MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today slammed Republicans in the Wisconsin State Senate for firing Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) Commissioner Tyler Huebner. The vote today is yet another escalation in an ongoing effort by legislative Republicans to baselessly fire Gov. Evers’ appointees or leave them indefinitely unconfirmed for months or even years. Senate Republicans in October voted to fire seven of the governor’s appointees to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, Wisconsin Elections Commission, Wisconsin Medical Examining Board, and the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse, respectively, citing little to no justification for doing so—a move criticized by members of the Republican Senate caucus.
“Commissioner Huebner is an exemplary public servant who’s dedicated to serving the people of Wisconsin and building the sustainable future we want for our state. The decision by Senate Republicans to fire him today defies justification and logic,” said Gov. Evers. “It’s my job to appoint the best and most qualified people to serve our state—that’s what I have been and will continue doing, regardless of the apparent Republican position that every appointee must agree with them 100 percent of the time to earn their support.
“These are qualified, hard-working Wisconsinites we’re talking about—they should be celebrated for their service and experience, not bullied, vilified, and fired for simply doing their jobs,” continued Gov. Evers. “Republicans’ ongoing efforts to harass, disparage, and fire dedicated public servants is a serious threat to the basic functions of our government and democracy in our state. Wisconsinites are sick of Republicans’ nonsense, and I don’t blame them.”
Huebner was appointed by Gov. Evers to be a commissioner at the PSC in March 2020 and was re-appointed to a six-year term, which began in March 2021. He is a member of the Energy Resources and the Environment Committee in the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and is Wisconsin’s representative on the Board of the Organization of MISO States, where he currently serves as president. Before joining the Commission, Huebner had served as the executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy nonprofit organization, since June 2013. Prior to that, he worked at the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy division. For both the state of Wisconsin and the federal DOE, Tyler worked in the low-income weatherization program, helping citizens reduce their energy bills. He started his career as a consultant with ICF International.
Republicans’ refusal to confirm Gov. Evers’ appointments represents a continued escalation of efforts by Wisconsin Republicans in recent years to upend basic functions of democracy, obstruct the peaceful and respectful transfer of power, and threaten, intimidate, and even baselessly fire individuals who may not share their political beliefs or who dare to publicly disagree with them.
Wisconsin Republicans have consistently refused to confirm Gov. Evers’ appointees, leaving them unconfirmed for months—even years—without any regard for individuals’ professional experience and background, including public members of various boards and commissions volunteering their personal time, experience, and expertise to serve the state of Wisconsin who previously received bipartisan support. In 2019, in an unprecedented move, Senate Republicans voted to fire Gov. Evers’ cabinet appointment to lead the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in the midst of a statewide dairy crisis—and despite widespread support from farmers and agricultural stakeholders—after he criticized Republicans for not releasing critical mental health funding for farmers. According to reporting by WisPolitics.com in 2019, records dating back to 1987 indicated that no gubernatorial cabinet nominee had been rejected by the Wisconsin State Senate, making Republicans’ move at the time completely unprecedented in modern Wisconsin history. In 2020, Republicans refused to confirm and even threatened to fire the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Evers also immediately announced an appointment to the PSC to ensure continuity and help prevent any disruption or delays at the Commission caused by today’s vote by the Wisconsin State Senate. Gov. Evers today announced he is appointing Kristy Nieto, currently a division administrator for energy regulation and analysis at the PSC, as PSC commissioner.
“Having been a dedicated public servant at the PSC for more than a decade, Kristy is uniquely qualified to serve as commissioner, and I look forward to her bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to this new role at the Commission,” said Gov. Evers. “We have important work to do to continue building upon our administration’s efforts to expand high-speed internet, among other key priorities, and I know Kristy’s years of experience at the PSC will be critical in guiding the Commission’s important work moving forward.”
“I would like to thank Gov. Evers for this opportunity to serve as Commissioner,” said Nieto. “With more than ten years of experience at the PSC, I am confident that my knowledge of the industry, leadership skills, and commitment to public service will successfully guide me in this role and help move the agency forward.”
Nieto has worked in state service since 2013, starting at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and PSC. She started her time at the PSC a decade ago as an advanced consumer analyst, later becoming an assistant division administrator for telecommunications and consumer affairs, deputy division administrator of business and program management, division administrator of digital access, consumer, and environmental affairs, and most recently, serving as division administrator of energy regulation and analysis. Nieto earned her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.