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Thursday, May 5, 2011

 6:26 PM 

DPW challenges recall petitions against three Dem senators

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin today filed a challenge to the recall petitions against three of its senators, charging signatures were gathered through "forgery, fraud and general misconduct in the context of a recall effort from all three districts."

The filings are the first challenges to the recall petitions against Sens. Dave Hansen of Green Bay, Jim Holperin of Conover and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie, while Republicans have already filed challenges to the efforts to recall at least four of their members.

Dems said they have gathered nearly 200 written statements from individuals saying they were decieved into signing recall petitions, and have uncovered thousands of additional examples of fraudulent recall processes. Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, said he believes that the challenge, if upheld, will result in all three recall efforts being tossed out by the Government Accountability Board.

"We have discovered a systemic pattern of misconduct, deceit and misinformation by these out of state circulators," Miller said at a Madison press conference, charging that the state Republican Party paid $92,000 to a Colorado firm -- Kennedy Enterprises -- that paid circulators according to number of recall signatures collected.

DPW attorney Jeremy Levinson added that some circulators used fraudulent addresses, which should negate all of their collected signatures and subject them to criminal penalties.

Levinson said the GAB has the authority to toss the recall efforts based on the evidence provided by Dems alone, but said even tallying up all the violations would leave all three efforts well short of the signature threshold to trigger a recall election.

"In all my years of doing political election law in this state, I've never seen anything that comes close to this," Levinson said.

State GOP Executive Director Mark Jefferson promised that all three Dems would remain on the recall ballot this summer.

“After harassing thousands of Wisconsin citizens in an attempt to intimidate them into removing their signatures, it appears Democrats found only a few hundred signatures to directly challenge, out of 60,000 submitted," Jefferson said in a statement. “Even in the unlikely event their challenges of individuals' signatures will be upheld, they fall far short of what is needed to prevent recall elections."

-- By Andy Szal

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