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Walker appointee Fred Prehn resigns from Wisconsin DNR board

Wisconsin DNR

A member of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource's policy board appointed by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker who refused to step down even after his term ended nearly two years ago said Friday that he was resigning.

Fred Prehn, who won a lawsuit seeking to oust him from the Natural Resources Board after his term ended in May 2021, informed Gov. Tony Evers of his intent to resign in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Prehn said his resignation will take effect Dec. 30.

“It is time for the state legislators to act on Governor Evers nomination as soon as practical and it is now time for me to move on,” Prehn wrote.

Evers' spokesperson Britt Cudaback had no immediate comment on the resignation.

Prehn, a Wausau dentist, was appointed by Walker in 2015. He refused to step down after his term ended, denying Evers’ appointee Sandra Naas a seat and maintaining a 4-3 majority for Republican appointees.

Prehn, after his term ended, cast the deciding vote to increase the quota for the state’s wolf hunt and to scrap limits of so-called forever chemicals in groundwater. Earlier this month, Prehn was part of a unanimous vote to restart the process of setting PFAS limits, a process that will take years to complete.

The Republican-controlled Senate refused to confirm Naas and Prehn argued he didn't have to leave his seat until his replacement was confirmed. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul sued seeking to force Prehn off the board, but the conservative-controlled Supreme Court ruled in June that political appointees don’t have to leave their posts until the Senate confirms their successor.

“I have always said I will vacate my seat when the Senate confirms my replacement or when I choose to do so,” Prehn said in his resignation letter. “Unfortunately, it took the Supreme Court to confirm my decision to stay on at great expense for the taxpayer and an immense personal price.”

Prehn's replacement is one of dozens of Evers appointees the Senate refused to confirm. But after Evers won reelection in November, Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said he expected the Evers picks to receive up or down votes next year.

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