Fond du Lac County Republican Party Chairman Rohn Bishop is seen in the workshop at his home in Waupun, Wis., surrounded by posters of fellow Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and former President George W. Bush. But he has parted with the current GOP president, Donald Trump. Bishop has been critical of Trump’s claims that mail-in voting is fraudulent. He says such misinformation is driving polarization. “It would be nice if we could at least agree on reality,” Bishop says. Credit: Lauren Justice for Wisconsin Watch
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Fraud denied; absentee ballot changes stalled; priest abuse victim takes own life; child abuse fears grow


Of note: This week we draw your attention to a story by Wisconsin Watch’s Howard Hardee featuring Rohn Bishop, chairman of the Fond du Lac County Republican Party. Bishop took the controversial step of breaking with fellow GOP members to criticize President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the result of Wisconsin’s election. Said Bishop: “I’m honestly trying to keep the Republican Party from doing something it’s going to seriously regret. By that I mean going into Milwaukee County and throwing out a bunch of African Americans’ votes. I don’t think that’s a particularly good look.” Bishop also criticized the embrace of misinformation by his fellow party members.

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Fond du Lac County Republican Party Chairman Rohn Bishop is seen in the workshop at his home in Waupun, Wis., surrounded by posters of fellow Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and former President George W. Bush. But he has parted with the current GOP president, Donald Trump. Bishop has been critical of Trump’s claims that mail-in voting is fraudulent. He says such misinformation is driving polarization. “It would be nice if we could at least agree on reality,” Bishop says. Credit: Lauren Justice for Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin GOP official bucks Trump and draws backlash: ‘There is no fraud in this election’ 

Wisconsin Watch — November 30, 2020

Knowing he would probably face fierce criticism, Rohn Bishop raised a dissenting voice while some of his fellow conservatives argued in favor of invalidating votes in Wisconsin. In a Nov. 21 post on Twitter, he said he’d spent the past decade refuting claims that state Republicans were “trying to disenfranchise people” with voter ID and signature laws. But the campaign of President Donald Trump had gone too far, he said, in legal challenges aimed at tossing out votes based on a “technicality” during the recounts in mostly liberal Dane and Milwaukee counties. The counting was completed Sunday, adding 87 votes to Joe Biden’s winning total. “Now here we are, trying to disenfranchise people,” he said on Twitter. “These voters did nothing wrong. There’s no fraud.”  Bishop is not the only Republican speaking out. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a GOP candidate says he was listed without permission as a plaintiff in one of Trump’s lawsuits seeking to overturn the election.

Election workers count ballots at the Milwaukee Central Count location after the polls had closed for the evening on Nov. 3, 2020. Bipartisan proposals in the state Legislature would have allowed clerks to process absentee ballots before Election Day, allowing for quicker final tallies. But those measures so far have failed to gain traction. Credit: Eric Kleppe-Montenegro for Wisconsin Watch

Despite a surge in absentee voting, changes to ballot processing languish in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Watch — December 3, 2020

As Claire Woodall-Vogg stood in the middle of an empty Central Count facility days before the Nov. 3 election, it wasn’t just the national spotlight on the city of Milwaukee or the swirling claims of voter fraud that weighed heavily on her mind. It was the frustration that she, and hundreds of other Milwaukee election workers, were facing an unprecedented pile of absentee ballots — and no permission to process them.  For years, Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, and other election officials have pushed for absentee vote processing to start before Election Day. While momentum on this front has built since 2008, with two pieces of legislation proposed in the last legislative session alone, Wisconsin still bars workers from opening absentee ballots before an election.  

First came sex abuse allegations at the abbey. Then secret payments. Then a suicide.

Green Bay Press Gazette –– December 3, 2020

The cards arrived every month.They often had a tranquil photo on the front, a snow-covered scene or a depiction of Jesus in a stained-glass window. The letter’s author wrote in messy cursive as he discussed the Green Bay Packers, family events or his “frozen” Toyota Camry that required a new battery. The writer, a top clergyman in the Green Bay area, often ended his messages with “God Bless.” Inside each card, Nate Lindstrom would find a check for $3,500 from the Norbertines of St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere. The money provided Lindstrom with another month of financial stability. But it also took him back to his days as a teenager in Green Bay, when Lindstrom said he endured sexual abuse at the hands of three Norbertine priests. In a 2019 investigation, Wisconsin Watch found at least 170 Wisconsin priests, including 20 Norbertines, had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. 

The Special Victims Unit at the Madison Police Department investigates cases of child abuse, neglect, sexual assault, child pornography and online child exploitation. Credit: Emily Hamer / Wisconsin State Journal

‘Unnoticed and unreported’: Child abuse reporting down during pandemic, while internet crimes increase

Wisconsin State Journal — November 29, 2020

Former Wisconsin Watch intern Emily Hamer reports that as the COVID-19 virus has killed thousands across Wisconsin, the pandemic has also had a detrimental effect on crimes against children — potentially causing some to go unnoticed and others to increase. In some Wisconsin municipalities, including Madison, reports of child abuse have gone down, but detectives say it’s likely not because there’s less crime but because some cases are not being reported. Meanwhile, internet crimes against children, such as child pornography and child exploitation, have increased. 

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.