Swing-state Republicans were stepping up their aggressive efforts on Thursday to strip powers from incoming Democrats, amid popular protest over the undermining of democracy and voter rights – and threats of court action.
Michigan is expected to pass a bill on Thursday that would remove the newly elected Democratic secretary of state’s power to oversee campaign finance.
The measure is among several that opponents say ignore voters who spoke loudly at the ballot box during the midterm elections last month, sweeping Democrats into the roles of governor, attorney general and secretary of state offices in Michigan.
Republicans in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Ohio are also under fire for taking action in the lame-duck period between the election and early 2019, when the incoming Democrats will take office, to undermine the powers of the new officeholders, especially in the areas of voting rights and gerrymandering.
The move in Michigan, if successful, would create a bipartisan commission to regulate campaign finance, instead of that role being the purview of the Democratic secretary of state-elect, Jocelyn Benson.
Other measures advancing would strengthen legislative power and block future efforts to force non-profits to disclose their donors. The outgoing Republican governor, Rick Snyder, is not commenting on whether he will sign the bills if they reach his desk.
Republicans will retain power in the Michigan state legislature next year. But have sought to strengthen their hand over statewide offices freshly won by Democrats – including the incoming governor, Gretchen Whitmer, attorney general, Dana Nessel, and Benson. Democrats have not held all three posts since 1990.
On Thursday morning, Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Republicans in Michigan and Wisconsin lost elections on Nov. 6. Rather than respect the will of voters, they’re using their last few weeks in office to pass laws limiting the power of new governors and put roadblocks on voting. It’s not just anti-Democratic. It’s anti-democratic.”
In neighboring Wisconsin , the GOP-led legislature has passed legislation to restrict the incoming Democratic administration’s powers, especially the offices of governor and attorney general. Protesters, incensed at what they saw as an anti-democratic power grab in the dying days of GOP control of the governor’s office, crowded the state capitol in Madison. The outgoing Republican governor, Scott Walker, was heckled at the Christmas tree lighting in the rotunda.
Tony Evers, the Democratic governor-elect of Wisconsin, said on Thursday he will make a personal appeal to Walker to veto lame-duck GOP legislation that would strip the governor of powers.
If that doesn’t work, Evers said he might sue.
“The will of the people has officially been ignored by the legislature,” Evers said. “Wisconsin should be embarrassed by this.”
Evers said he would speak to Walker, whom he defeated in November’s election, as soon as the bills reach his desk. If he won’t veto them, Evers said he will consider a lawsuit “to make sure that this legislation does not get into practice”.
Meanwhile, among protesters at the Michigan capitol in Lansing earlier this week, as the hobbling of the incoming secretary of state was discussed, one wore a large, cartoon-like duck head, emphasizing the GOP tactics of using the lame-duck session to undermine their opponents.
And in Ohio, Republican legislators are introducing a law on an accelerated schedule in an attempt to roll back an earlier, voter-approved constitutional change that would make gerrymandering more difficult for lawmakers.
In North Carolina, allegations of election fraud by Republican operatives have thrown a North Carolina congressional race into limbo, sparking investigations and leaving control of the national seat undecided weeks after the midterm elections.