Newcomer Kelley Albrecht Challenges Robin Vos in Racine
Vos’ estranged wife cleared of voter fraud allegations
Vos—the co-chair of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee and the state chair of the national, ultraconservative, corporate-sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—led the push to pass a slew of conservatives’ favored bills in the last legislative session, such as concealed carry, voter ID, voucher school expansion and the destruction of collective bargaining for public employees. Vos also introduced a bill to cap attorney fees in consumer litigation, while failing to disclose that he was involved in a dispute over attorney fees regarding a rental property he owns in Whitewater. Critics decried Vos’ failure to be transparent when introducing a bill that could provide such clear personal benefits.
If he survives the Nov. 6 election and Republicans retain control of the state Assembly, Vos is likely to become Assembly speaker and have even more control over the state’s political agenda.
But newcomer Kelley Albrecht doesn’t seem fazed by Vos’ power.
The Democrat decided to challenge Vos because he refused to listen to her concerns about his misplaced priorities.
“It looked like our legislators sold out and our government was not representing the people’s interests anymore,” Albrecht said.
It also had appeared that Vos’ estranged wife was in violation of one of Vos’ most-hyped bills: Wisconsin’s restrictive voter ID bill.
The Case of Vos’ Estranged Wife
Albrecht said she was disappointed that the Racine County district
attorney and sheriff cleared Vos’ estranged wife, Samantha, of voter fraud
In court documents filed May 4 requesting a legal separation from the Burlington legislator, Samantha Vos declared that she had been a resident of Idaho for at least six weeks. She had moved to Idaho in July 2011 to be with her family while her marriage was on the rocks.
Although Samantha Vos had declared she was an Idaho resident, she voted in person in Wisconsin’s April 3 spring election and Aug. 14 primary and cast an absentee ballot in the June recall.
That would seem to violate the state’s new residency rules, passed by Republicans last year, requiring voters to live in the state for at least 28 days before an election. Vos was one of the champions of the voter ID law—which has since been declared unconstitutional by two judges—and he’d alleged that voter fraud contributed to state Sen. John Lehman’s victory in June over Van Wanggaard of Racine.
But last week the Racine County District Attorney’s Office announced that the voter fraud allegations against Rep. Vos’ estranged wife were unfounded, since she had intended to return to Wisconsin and attend UW-Milwaukee.
Albrecht criticized the district attorney’s findings, saying Samantha Vos “can’t have it both ways” by being a resident of Wisconsin and Idaho when it’s convenient for her and Robin Vos.
“It’s hypocritical,” Albrecht said.
Vos did not respond to the Shepherd’s request to comment for this article.
The political differences between Albrecht and Vos got personal when
Albrecht attempted to discuss with Vos the BadgerCare Protection Act, a measure
authored by Democrats that sought to close corporate tax loopholes to pay for
the state’s health care plan for low-income Wisconsinites. Albrecht’s husband
is self-employed and the family, which includes an autistic son, cannot afford
quality health care coverage.
Albrecht showed up in Vos’ office after he ignored her requests to meet. She said Vos refused to take her seriously.
“This is not how a representative is supposed to be,” Albrecht said. “I don’t expect people to always agree with me, especially if they have a different political affiliation. But they need to listen and be open-minded.”
She said Vos’ lack of interest in his constituent spurred her to run against him.
“When I decided to run, it was not only to hold him accountable, but to be a true representative,” Albrecht said. “We need to get back to that in our state. We can solve our problems if we allow everyone to have a seat at the table and be heard.”
In addition to protecting BadgerCare, Albrecht would like to provide more support for public education, since that would make the state more attractive to new businesses and bolster the state’s economy and middle class.
Albrecht and Vos are scheduled to debate on Oct. 22 at Case High School in Racine.