NATIONAL NEWS

Evers appoints replacement for University of Wisconsin regent who refuses to step down

May 31, 2024, 9:27 AM | Updated: 9:50 am

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers appointed a bankruptcy attorney Friday to replace a conservative-leaning Universities of Wisconsin regent who is refusing to step down.

Evers announced that he has appointed Tim Nixon to succeed Robert Atwell. Nixon works on law firm Godfrey & Kahn’s Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring Team. He holds a bachelor’s degree from UW-Green Bay and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“This is an opportunity to give back, in a unique way, to an institution that has done much for me and my family,” Nixon said in a statement released by Evers’ office.

But it’s unclear when or if Nixon will ever take his seat on the board.

Then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, named Atwell a regent in May 2017. His seven-year term expires this month but he has said he won’t step down until he chooses to do so or the state Senate confirms a successor.

The Legislature’s two-year session ended this spring and lawmakers aren’t expected to return to Madison until January. A message left with Senate Republican Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu’s office Friday inquiring about the prospects of senators returning early to vote on Nixon wasn’t immediately returned.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 2022 that political appointees don’t have to leave their posts until the Senate confirms a successor. The ruling came in a lawsuit Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed to force conservative Fred Prehn off the state Natural Resources Board.

Prehn’s term ended in May 2021 but he refused to leave before his replacement, Sandra Naas, won Senate confirmation, extending Republican control of the board. He eventually stepped down of his own accord at the end of 2022, clearing the way for Evers appointees to take majority control of the board in January 2023.

Evers also appointed Jack Salzwedel and Desmond Adongo as regents Friday.

Salzwedel, a former chairperson and CEO of American Family Mutual Insurance Company, replaces Walker-appointee Mike Jones, who vacated his seat after his term ended this month. His departure leaves Cris Peterson and Atwell as the only Walker appointees still on the board. Peterson’s term expires in May 2025.

Adongo, a UW-Oshkosh student, replaces Jennifer Staton as the board’s nontraditional student regent. Her two-year term ended this month as well.

Since their predecessors have made way for them, Salzwedel and Adongo can serve without Senate confirmation.

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Evers appoints replacement for University of Wisconsin regent who refuses to step down