Gov. Tony Evers seeks $250,000 from Trump and GOP official to pay for legal fees in 'frivolous' election lawsuits

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MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers is asking two federal courts to make former President Donald Trump and a Republican Party official pay more than $250,000 in legal fees to shield taxpayers from costs in a pair of election lawsuits.

© Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Kenosha on Monday.

Trump and his allies brought a string of lawsuits after he narrowly lost Wisconsin, but court after court threw them out. 

The Democratic governor filed motions late Wednesday in two of those cases seeking to have those who brought the cases pay for legal fees. 

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If Evers is successful, in one case Trump would have to pay more than $145,000. In the other case, William Feehan, the chairman of the Republican Party of La Crosse County, would have to pay about $107,000. 

In addition, Evers asked the courts to order Trump and his supporters to pay more to deter  them from bringing future lawsuits that are without merit. 

Trump had sought to have the Republican-controlled Legislature decide how to award the state’s 10 electoral votes instead of voters, arguing that long-standing voting practices in Wisconsin were improper. He argued voters should have had to fill out more paperwork to vote early and local governments should not have been allowed to use drop boxes for absentee ballots. 

© submitted photo U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig

U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig said letting state lawmakers decide the outcome of the election would have resulted in “probably the most remarkable ruling in the history of this court or the federal judiciary.” Ludwig, who was put on the bench by Trump, ruled against him in December, finding the election had been conducted properly. 

Around the same time, Feehan brought his lawsuit, which alleged elaborate conspiracies that have been widely mocked. The suit claimed deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Iran and China likely hacked voting machines used in Wisconsin and elsewhere. His suit didn’t name the sources of these claims, other than to say one of them was code-named Spider. 

© Journal Sentinel files U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper

U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper threw out the case in December, noting “federal judges do not appoint the president in this country.”

“One wonders why the plaintiffs came to federal court and asked a federal judge to do so. After a week of sometimes odd and often harried litigation, the court is no closer to answering the ‘why,’ ” wrote Pepper, who was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama.

Feehan is represented by Sidney Powell, who is now the target of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems, the maker of the voting machines in question. Powell has defended herself against the defamation claim by telling a judge that reasonable people would not have believed her claims about Dominion.

Evers’ attorney, Jeffrey Mandell, told Pepper that Wisconsinites should not be on the hook for the cost of defending against a lawsuit that was “frivolous, dilatory and without any merit.”

“There is no reason for Wisconsin taxpayers to bear the expense of this attempt to hijack the democratic process,” Mandell wrote.

He took a similar stance in the case brought by Trump, writing, “The Court should make Wisconsin’s taxpayers whole.”

Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gov. Tony Evers seeks $250,000 from Trump and GOP official to pay for legal fees in ‘frivolous’ election lawsuits

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