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Senate President Mike Ellis Won't Seek Re-Election in Wake of Secret Video


Republican state Sen. Mike Ellis of Neenah is dropping out of the race for the seat he's held for decades.

The announcement follows the release of a secretly recorded video in which he discusses an illegal campaign finance scheme.

A spokesman confirmed Friday that Ellis would retire from the Senate, marking the end of a 44-year legislative career.

The announcement comes just two days after the release of a secret recording by Project Veritas, a national organization led by James O'Keefe.

In the video, recorded in March, Ellis talks about creating a Super PAC to spend money on attacking his Democratic opponent, state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber. 

Ellis said he did not pursue the idea after realizing it was against the law.

Earlier this week, Ellis said he had done nothing illegal and the video taken without his knowledge is misleading.

As for the potential impact of the video, UW-La Crosse Political Science Professor Joe Heim says it underscores the fact that politicians cannot do or say anything, without realizing someone could be recording them.

Heim says, while Ellis on the video sounds as if he plans to act illegally, saying and doing things can be two different realities.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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