Janet Angus stood up for election integrity and the city of Green Bay came down on her hard.
The heavy-handed tactics from a leftist-led “Zuckbucks” city found to have spied on its own citizens came as little surprise to anyone paying attention to Green Bay politics over the past five years. The fact that city leaders got called out in court is a new wrinkle, however, in the saga of local government corruption.
On Friday, Brown County Circuit Court Judge Tammy Jo Hock tossed out a municipal conviction of disorderly conduct against Angus, an amiable Green Bay businesswoman, attorney, and long-time election integrity activist. After hearing from the city’s witnesses, the judge mid-hearing ruled that the city “has not met its burden” of proof to convict Angus of being disorderly while she raised an objection to a clear violation of election law.
More so, Hock said city officials appear to have retaliated against Angus after the Green Bay City Clerk’s Office was hit with a state elections complaint.
“I don’t have to address the other concerns and arguments that are made about election integrity because I don’t find that Miss Angus’ behavior was disorderly, but I will observe that it does appear the municipal citation was retaliatory due to the Wisconsin Elections [Commission] complaint that was filed,” Hock said, according to court transcripts obtained by The Federalist.
The judge’s finding is a damning statement on how the city of Green Bay, with far-left Mayor Eric Genrich at the helm, conducts business, particularly against political enemies. And it’s a reminder that, contrary to the left’s breathless cries about elections officials and poll workers being under assault, actual government-led attempts to silence conservative election observers are happening in cities like Green Bay.
The Keys to Green Bay’s Elections
On April 5, 2022, Angus was sitting — and watching — outside City Clerk Celestine Jeffreys’ office. Angus had been a thorn in Jeffreys’ side since at least the 2020 presidential election cycle, when Jeffreys was serving as Genrich’s controversial chief of staff. The election observer has called out a number of suspect or irregular incidents in Green Bay’s elections, particularly amid the shenanigans leading up to Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
Green Bay was one of Wisconsin’s five largest and Democrat-heavy cities to have received the lion’s share (about $8.8 million) of the $10.3 million in “Zuckbucks” grants handed out to election offices by the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) statewide. The Chicago-based nonprofit, led by liberal voting rights activists and former Democratic Party operatives, received some $350 million from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. The money was ostensibly to be used for Covid mitigation initiatives at the polls, but the brunt of the funds covered mail-in vote campaigns and get-out-the-vote efforts targeting traditional Democrat voters.
More so, CTCL’s network of liberal activists worked alongside local elections officials in critical battleground states such as Wisconsin. The suspect relationships were no more cozy than in what became known as the “Wisconsin Five” cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Racine.
As The Federalist reported in 2021, a Democrat Party operative employed with the National Vote at Home Institute worked closely with local elections officials in Green Bay. Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, emails show, told Green Bay election officials he could help with “curing” absentee ballots. Records also show that Spitzer-Rubenstein was given keys to the room where Green Bay’s absentee ballots were stored.
Jeffreys took over elections duties shortly after Green Bay’s former clerk resigned in frustration in the days before the 2020 presidential election.
‘Words Are Not Supposed to Hurt’
Jeffreys has had a tense relationship with election observers over her tenure. Last year, a Brown County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the Republican National Committee and four election observers. The lawsuit claimed Jeffreys refused to provide election observers adequate access to the voting process as required under state law.
On the morning of April 5, 2022, spring Election Day, voter Molly Senechal showed up to Jeffreys’ office with two ballots in her hands. According to court records, Senechal wanted to drop off her completed ballot and another one belonging to her husband. She said her husband could not appear in person — as the law requires — because he was “sick.” Jeffreys told Seneschal that was just fine.
Angus, well-versed in Wisconsin election law, approached Jeffreys. She told the clerk that Wisconsin statute requires voters must return their own ballots unless they have a disability that prevents them from doing so. Jeffreys disagreed. She testified that Angus raised her voice and “mocked her.” The whole episode, according to court documents, made Senechal “anxious.”
“One of my — the greatest source of pain and discomfort for me in my life is when I can’t understand someone else or when they cannot understand me and we can’t get our points across to each other,” Senechal testified in court last week.
It was all so upsetting, Jeffreys testified.
“She was getting visibly upset and crying,” the clerk said on the stand, referring to Senechal. “So, you know, words are not supposed to hurt, and so, obviously, I was very concerned.”
What the elections clerk should have been very concerned about was violating election law.
A complaint filed 15 days later with the Wisconsin Elections Commission accused Jeffreys of failing to follow the law when she gave Senechal a pass in returning her husband’s ballot. According to testimony, there were other incidents during the spring election when voters carried in multiple ballots, raising serious concerns about ballot harvesting.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission ultimately found that Jeffreys abused her discretion in allowing “ballot return assistance if a voter is merely reported to be ‘sick.’”
“Sickness alone may or may not constitute a disability, and thus it cannot be a qualification to receive ballot return assistance,” the commission stated in a decision reviewed by The Federalist. Jeffreys was ordered to change her policy.
Shopping a Conviction
The city didn’t seek a disorderly conduct investigation into Angus until the complaint was filed with the state Elections Commission. Brad Biller, a Green Bay Police Department detective at the time, was informed by his lieutenant that “City Hall wanted it [an investigation],” according to court records. They originally wanted a criminal charge.
The local district attorney said he wouldn’t take the criminal disorderly conduct case because there was no way he could meet the burden of proof, Biller testified. But Assistant City Attorney Rachel Maes — a man who identifies as a transgender woman — was more than happy to help.
“Detective Biller, I do believe that [we] can meet our burden of proof that this situation resulted in disorderly conduct. Attorney Angus incorrectly accused [a] resident of breaking the law, and her boisterous, accusational behavior resulted in the resident being visibly distraught as evidenced by her crying,” Maes wrote in an email read during last week’s court case. The attorney’s breathless description does not match Angus’ actions, according to testimony.
The city got its conviction on the basic disorderly conduct charge in municipal court. Angus was fined $396. With the help of the Wisconsin Voter Alliance (WVA), she appealed the case to the Brown County Circuit Court, which tossed the conviction and nixed the fine. The fine was nothing, Angus said, to the reputational damage she faced as a local businesswoman and attorney.
“When they try to take your reputation from you, what are you really left with?” she told The Federalist in an interview. “I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s been difficult.”
Critics of the city say Genrich, Jeffreys, and their band of city leftists have tried to make life hell for Angus and election integrity activists like her. Last year, the city — without notifying the public — installed surveillance cameras with audio recording devices at City Hall. Genrich and other city officials did so without the consent of the Green Bay Common Council, according to a lawsuit. City officials claimed the surveillance devices were all about ensuring public safety. Others, including the Republican-led Wisconsin State Senate, assert Green Bay government officials planted the bugs to spy on the public, including potential political enemies.
“Nationwide, the progressives are using prosecution and litigation for political objectives, to cancel election integrity, and to shut up political opponents. They call it ‘lawfare.’ But, it is Tyranny, really,” the Wisconsin Voter Alliance said in a statement. “In response to Green Bay’s tyranny, Ms. Angus, WVA and others had the courage to fight back. And we won! Nationwide, we must combat this tyranny in the same, good way, as we did in Green Bay.” Attorneys for the Wisconsin Voter Alliance told The Federalist they are considering a counter suit against the city.