Two Republican lawmakers have defied instructions from Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers by putting up a Christmas tree in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.
The Associated Press reported that each year the Wisconsin Department of Administration decorates the state Capitol building with an evergreen tree, usually decorated with ornaments constructed by school children. This year, however, the building is closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic and Evers decided not to put up what he referred to as a "holiday tree."
Republican Reps. Paul Tittl and Shae Sortwell apparently thought the governor was behaving like the Grinch, so they took matters into their own hands. They are still working in the building, like other lawmakers and their staff, so they installed their own tree, making a point to call it a "Christmas tree."
This fall, the Governor decided there wasn't going to be a ‘holiday tree’, or as most call it a Christmas tree, in… https://t.co/PseMSyEQyA— Rep. Paul Tittl (@Rep. Paul Tittl) 1607020683.0
"This year has also been horrible for many, so we wanted this tree to be something everyone can look forward to seeing and have a sense of hope," Tittl said. "Every year kids in Wisconsin look forward to making hand-made ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree. This tree gives kids throughout Wisconsin the opportunity to make their own ornaments and send them to our offices to decorate the tree."
The Wisconsin Assembly Republicans posted a video of the tree being installed, wishing Wisconsinites a Merry Christmas.
Rep. Sortwell & Rep. Tittl place Christmas tree in Wisconsin State capitol 2020 www.youtube.com
Records reviewed by the AP showed on Dec. 1 the lawmakers sought to obtain a permit for a "historical display" in the rotunda, making no reference to a Christmas tree. That permit application was denied the next day by the chief of the Capitol Police, who works for the Evers administration. He told the lawmakers that only the State Capitol and Executive Residence Board could approve decorations and that state law prohibits the DOA from permitting any exhibits on ground floor of the rotunda.
He added that the DOA is denying all permit requests for the interior of the Capitol because the building is closed to the public. DOA Assistant Deputy Secretary Olivia Hwang sent an email to Tittl and Sortwell explaining that the administration is denying all permit requests for decorations in the rotunda, but if they wanted they could put up Christmas decorations in their offices or in any space in a building controlled by the state Assembly.
The lawmakers ignored the bureaucrats.
"We really wanted to have a Christmas tree in the capitol. The governor said no, but we decided we were going to put one up anyhow," Tittl said.
Rep. Sortwell invited children from all around Wisconsin to make decorations and send them to the Republicans to help decorate the tree.