened up bars just like they did in every other state with some sort of parameter, instead of seeing pictures today of bars absolutely bursting at the seems knowing full well there's all sorts of viruses being transmitted."

That led Sen. Fitzgerald to respond, saying "Governor, when was the last time you were in Home Depot on a Saturday? When was the last time you were in Wal-Mart on a Saturday? Are you kidding me? You aren't being serious right now, are you? Those places are bursting at the seems every weekend."

The purpose of the call was to find a statewide approach to battling COVID-19.

The Governor says it was a staffer who recorded the meeting without his knowledge.

"A staffer wanted help in taking notes, and that's why that staffer did that, and I will not discuss personnel issues in public, but needless to say the practice has ended with this one time," Evers said.

Senator Fitzgerald has called the recording, "Nixonesque," and many fellow Republicans agree.

"We've been asking to have more regular meetings with the governor to discuss some of these bigger issues that are going on and then when we finally get that opportunity, to find out that he's secretly recording it, it's really kind of disastrous for the relationship between the legislature and the executive branch and really disappointing," said Rep. Jim Steineke, Assembly Majority Leader.

Along with many Republicans, Democratic Rep. Jonathan Brostoff also said the staffer who recorded the call should be fired.

“I don’t give a damn about what letter is next to someone’s name, this is unacceptable,” Brostoff tweeted.

He also called for Vos to resign because, during the meeting with Evers, Vos blamed an outbreak of the coronavirus in Racine County on immigrants. On the recording, Vos said the outbreak occurred among “a large immigrant population where it’s just a difference in culture where people are living much closer and working much closer.”

Across the country, states reporting racial data indicate higher rates of positive cases of the virus among the Latino population. In Wisconsin, about 33% of the cases and deaths from COVID-19 are among Hispanics and Latinos even though they make up just 7% of the state’s population.

Wisconsin law allows for telephone calls to be recorded as long as one party involved knows about it. The meeting between Evers and Republicans focused on the path forward after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state’s stay-at-home order.

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