By Milwaukee Staff
On Thursday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Kelly appeared at an event headlined by anti-abortion extremist Matthew Trewhella. During his speech in St. Croix County, Trewhella compared public health guidance during the COVID pandemic to the Holocaust. Trewhella has previously said the murder of an anti-abortion provider was “justifiable homicide.”
Trewhella’s anti-abortion extremism stretches back decades. In the 1990s, Trewhella was investigated as a possible conspirator in a campaign of violence against abortion clinics.
Also during that time, Trewhella advocated for organizing militias in Wisconsin for residents opposed to abortion, gun control, and taxes.
Unsurprisingly, Trewhella is only the latest far-right extremist to ally himself with Kelly.
Last week, the Wisconsin Examiner reported that election denier and conspiracy theorist Scott Presler had arrived in Wisconsin for a month to campaign for Kelly. Presler has a long history of right-wing extremism, having previously worked as an “activism strategist” for a radical anti-Muslim hate group. In recent years, Presler has regularly promoted election misinformation and organized several “stop the steal’ rallies in the weeks before the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol—which Presler himself atsupport had been “invaluable.”
Kelly’s ties to extremism have also taken the form of anti-abortion special interest groups, which have eagerly lined up to endorse his campaign and pour millions of dollars into television ads to prop up his candidacy.
During the Wisconsin Supreme Court debate on Tuesday, Kelly claimed he made no promises to anti-abortion groups to receive their endorsement—a claim that runs contrary to the endorsements themselves.
One group, Pro-Life Wisconsin, states openly that the group only endorses candidates “who recognize the personhood of the preborn baby and hold the principled and compassionate no-exceptions pro-life position.” Pro-Life Wisconsin insists on a “100% pro-life” position from a candidate in order to endorse.
Wisconsin Right to Life, tended.
On Wednesday, Kelly told the Associated Press he was not concerned that Presler had been on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th and his another anti-abortion group, stated explicitly on their website at the time they endorsed Kelly that the group only endorsed “candidates who have pledged to champion pro-life values and stand with Wisconsin Right to Life’s legislative strategy.” The page was later changed, with an added disclaimer claiming that the group “endorses candidates whose judicial philosophies and values fit with those of Wisconsin Right to Life.”
Kelly’s attempt to sidestep responsibility for this wide array of extremist ties is deeply concerning, and reflects not just his radical politics, but his extremely bad judgment.