Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services staffer fired for alerting DOT that photo IDs are free

Things have happened so fast that some may have forgotten about what Scott Walker did with the state budget regarding dissolving some departments and installing in his own people and merging into a new department:

Governor Walker’s signature on the 2011-13 state budget marks the start of the new Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) – formed by combining the Department of Regulation and Licensing and parts of the Department of Commerce.
Department of Safety and Professional Services

Why is this important? Look no further than the Voter Photo ID legislation that was passed based on the Republican lie that there is massive vote fraud. Even Republican investigations have found that the “problem” is that 0.003% of voters commit voter fraud both Wisconsin and nationally. So with the need for a Photo ID specifically issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) in order to vote, part of the millions of dollars in taxpayer costs is to issue those IDs for free. Otherwise, it’s a poll tax like in the Jim Crow days, which means you have to pay to vote.

DOT recently was exposed for releasing a memo telling staff not to tell those wanting a photo ID that it was free. So when a DSPS employee sends an email to DOT staff and others that the photo IDs are supposed to be free, he gets mysteriously fired within hours of sending an email advising DOT staff to follow the law:

Chris Larsen, who had worked in the mail room at the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, sent an email Thursday morning to all employees at the agency’s headquarters explaining that the DOT would provide photo IDs to people only if they specifically asked to have the fee waived.

A couple of hours later, Larsen was fired.

“It’s insane,” he said.

John Murray, the executive assistant at the Department of Safety and Professional Services, confirmed Larsen had been fired Thursday and said the firing is under review. He said Larsen had a series of documented work rule violations, including past instances of inappropriately using work email.

Larsen, however, said he had not previously been disciplined.

In May, Republicans approved a requirement that voters show photo ID at the polls starting next year. They also told the DOT to give out free IDs for voting purposes to ensure the ID requirement was not an illegal poll tax.

The department began giving out the free IDs in July but told employees in a memo to provide them for free only if people asked not to be charged. If they don’t ask, they are charged $28.


Here is the actual email that Larson sent:

“Do you know someone who votes that does not have a State ID that meets requirements to vote? Tell them they can go to the DMV/DOT and get a free ID card. However they must ask for the free ID. a memo was sent out by the 3rd in command of the DMV/DOT. The memo specifically told the employees at the DMV/DOT not to inform individuals that the ID’s are free. So if the individuals seeking to get the free ID does not ask for a free ID, they will have to pay for it!!


We all need to thank Chris Larson for his email and allowing the story to expose the Walker administration and their minions for attempting to try to mislead voters trying to get photo IDs. This is obviously only the tip of the iceberg.

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