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Liberal super PAC files challenge to Donald Trump’s ballot access in Wisconsin

Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC leader says he expects complaint to make its way to state Supreme Court

A line of U.S. flags can be seen behind Pres. Donald Trump as he speaks at a podium
President Donald Trump speaks Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, at a rally in Mosinee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

A liberal political action committee associated with a Northwoods brewery wants courts to bar former President Donald Trump from Wisconsin ballots.

At a press conference Thursday, Kirk Bangstad of the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC said he filed a complaint against Trump with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. In a statement, the Commission said the complaint was “disposed of without consideration.” Bangstad said that rejection from the commission, which comprises three Republican and three Democratic members, will allow him to file a complaint in circuit court, with the expectation that the case will end up before the state Supreme Court.

The ballot challenge follows similar efforts in Colorado and Michigan, and ongoing efforts in other states. In Colorado, judges last week barred Trump from the state’s ballot after finding he had engaged in “insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021 and was constitutionally barred from holding federal office. Trump has said he will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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In Michigan, the state Supreme Court on Wednesday reached the opposite conclusion, finding Trump would remain on that state’s presidential primary ballot.

“I’ll be damned if we don’t at least try in Wisconsin to do what Colorado was able to do,” Bangstad said at the press conference.

The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC is associated with the brewery, which funds it with proceeds on sales of beer and merchandise themed around Democratic politicians.

In October, a jury in Oneida County found Bangstad had defamed the publisher of a Minocqua newspaper when he falsely implied in social media posts that the publisher stood by and let his younger brother die in a hunting accident, along with other false allegations. The court fined Bangstad $750,000 in the case, which he has said he will appeal.

Also in October, Bangstad’s super PAC filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Wisconsin’s private school voucher program. This month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to take up the lawsuit. Bangstad has said he will pursue the same challenge at the circuit court level.

In October 2021, the super PAC filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force school districts to require masking to protect children against COVID-19. That lawsuit was dismissed in March 2022.