, , ,

Republican-led panel recommends firing two Regents who voted against DEI deal

A Senate committee recommended against confirming John Miller and Dana Wachs after they voted against a deal that ended some diversity-related positions

UW System logo
Phil Roeder (CC-BY)

Republicans on a state senate panel have recommended against confirming two members of the Universities of Wisconsin Board of Regents who voted against a diversity-related funding deal last year.

The Senate Committee on Universities and Revenue voted 5-3 along party lines Thursday to reject Regents John Miller and Dana Wachs.

The state Senate, where Republicans currently hold a 22-10 majority, is due to meet next week but their agenda has not yet been announced. If the full Senate votes against confirming Miller and Wachs, the two would effectively be fired.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Wachs and Miller were both appointed by Gov. Tony Evers, Wachs in 2022 and Miller in 2021.

They each voted against a deal, brokered by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, to end funding for positions throughout the university system devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI. In exchange, Vos agreed to pay raises for university staff and funding for UW building projects.

A majority of regents voted against a first iteration of that deal in December, and Wachs and Miller both voted against it a second time. The final agreement passed, 9-8, after three early no votes flipped.

Senate President Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, hinted on social media at the time that their votes could cost them their positions on the board.

“They’d rather double down on an ineffective, divisive, and bigoted DEI ideology that promotes racism instead of equal access to affordable, quality education for Wisconsin residents,” he wrote.

Wachs, a former Democratic state lawmaker from Eau Claire who ran for governor in 2018, told the Associated Press that if he’s not confirmed, he may run for the Legislature again.

The last time the Senate fired a Regent was in 1991. Terry Kohler, a scion of the Sheboygan industrialist family and one-time gubernatorial candidate, was not confirmed following comments he’d made about Black South Africans and LGBTQ people.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, more than a dozen of Evers’ appointees have been rejected since he took office in 2019. Prior to that, only four gubernatorial appointees had been rejected since the early 1980s.