• WisPolitics


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 8:20 AM 

Walker reached settlement with 10 vendors to reduce presidential campaign debt

Gov. Scott Walker reached settlements with 10 vendors paying them less than what he owed to help retire his campaign debt, according to a letter his campaign sent the FEC.

Walker's campaign announced on Friday that he had paid off his remaining bills from his failed presidential bid. That met his previous pledge to pay off his debts by the end of 2016, clearing the deck ahead of an expected bid for a third term in 2018.

According to the letter, Walker originally owed the 10 vendors $374,083, but reached deals to settle the debts collectively for $333,448, a reduction of $40,635.

The biggest reduction was the $10,000 Walker shaved off the $30,000 he owed Drucker Lawhorn LLP.

The debt reduction plan needs FEC approval, and the $40,635 was still listed as an outstanding debt on Walker's latest campaign finance filing.

That report, filed Friday, shows Walker had receipts of $223,726 in December, expenses of $172,471 and $71,870 left in the bank.

Walker's biggest source of income was $146,992 from Granite Lists for renting out his list of donors.

The report also reflected fundraisers he had in Philadelphia and New York at the end of November.

Some of his individual donors included $5,400 from Robert McNair, chairman and CEO of the NFL's Houston Texas.

He also listed two donations that were partly refunded and then attributed to the donor's wife. John Oliver, president of the Oliver Group in Missouri, donated $5,000 originally before half was late attributed to Rachel Oliver. Scott Wagner, president and owner of Penn Waste in Pennsylvania, originally donated $5,400 before half was attributed to Tracy Wagner.

Walker's biggest disbursement in December was the $100,000 he paid to FLS Connect LLC to over the last of his outstanding debt to the Minnesota telemarketing firm.

Read the letter:
http://wispolitics.com/1006/170115Walker.pdf

See Walker's report:
http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/


Friday, January 13, 2017

 3:06 PM 

Walker's campaign says he paid off presidential debt last month

Gov. Scott Walker paid off his remaining presidential campaign debt last month, meeting his promise to take care care of his outstanding bills by the end of 2016, according to a memo his campaign circulated this afternoon. 

Walker still owed $140,635 at the end of November as he continued to whittle away at the more the $1.2 million he owed when he dropped out of the race in September 2015. 

According to the memo, Walker's state campaign finished the year with just more than $59,000 in the bank. It offered no other details. 

The reports for his federal and state accounts are expected to be filed in the coming days, his campaign said.

-- By JR Ross


 8:12 AM 

State superintendent candidate proposes education board to oversee DPI

State superintendent candidate John Humphries is calling for a state education board that would boost oversight of the state's top education official.

Humphries said Thursday the current superintendent, Tony Evers, is "out of ideas and out of excuses for our state's stagnant performance." The board, he said, is aimed at getting new ideas from parents, students and educators, which he said Evers doesn't do enough.

"Wisconsin children deserve better than the same failed leadership and lack of accountability they've had with Tony Evers at DPI for 16 years," he said. "It's time for a new direction. It's time for genuine accountability for educational results in Wisconsin."

Humphries, a former Dodgeville School District official, is challenging incumbent Tony Evers, along with former Whitnall School District superintendent Lowell Holtz. The Feb. 21 primary will decide which two candidates will make it to the April 4 general election.

Humphries' proposed Education Accountability Board would, among other things, have the final say over the Department of Public Instruction's administrative rulemaking and audit DPI's accountability measures to "ensure DPI is effectively using, but not abusing, its authority to help low-performing schools and teacher preparation programs improve."

The board, whose president would be a guv appointee, would have nine members who would serve three-year terms. Those members would be appointed by lawmakers from both parties and would serve no more than two terms. The majority of the board would be students, parents and educators.

See Humphries' statement:
http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=384348

The two other candidates said Humphries' proposal amounted to more bureaucracy.

"We don't need more bureaucracy or more centralized control," said Evers' campaign manager Amanda Brink.

"The state legislature passes education laws, while the State Superintendent is directly accountable to the citizens," Brink said. "Our Founders debated this at length when writing our Constitution, and they wisely created an independent State Superintendent for a reason."

Brink also defended Evers, saying he "convenes and participates in dozens of advisory councils across our state." Input gathered there, she said, help shape DPI policies.

Holtz echoed Brink's criticism, saying Humphries' proposal adds "another layer of bureaucracy."

"Expanding government feels good to some, but the reality is it would give more power to bureaucrats in Madison and not to the school districts and parents where it belongs," he said. "I believe in local control. Unelected appointees usurping power from Wisconsin's elected school boards is simply counter-productive to real school reform."

Read Evers' statement:
http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=384360


Thursday, January 5, 2017

 9:23 AM 

Feingold outraised Johnson by nearly $3.9M

Dem Russ Feingold outraised U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson by almost $3.9 million in a losing effort, according to their post-election reports.

But adding in outside group spending tips the balance in Johnson's favor in a race that cost at least $72 million. 

The detailed summary pages for Feingold's post-election report, which his campaign provided to WisPolitics.com, shows net contributions of nearly $24 million and net expenditures of almost $23.8 million. He finished the post-election period with $198,547 in the bank. 

Johnson, meanwhile, had net contributions of $20.1 million, net expenditures of $20.2 million and $149,288 left in the bank on Nov. 28. 

A tally by OpenSecrets.org, though, pegs pro-Johnson spending by outside groups for the cycle at $18.7 million and $9.8 million for Feingold.

-- By JR Ross


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

 5:10 PM 

Ziegler to run unopposed for re-election to state Supreme Court

Justice Annette Ziegler will face no challengers in the upcoming spring election, the first Supreme Court incumbent in more than 10 years to run for re-election unopposed. 

Meanwhile, state Superintendent Tony Evers drew two challengers: Lowell Holtz, of Palmyra, and John Humphries, of Mount Horeb. 

The deadline to file candidacy and nomination papers was 5 p.m. today. The finalized ballot status will not be available until later tonight or tomorrow morning, an Elections Commission spokesman said.

The primary will be Feb. 21, while the general election is April 4. 



 8:05 AM 

Ziegler may be unopposed in re-election bid

State Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler may be unopposed this spring in her bid for a second 10-year term.


No one had registered to challenge Ziegler by the latest update from the Elections Commission, which was posted late Friday. The deadline to file candidacy and nomination papers, including a minimum of 2,000 signatures to run for the state Supreme Court, is 5 p.m. today.


Ziegler filed her signatures Dec. 22. The last Supreme Court justice to be unopposed for re-election was Pat Crooks in 2006.


Meanwhile, four people have filed a declaration of candidacy to challenge state Superintendent Tony Evers, while a fifth person has filed a campaign registration statement. The five are: Jeffrey Holmes, of Germantown; Rick Melcher, of Racine; Lowell Holtz, of Palmyra; Remberto Andres Gomez, of Tomah; and John Humphries, of Mount Horeb.


The primary would be Feb. 21 with the general election April 4.


See a list of candidates registered so far:


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

 10:04 AM 

Walker's presidential campaign still $140k in debt at end of November

Scott Walker’s presidential campaign still owed $140,635 at the end of November, but sources close to the guv expressed confidence he will meet his goal of paying off the debt by year’s end.

Walker had fundraisers in Philadelphia and New York in late November that were aimed at helping retire his presidential campaign debt. That includes one event at the Hunt & Fish Club in New York that Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended.

But the November report, filed yesterday afternoon, lists only three individual donations posted starting the day of the first event in Philadelphia. That suggests the bulk of the contributions from those fundraisers posted after the end of last month. 

Overall, Walker listed $18,782 in receipts for November, $149,491 in disbursements and $20,616 cash on hand. 

Walker listed more than $1 million in outstanding obligations after he dropped his presidential bid in 2015. He has been chipping away at the remaining debt since then, largely through income from renting his donor lists, while also starting to ramp up fundraising for his state account ahead of a possible re-election bid in 2018.

The latest federal filing shows $17,520 in individual donations and $1,262 from Granite Lists, the New Hampshire firm that’s been renting Walker’s donor lists.

The bulk of his debt was $100,000 he owes FLS Connect, a direct mail firm out of St. Paul, Minn. 

-- By JR Ross


Monday, December 19, 2016

 12:18 PM 

Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes formally cast for Trump, Pence

Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes were formally cast Monday for Donald Trump to become president and Mike Pence vice president.

Several protesters pleaded with electors not to vote for Trump, warning of his ties to Russia and taking other shots at the president-elect.

One man stood up before the vote, holding a sign.

As he was led out, he shouted over his shoulder to the electors, "You’re electing someone who’s going to destroy the world."

Another woman exploded after the voting, yelling at the electors, "This is my America!" with both fists in the air.

The electors continued on unperturbed.

-- By JR Ross


 10:20 AM 

Protesters gather at Capitol ahead of electors' meeting

Protesters gathered at the Capitol today ahead of the meeting of the state’s electors, asking them to “do the right thing” and select someone other than Donald Trump.

They moved in and out of the Capitol to avoid sub-zero temperatures, holding signs asking electors to “please vote your conscience,” saying Trump does not have a mandate and that “this is not OK.”

“This isn’t the season to be quiet,” said Mary Schnelzer, a 56-year old from Madison.

Trump, she said, is the “most inexperienced and dangerous” political candidate to ever be on the ballot. And she said “in my worst dreams” she couldn’t imagine someone as president who’s spoken about women, immigrants and Muslims the way he has.

Most of the protesters were from the liberal group Democracy Spring, though some were part of the Hamilton Electors group that wants a “qualified Republican alternative.”

Joel Besemer, the state organizer for Democracy Spring, acknowledged the difficulty of getting the Republican electors to decline to formally cast Wisconsin's electoral votes for Trump, though he said “miracles can happen.”

Besemer, who runs a homeless shelter in Stevens Point, said they wanted to “tarnish [Trump’s] legitimacy” by pointing out he lost the popular vote.

“You can’t come in talking about a mandate,” Besemer said.

Jim Hudson and his son Daniel came from Wheaton, Ill., Madison is closer to their home than their state Capitol in Springfield.

Daniel Hudson, a 22-year old student at Wheaton College, said he’s bothered by Trump’s “narcissism” and “impulsiveness,” as well as the “racist rhetoric” he displayed throughout the campaign.

And Jim Hudson, a 58-year-old translation consultant, said the Electoral College should be a stopgap against dangerous candidates.

“It’s sort of like the last line of defense,” Jim Hudson said.

-- By Polo Rocha


video


Thursday, December 15, 2016

 4:30 PM 

AG Schimel to seek second term in 2018

GOP AG Brad Schimel told WisPolitics.com today he’ll seek re-election to a second term in 2018, adding he has kept his promise to follow the rule of law and “hold the federal administration at bay.”

Schimel said he also will run on his plan to continuing fighting drug addiction and working to eliminate a backlog of untested sexual assault forensic evidence kits.

Schimel said in the interview he promised voters he wouldn’t substitute his judgment for that of elected legislators and has done that.

“We have gone to court and vigorously battled,” Schimel said. “Sometimes we’ve defended laws vigorously that I don’t necessarily agree with. Because we did our job well, no one’s ever going to know which ones those were.”

See more from the interview in today's PM Update and tomorrow's Report.

-- By JR Ross


 8:54 AM 

Voting machine audits waived for municipalities that conducted hand recount


Local election officials in counties that didn't do a hand recount of their presidential ballots might have a little more work coming their way.

That's if they were selected by the Elections Commission as part of the traditional post-election audit of voting equipment to make sure machines are counting votes accurately. The commission had put that audit on hold as it prepared for the first-ever recount of the state's presidential votes.

With those nearly 3 million votes now recounted, commissioners decided Wednesday to resume the audits.

But on a 4-2 vote, the commission decided to exempt from the audit the municipalities where officials did the recount by hand.

In all, 107 reporting units within municipalities were randomly selected to be part of the audit. And 75 of them either did their recounts by hand and will be exempted from the audit or had already finished it.

That leaves 32 reporting units that will have to continue with the audit because they conducted their recounts using machines. Still, those municipalities will have until Jan. 31 to complete the audits so that they "can have a pleasant holiday" after all their work in the recount, said Commissioner Ann Jacobs.

The audit and recount differ in several ways.

The presidential recount only focused on the top of the ticket and is a more comprehensive review of results within the race, with officials needing to review ballots for voter intent and check poll books, for example. Forty-seven of the state's 72 counties did their recount by hand.

The audit is only about verifying that the equipment is accurately counting ballots, though officials are required to review the results in four races, including the presidential race. And while county officials had a choice on which method they'd use for their recounts, the audits are done entirely by hand.

The commission's action was a compromise between two positions: stopping the audit altogether this year or ensuring all municipalities that were selected would complete it.

Elections Commission staff was "torn" about the right approach, Elections Supervisor Ross Hein said, and wanted to see what the options commission would go with.

Commissioner Julie Glancey proposed the exemption, saying elections officials who did a hand recount went "above and beyond." But the commission, she said, has a responsibility to reassure those who believe the state's voting machines "can be hacked."

"We have a responsibility to make that perfectly clear, and we need to complete the audit," Glancey said. "We're not doing it for us, because everyone in this room knows the machines are fine. We're doing it for the skeptics in the world that think they're not."

Commission Chair Mark Thomsen and Commissioner Steve King voted against the exemption and preferred stopping the audits altogether.

King said the commission represents taxpayers who "would laugh at us" if they knew the state spent money on additional checks of election results following the recount, which took a $3.5 million payment from Jill Stein's campaign to get started.

Thomsen agreed, saying the commission needs to make "decisions that matter in the real world." And even after the audit, he said, they'll still "have the same skeptics that will think this audit is nonsense" and continue to insist the state's voting machines aren't reliable.

Jacobs, though, noted another reason to keep the audit going in areas that didn't do a hand recount. The Legislative Audit Bureau, she said, "came down very hard" on the now-defunct Government Accountability Board for significant delays in completing the audits in the past.

"There's no reason to stick our heads into the mouth of a tiger again," Jacobs said.


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