Newly leaked text messages show that board chairman Fred Prehn plans to stay on after his term ends, knowing that Republican lawmakers would refuse to confirm Evers’ nominee to replace him.
Two years after Scott Walker lost his re-election bid, one of his state Natural Resources Board (NRB) appointees sought and received the former governor’s blessing to implement a plan aimed at ensuring the Tories retain control of the council, according to text messages. obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Armed with Walker’s support, Dr Fred Prehn refused to step down after his term ended last year, ensuring the Tories remained in control,
Prehn, a dentist from Wausau, was president of the NRB when he sent the message to Walker on Nov. 11, 2020. According to the Journal Sentinel report, Prehn had been told by lawmakers — presumably Republicans — that while his term put late in May, they were unlikely to hold a confirmation vote for an Evers-appointed replacement. At that time, State Senate Republicans were sitting on many of Evers’ appointees, even though he was approaching halfway through his term.
“If possible, stay,” Walker replied. “Any voice that can counter their race [sic] worldview are good. It is likely that Walker meant to type “radical” instead of “racial”.
Prehn was appointed by Walker in 2015 for a six-year term at the NRB. By refusing to leave the council, Prehn has ensured that the conservative majority can continue to set policy direction for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) – an agenda that includes refusing to set a groundwater standard for industrial chemicals known as PFAS and the ordering of a wolf hunt widely seen as disastrous.
The text messages were discovered in a lawsuit against Prehn and the DNR filed by Midwest Environmental Advocates.
Prehn shared his plan with messages to other Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) who is delaying confirmation votes for Evers’ nominees.