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Federal insurrection lawsuit targets Wisconsin GOP lawmakers Ron Johnson, Fitzgerald and Tiffany

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Reps. Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany

An unusual federal lawsuit has been filed against Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Reps. Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany, charging the three Republicans are no longer qualified to seek reelection.

The case, in Milwaukee, alleges the men are insurrectionists for actions and words supporting outgoing Republican President Donald Trump ahead of the U.S. Capitol riot of January 6 of last year, and for trying to undermine the election of Democrat Joe Biden.

Documents filed Thursday charge a violation of the Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The clause was enacted after the Civil War to prevent congressmen who fought for the Confederacy from returning to their positions on Capitol Hill.

Milwaukee-area lawsuit plaintiff Cheryl Maranto listens during Thursday's news conference.
screen grab from Zoom
Milwaukee-area lawsuit plaintiff Cheryl Maranto listens during Thursday's news conference.

The lawsuit was filed by 10 Wisconsin citizens and funded by the liberal Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC. Milwaukee-area resident Cheryl Maranto is one of the plaintiffs. She said she's doing so for her kids and her community.

"It's the duty of every American to accept the results of our elections. The three politicians named in our complaint violated that duty. And in so doing put our entire country at risk. None of us can afford to stand idly by and watch this happen," Maranto said at a virtual news conference.

Reps. Tiffany and Fitzgerald voted against accepting Biden's presidential electors from two states. Johnson initially objected to counting one state's electors, but changed his mind after the U.S. Capitol riot. All three lawmakers have defended their actions.

The lawsuit accuses the three Republicans of being part of a conspiracy theory and “spreading their malicious falsehoods about a ‘rigged election’ through regular and social media and at public appearances.” It also notes Fitzgerald’s role in reserving a room at the Wisconsin state Capitol for fake Republican electors to meet on Dec. 14, 2020, and cast their ballots for Trump, even though Biden had won the state and his electors were meeting that same day elsewhere in the building.

Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday night that the lawsuit is "nonsense."

The lawsuit is similar to one rejected by a federal judge last week seeking to keep U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, of North Carolina from seeking reelection this fall.

The case against Cawthorn alleged he wasn't eligible for the ballot because of his involvement in the rally that preceded the riot on the Capitol. A federal judge in Washington ruled on March 4 that North Carolina's candidate challenge process didn’t apply to the 14th Amendment's “Disqualification Clause.”

Cawthorn, a fervent backer of Trump who voted against certifying Biden’s presidential victory, says he’s never participated in an insurrection against the U.S., and the amendment didn’t apply to him.

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