• WisPolitics

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

 1:39 PM 

GAB rejects Nygren's request to reconsider

The GAB has rejected Rep. John Nygren’s request to reconsider its decision to kick him off the ballot in the 30th SD recall election for failing to turn in enough valid signatures.

That leaves a Dane County court the only avenue for the Marinette Republican in his attempt to get back on the ballot.

In a letter to Nygren’s attorney, Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy writes there is no right to request reconsideration under state statutes. What’s more, Kennedy wrote Nygren’s campaign had failed to establish sufficient grounds for the board to reconsider its decision.

Kennedy wrote Nygren’s campaign had only presented new information on one signer. Even if the board reconsidered its decision in light of that evidence, Nygren would still only have 399 valid signatures, one short of the 400 he needs to get on the ballot.

-- By JR Ross


 11:59 AM 

Daily Kos polls find Kapanke down significantly, Hopper slightly behind, Harsdorf just ahead

The liberal website Daily Kos has released three new polls in Wisconsin’s recall elections, finding GOP Sens. Dan Kapanke down significantly, Randy Hopper slightly behind and Sheila Harsdorf slightly ahead of their opponents.

In the Harsdorf race, the Republican incumbent led Dem teacher Shelly Moore 50 percent to 45 percent in a poll of 1,200 likely voters. The survey by the Dem firm Public Policy Polling had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points and was conducted June 23-26.

The poll found Harsdorf’s job performance approval-disapproval split was 48 percent to 45 percent, while 46 percent had an unfavorable view of Moore and 36 percent had a favorable view of her. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed disapproved of President Obama’s job performance, while 49 percent disapproved of Gov. Scott Walker’s job performance.

In the Hopper race, Oshkosh Deputy Mayor Jessica King was favored 50 percent to 47 percent in a poll of 1,178 likely voters. Conducted June 23-26 by PPP, the margin of error was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Those surveyed were split on Hopper’s job performance 47-47, while King’s favorability split was 47-34. Fifty-two percent disapproved of the president’s job performance, while 51 percent disapproved of Walker’s work.

In the Kapanke race, Dem Rep. Jen Shilling was up 56 percent to 42 percent in the survey of 1,902 likely voters. The survey, done June 23-26, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

The survey also found 54 percent of respondents disapproved of Kapanke’s job performance, while 57 percent disapproved of Walker’s job performance. President Obama’s approval-disapproval split was 49-42 in a district he won overwhelmingly three years ago.

-- By JR Ross


 10:55 AM 

Tate calls Nygren appeal a 'joke'

State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate today called John Nygren’s appeal to get on the ballot in the 30th SD recall election a “joke,” noting the GOP lawmaker didn’t even bother to sign his own nomination papers.

Meanwhile, Nygren's attorney argues that while he didn't sign the nomination papers as an elector, his signature on one of the documents for circulating it should count toward the 400 he needs to be on the ballot.

"This is a joke; 400 signatures is not hard to get" Tate said in a conference call with reporters.

The GAB unanimously ruled Monday that the Marinette Republican had 398 valid signatures, leaving him two short of the threshold to challenge Hansen. Nygren has appealed the decision to both the GAB and the Dane County court.

In addition to filing an appeal in Dane County court, Nygren has asked the Government Accountability Board to reconsider its decision, arguing the body did not take enough time during its first review to adequately consider the issues at hand.

Nygren is also now asking the GAB to count his signature on the nomination papers as a circulator.

Circulators are required to sign the nomination papers they use to collect signatures from electors and have to pledge to support the candidacy of the candidate listed on the documents.

Nygren circulated page eight of his nomination papers, according to a letter to GAB Director Kevin Kennedy.

Nygren attorney Eric McLeod argues the information included with the Republican’s signature as a circulator meet the requirements under state law and administrative code for those who sign the papers as electors.

“Moreover, Rep. Nygren’s certification that he intends to support his own candidacy stands as the substantial compliance the GAB’s regulations require,” McLeod argues.

Nygren’s campaign argued in a separate letter that a signer who mistakenly listed his work address, which is outside of the district, should still be counted. Between his signature and Nygren’s as a circulator, McLeod argues, the Republican has at a minimum the 400 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

In the past, the GAB has not counted the signatures of circulators toward the required number of signatures from electors.

-- By Andy Szal


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

 2:51 PM 

Nygren asks Dane County court to put him on ballot

GOP state Rep. John Nygren asked a Dane County court today to order the Government Accountability Board to place him on the ballot in the 30th SD recall election.

Nygren also asked for an order staying the GAB's decision to deny him a spot on the ballot after the board ruled he was two short of the 400 valid signatures needed to qualify.

He also raised an alternative of requiring the GAB to take more time to review the challenge to his nomination papers and his response, arguing there was an "unreasonably short time allowed" for both. The challenges to his nomination papers were filed on Friday, and the GAB required a response by 8 a.m. Monday.

-- By JR Ross


Monday, June 27, 2011

 4:29 PM 

Nygren vows to 'pursue further legal options'

Rep. John Nygren today said he'll look at legal options to challenge today's GAB decision ousting him from the recall ballot in the 30th SD.

Nygren, R-Marinette, said he was "disheartened" by the GAB vote, ripping Hansen for supporting "billions of dollars of job-killing taxes supported by his liberal friends in Madison."

A GAB spokesman said today that Nygren can go to circuit court to appeal the decision, but that the process of rehabilitating signatures expired with today's vote.

“The simple fact that over 15,000 individuals in northeastern Wisconsin signed papers to recall Dave Hansen shows the distrust and frustration the taxpayers of this district have in their Senator," Nygren said in a statement. "Since Dave Hansen has chosen legal maneuvers to silence the voters of northeastern Wisconsin, I feel obligated to my supporters to fight this decision and pursue further legal options.”

-- By Andy Szal


 3:00 PM 

GAB kicks Nygren off the ballot

The Government Accountability Board today ruled GOP state Rep. John Nygren didn't have enough valid signatures on his nomination papers to qualify for the ballot in the 30th SD recall election.

The board found Nygren, R-Marinette, had 398 valid signatures, two short of what he needed. Earlier in the afternoon, the board rejected a challenge to Republican David VanderLeest's nomination papers, leaving him the only Republican on the ballot to challenge Dem Sen. Dave Hansen.

That sets up a July 19 election between VanderLeest and Hansen, D-Green Bay.

-- By Andy Szal


 1:27 PM 

GAB puts Lussow on ballot, take up other challenges

The Government Accountability Board has voted to place Lincoln County Board Chairman Bob Lussow on the ballot for the July 19 primary.

Dems late last week filed a series of challenges to four of the six GOP candidates seeking to take on Dem senators in recall elections this summer.

Lussow, a Republican, is running in the 12th SD for a shot at challenging Dem Sen. Jim Holperin. Lussow could face Eagle River Republican Kim Simac, whose candidacy was also challenged. The GAB is considering all of the challenges this afternoon.

The GAB will also rule on the ballot status of Republicans David VanderLeest and John Nygren, who are vying to take on Dem Sen. Dave Hansen in the 30th Senate District.

UPDATE: 1:31 -- Simac has been approved for the ballot.

UPDATE: 1:58 p.m. -- VanderLeest is on the ballot.

The GAB is now on the challenges to Nygren's candidacy. GAB staff has recommended the board find Nygren turned in 398 valid signatures, which would leave him below the 400 needed to qualify for the ballot.

-- By Andy Szal


 9:45 AM 

GAB to consider challenges to recall candidates

The Government Accountability Board will meet this afternoon to consider the challenges filed against four of the six GOP candidates who want to face Dem senators in recall elections.

The challenges against Robert Lussow and Kim Simac in Sen. Jim Holperin's 12th SD and Rep. John Nygren and David VanderLeest in the Sen. Dave Hansen's 30th SD seek to knock the Republicans off the ballot for various alleged deficiencies in their nomination papers.

Responses from the GOP candidates were due by 8 a.m. today, and a spokesman for Senate Republicans said each campaign was responding to the challenges individually.

The responses for Nygren, R-Marinette, and VanderLeest, of Green Bay, are posted here.

-- By Staff


Friday, June 24, 2011

 4:48 PM 

Four GOP recall candidates challenged

Challenges have been filed against four of the six GOP candidates challenging Dem senators in recall elections by today's filing deadline.

The state Dem party filed challenges against signatures acquired by both candidates in the 12th Senate District -- Eagle River Republican Kim Simac and Lincoln County Board Chairman Robert Lussow -- along with state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.

Simac and Lussow filed to face off in a July 19 primary for the right to challenge Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover, in an Aug. 16 recall election.

The Government Accountability Board says a second group filed challenges against Nygren's signatures, while a group has also challenged his 32nd SD primary opponent and recall organizer David VanderLeest. The winner of that primary would face Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.

No challenges were filed in the 22nd SD, where Kenosha County Supervisor Fred Ekornaas and attorney Jonathan Steitz are vying to oust Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie.

All six GOP recall candidates filed their economic interest statements with the GAB by today's deadline.

The GAB has scheduled a Monday meeting to consider the challenges.

The candidates in six recall elections in GOP-held Senate seats were not challenged by last week's deadline; primaries in those districts are set for July 12 with general elections on Aug. 9.

-- By Andy Szal


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

 4:53 PM 

Dem, GOP recall challenges consolidated

All challenges to the Government Accountability Board's certification of recall petitions will be considered in a single court action under an order in Dane County Circuit Court.

The challenges filed by six GOP senators and three Dems will be considered simultaneously by Judge Richard Niess. Initial briefs from both Dem and GOP attorneys are due June 29, followed by responses on July 5 and replies on July 7.

Niess said he expects to decide on the challenges by the first scheduled round of recall primaries on July 12, and that voters in those districts should presume that those elections will be held.

Dem attorney Jeremy Levinson originally objected to consolidation, saying combining the starkly different legal arguments could slow down the recall process. But he said the schedule laid out in court today satisfied his concerns.

Eric McLeod, attorney for the GOP recall operations, offered an informal motion to stay the July 12 primaries during today's hearing if the court found the proposed timetable too close to Election Day. Niess denied that motion, but said the issue could be raised again "if it becomes unmanageable to get a decision out in time for the election."

McLeod said after the hearing that he wasn't concerned about the denial of that motion, noting that his clients are preparing for July 12 and 19 election days anyway.

Niess said he expects to rule on the briefings alone, and the attorneys agreed that the court should consider the matter as an agency review -- utilizing solely the GAB's meeting materials and the recall petitions themselves as evidence.

-- By Andy Szal


 4:52 PM 

GOP files complaint over Moore's use of school email account

The Republican Party of Wisconsin has filed a complaint with the GAB against recall candidate Shelly Moore for sending "overtly political emails" using her school email account.

Moore, running against incumbent candidate Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, is a public school teacher in the Ellsworth School District. According to the complaint, Moore used her official school account between February and April of 2011 to organize the recall of Harsdorf, and to discuss political activity and union-organized political events "on several occasions, many during official school hours."

Moore wrote in one email: "We’re not supposed to use school email, but since all of our rights are being taken away, I don’t frankly care."

But a spokesperson for the state Democratic Party says, "Shelly was absolutely not using taxpayer dollars for campaign purposes -- no campaign even existed when these emails were sent. This blatantly political stunt is only a distraction from the real issue at hand."

See the RPW complaint:


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

 5:18 PM 

Two candidates each file to challenge Dem senators

Six candidates filed with the GAB to challenge recalled Democratic state senators by today's filing deadline.

In the expansive northeastern Wisconsin 12th District, GAB staff has certified 711 signatures filed by Eagle River Republican Kim Simac and 588 signatures for Lincoln County Board Chairman Robert Lussow. They'll vie to challenge Sen. Jim Holperin of Conover.

The board also certified 653 signatures for Kenosha County Supervisor Fred Ekornaas to challenge Sen. Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie. Attorney Jonathan Steitz submitted some 800 signatures in the Kenosha-area 22nd District.

And in the Green Bay-area 30th District, state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, filed 440 signatures, while David VanderLeest, organizer of the recall effort against Green Bay Sen. Dave Hansen, filed 470 signatures.

The primaries in those three seats have been set for July 19; the general election would take place Aug. 16.

-- By Andy Szal


 5:05 PM 

GAB seeks consolidation of recall challenges

Attorneys for the GAB today notified attorneys for Dem and GOP recall efforts that they'll request consolidation of all challenges to the board's recall certifications into a single court action.

"The GAB has an interest in moving these cases forward to resolution as expeditiously as possible," DOJ attorneys write. "Whether or not consolidation is granted, GAB will advocate for expedited briefing on the merits, but consolidation would likely further enable an expeditious resolution."

Eric McLeod, attorney for the six GOP senators and the committees to recall three Dems, said he'd support consolidating the challenges.

But Dem attorney Jeremy Levinson said today that while the GOP cases fit the "dictionary definition" of consolidation, his case on behalf of the three Dem senators presents completely distinct legal issues.

Levinson said that while he's not "going to go to the mat on it," he does worry that combining all the issues in the cases could slow the entire proceeding down.

GAB attorneys said the motion would be filed with Dane County Judge Richard Niess, who is presiding over the recall challenge with the lowest case number.

-- By Andy Szal


 4:37 PM 

Nomination papers streaming in for recalls against Dem senators

Nomination papers for the recalls against three Democratic senators are due today at 5 p.m.

So far, the GAB's website, last updated at 4 p.m., only shows the number of signatures submitted for two candidates.

In the 30th SD recall, Josh O'Harrow filed papers last week to declare his candidacy as a Democrat. O'Harrow told WisPolitics.com that he was not happy with Sen. Dave Hansen leaving the state during the budget repair battle and was unsatisfied with the Republicans in the race. He was unable to collect enough signatures, however, and will not turn in any nomination papers, he said.

The list of candidates and number of signatures submitted is below:

12th SD

Jim Holperin (D-Conover): Incumbent
Kim Simac (R- Eagle River)
Robert Lussow (Non-Partisan- Tomahawk): 588

22nd SD

Robert Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie): Incumbent
Jonathan Steitz (R-Pleasant Prairie)
Fred Ekornaas (R-Bristol): 653

30th SD

Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay): Incumbent
John Nygren (R-Marinette)
David VanderLeest (R-Green Bay)

See the GAB's list of candidates here.

-- By David Wise


Monday, June 20, 2011

 5:09 PM 

GOP attorney wants recall challenges considered together

The attorney for Republican senators facing recall, as well as the committees to recall three Dem senators, believes the nine challenges to the Government Accountability Board's recall certifications should be consolidated for the sake of both efficiency and consistency.

"Our view is that all of the actions, including those related to the three Democrat senators, ought to be recalled into a single action," Eric McLeod told WisPolitics Monday.

A motion filed by Dem attorney Jeremy Levinson sought the consolidation of the six challenges by GOP senators. McLeod said he wouldn't be opposed to that, but added a single judge should evaluate each recall -- Dem and Republican -- in a consistent manner.

He acknowledged that while the Dem and GOP recall petitions raised widely different legal issues, "the procedural and general review questions are all going to be similar."

McLeod said he didn't know if the issue would be raised in a hearing over GOP Sen. Dan Kapanke's challenge scheduled for Wednesday, but that he expected a motion to combine the cases to be filed before that hearing.

Levinson did not return a call from WisPolitics this afternoon.

-- By Andy Szal


Friday, June 17, 2011

 4:46 PM 

No challenges filed to recall candidate signatures

The recall election fields in six GOP-held Senate districts are set after no challenges were filed to 12 candidates' signatures by today's deadline.

The Government Accountability Board said those 12 candidates have also filed their economic interest statements, making them eligible for the July 12 ballot.

That leaves six Dem candidates to face primaries against six GOP-backed "protest" candidates next month. The winners will face recalled GOP senators in an Aug. 9 recall election.

Three Dem placeholder candidates did not file economic interest statements after the state party announced it would not seek to place them in the Dem primary field.

The GAB was scheduled to meet Monday if any challenges were filed to signatures; without any such challenges, the agency said the meeting would not be held.

-- By Andy Szal


 11:55 AM 

Dems say they'll drop placeholder candidates in recall elections

The state Dem Party announced today it will not put placeholder candidates in the recall elections this summer, a move it had previously announced in an effort to ensure all of the GOP recall elections happened on the same day.

Today is the deadline for candidates to file their economic interest statements and for challenges to be filed in nomination papers for those seeking to run against the GOP incumbents.

According to the GAB, all six of the candidates Republicans have put up have filed their economic interest statements after earlier this week filing their nomination papers.

Dem Chair Mike Tate said the presence of those candidates means all of the primaries in those elections will be July 12, making the placeholder candidates unnecessary.

-- By JR Ross


Thursday, June 16, 2011

 2:23 PM 

15 candidates submit more than required number of signatures to get on ballot

According to a GAB report, 15 candidates have submitted more than the 400 signatures required to get on the ballot in the six recalls targeting Senate Republicans.

The list of candidates and the number of signatures the GAB reports they have filed is below:

2nd SD recall against Sen. Robert Cowles
- Democrat Nancy Nusbaum (De Pere): 729
- GOP protest candidate Otto Junkermann (Green Bay): 799
- Democratic placeholder candidate Mert Summers (De Pere): 560

8th SD recall against Sen. Alberta Darling
- Democrat Sandy Pasch (Whitefish Bay): 735
- GOP protest candidate Gladys Huber (Mequon): 482
- Democratic placeholder candidate Nicholas Brehm (Milwaukee): 455

10th SD recall against Sen. Shelia Harsdorf
- Democrat Shelly Moore (River falls): 800
- GOP protest candidate Isaac Weix (Menomonie) 741

14th SD recall against Sen. Luther Olsen
- Democrat Fred Clark (Baraboo): 800
- GOP protest candidate Rol Church (Wautoma): 874
- Democratic placeholder candidate Robert Forseth (Waupaca): 409

18th SD recall against Sen. Randy Hopper
- Democrat Jessica King (Oshkosh): 761
- GOP protest candidate John Buckstaff (Oshkosh): 725

32nd SD recall against Sen. Dan Kapanke
- Democrat Jennifer Shilling (La Crosse): 800
- GOP protest candidate James Smith (La Crosse): 736

See the report here.

-- By David Wise


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

 5:24 PM 

DPW to appeal GAB certification of recalls against Dem senators

The state Dem Party went to Dane County court today to challenge the GAB’s certification of recall elections against three of its state senators.

The complaint raises similar issues to the ones the party brought before the Government Accountability Board in seeking to stop the recall elections of Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch, raising a series of allegations that fraud was committed in collecting the signatures to trigger those elections. The GAB certified all three elections over the Dem objections.

The allegations raised in the complaint include:
*circulators listed false addresses for themselves on the petitions they circulated.
*because the circulators engaged in fraud by listing the false addresses, the petitions they circulated should be thrown out.
*two circulators fraudulently certified petitions that were actually done by others.

The party argues state law allows greater protections against such fraud than what the GAB considered in certifying the elections.

"The GAB agreed that out-of-state circulators hired by the Republican Party to gather recall signatures committed repeated and flagrant acts of election fraud upon the people of Wisconsin," said Dem state Chair Mike Tate. "A higher authority should review this stunning conspiracy to defraud the voters, and throw out all the signatures gathered by these deceitful circulators."

DPW spokeswoman Gillian Morris said the party will not seek an order that would delay the elections while the courts consider the request to stop them.

-- By Staff


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

 5:39 PM 

At least 15 file nomination papers in 6 recalls targeting GOP senators

UPDATED JUNE 15, 4:54 P.M.

Nomination papers are in for the six recalls against GOP senators.

So far, a GAB nomination paper tracking report lists the number of valid signatures submitted for only a few candidates, but a separate candidate registration report lists whether candidates have filed nomination papers.

In addition to six Democratic candidates, the latest GAB candidate registration report, posted just after 5 p.m., listed six candidates who have been identified as GOP protest candidates running as Democrats, three “placeholder” Democratic candidates the Dem party indicated it would run in order to ensure a primary, and one independent. The independent candidate was newly listed today, but it was unclear whether he filed nomination papers, and a Democrat listed as running in the 18th SD dropped out of the race in April.

The list is available at: http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/2011/recall/july-12/all-candidates

The list of candidates who have filed is below, including the number of signatures if the GAB had them posted as of 5 p.m.

2nd SD recall against Sen. Robert Cowles
- Democrat Nancy Nusbaum (De Pere)
- GOP protest candidate Otto Junkermann (Green Bay)
- Democratic placeholder candidate Mert Summers (De Pere)

8th SD recall against Sen. Alberta Darling
- Democrat Sandy Pasch (Whitefish Bay) 735 (Updated 6/15)
- GOP protest candidate Gladys Huber (Mequon)
- Democratic placeholder candidate Nicholas Brehm (Milwaukee)

10th SD recall against Sen. Shelia Harsdorf
- Democrat Shelly Moore (River falls)
- GOP protest candidate Isaac Weix (Menomonie)
- Independent BJ Cook (River Falls): Newly listed as a candidate today, but no nomination paper filing date listed

14th SD recall against Sen. Luther Olsen
- Democrat Fred Clark (Baraboo): GAB listed no signatures yet, but a campaign press release said he submitted the maximum allowed, which is 800.
- GOP protest candidate Rol Church (Wautoma)
- Democratic placeholder candidate Robert Forseth (Waupaca)

18th SD recall against Sen. Randy Hopper
- Democrat Jessica King (Oshkosh): 761
- GOP protest candidate John Buckstaff (Oshkosh)
- John Curry of Waupun also registered as a Democrat in the 18th SD, but he announced on his website April 18 that he was withdrawing his candidacy.

32nd SD recall against Sen. Dan Kapanke
- Democrat Jennifer Shilling (La Crosse): 800
- GOP protest candidate James Smith (La Crosse)


Saturday, June 11, 2011

 1:25 PM 

Dems say they won't run fake Republicans

Democrats won't be fielding phony Republican candidates in recall primary elections, state Dem Party Chairman Mike Tate says.

But they will run "placeholders" in Dem primaries for the recall elections against GOP senators to ensure the general elections for the recalls of six Republicans and three Dems are all held around the same time.

The recall elections for six GOP senators have been set for July 12 with primaries held that day, if needed. Those races that feature a primary would then push the general elections back to Aug. 9.

For the three targeted Dems, the elections are set for July 19 with primaries held that day, if needed. Those races that have primaries would then include general elections Aug. 16.

Republican leaders have recruited conservative candidates to run as Democrats in recall primaries. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said this week they were using the tactic to allow their incumbents more time to campaign and spread their message after a busy session in the Capitol this spring.

The Dems angrily denounced the GOP strategy, but a left-leaning coalition yesterday called on the state party to copy the Republicans and field fake GOPers against Republican candidates.

Tate issued a statement yesterday that didn't rule out the strategy. But today he said the Dems "cannot and will not stoop to the Republicans' level by encouraging candidates to lie about their party affiliation, or recommending that people try to deceive voters."

Still, Tate said the party "must guarantee these primary and general election dates move forward. The only way to do that in the face of these deplorable Republican tactics is by ensuring Democratic primaries with placeholders." Tate also said it would ensure a "much fairer process."

-- By Greg Bump


Friday, June 10, 2011

 5:36 PM 

Dem leader doesn't rule out fielding fake GOP candidates in recalls

Responding to a call from a group urging them to counter the GOP strategy of running "protest" candidates in Dem recall primaries, state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said the party is keeping its options open.

"Our goal remains the same - to hold the elections that have been called for by tens of thousands of Wisconsinites, and to be free of the blatant and unprecedented Republican exploitation of the recall process," Tate said in a press release this afternoon. "We will review the options available to ensure fair elections that allow the people to have their voice heard, and that aren't manipulated by this cynical Republican conspiracy to game the system for their partisan gain."

We Are Wisconsin, a group that identifies itself as a network of organizations religious leaders, student groups, community groups, labor union members, today called for Dems to copy the tactic.

"This opinion is not rendered lightly," the group said in a statement. "This is the most cynical manipulation of the Wisconsin electoral process in our state’s history, and is being done by a Republican party that has demonstrated no respect for the rule of law and our state’s tradition of clean elections and good governance. Unfortunately, however, after evaluating the strategic implications of their despicable tactics, to simply stand idly by would amount to unilateral disarmament and would almost certainly thwart the will of the hundreds of thousands of voters who support recalling Republican Senators in the upcoming elections."

Candidates would face a difficult challenging in gathering the necessary signatures for candidacy in the recall elections of GOP senators. The deadline is Tuesday at 5 p.m.

-- By Greg Bump


 5:10 PM 

GAB staff officially certifies recall elections for three Dem senators

Recall elections against three Democratic senators today were officially certified by Government Accountability Board staff.

The board met Wednesday and voted to certify the petitions to force recall elections for Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, Jim Holperin, D-Conover, and Bob Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie.

The recall elections for the Dems are set for July 19. If there is a primary, it will be held July 19 and the general election will be Aug. 16.

Recall elections for six Republican senators have also been certified by the GAB and set for July 12, with a general election date of Aug. 9 if there are primaries. The six Republicans facing recall are Luther Olsen, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, Dan Kapanke, Randy Hopper and Robert Cowles.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

 5:48 PM 

Dem recalls certified

The GAB has certified the recall elections of Dem Sens. Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch.

The board certified 15,540 signatures for the recall of Hansen, 19,255 for Holperin and 17,138 for Wirch.

The GAB set elections for July 19.

The board met for nearly nine hours today and struck a couple hundred signatures from the petitions, but ultimately the efforts surpassed the signature threshold to implement the recalls.

Jeremy Levinson, attorney for the Dems, said he hasn't had the chance to speak to his clients yet about the prospect of an appeal.

-- By Greg Bump


 5:22 PM 

GAB strikes more than 200 signatures from Hansen recall

On a 4-2 vote, the GAB has voted to strike signatures from petitions seeking recall of Sen. Dave Hansen and Jim Holperin that were gathered by circulator Sherri Ferrell and supported by an affidavit claiming misrepresentation.

Though some signatures are being struck, it doesn't look like enough will be thrown out to get below the threshold needed to recall the Dem senators.

Board members Tom Cane and David Deininger voted against the motion.

Board member Gordon Myse said the GAB needs to send a strong message to circulators.

"It's important that we say fraud is not acceptable conduct," he said.

But Cane was concerned about the precedent the board was setting. He said it may not be wise to establish the standard that because one signature on a page may be fraudulent, the other nine signatures on the page are also tossed out.

"That doesn't bother me one bit," said Gerald Nichols, who proposed the motion.

-- By Greg Bump


 4:42 PM 

GAB dismisses address challenges in Hansen recall

The GAB rejected a challenge of recall petitions filed against Dem Sen. Dave Hansen based upon discrepancies of address information provided by circulators.

The board continues to mull over other aspects of the challenges to the Dem recall filings and whether to ultimately certify the recall elections.

-- By Greg Bump


 4:10 PM 

GAB takes 5

The board members are taking a quick break. It appears they've finished taking testimony, and board member Gordon Myse says they will rule today.


 3:46 PM 

Levinson says fraud evidence overwhelming

Dem attorney Jeremy Levinson said if the board can't find that there is enough evidence to toss the petitions filed to recall Dem Sen. Dave Hansen, the process will be from now on be impervious to any verification.

"It is the greatest collection of evidence of election fraud the state has ever seen," he said.

Nearing seven hours into hearing testimony, Judge Tom Cane urged Levinson to wrap it up.

"Remember Polonius' advice to Hamlet, 'Brevity is the soul of wit,'" Cane said.

"I'm going to be quizzed on my knowledge of Shakespeare?" Levinson asked.

Several minutes later, Eric McLeod, attorney for the recall committees, said there's no evidence that circulators did anything wrong, and that Levinson was conflating minor discrepancies with fraud.

While there may be false names on the petitions, McLeod said there is no evidence the circulators are the ones who signed that fraudulent signature.

McLeod likened the "irregularities" found in the recent Supreme Court election recount with those in the petitions, and as in that case he said the irregularities do not invalidate the broader result.

-- By Greg Bump


 3:05 PM 

GAB back

Jeremy Levinson, the attorney for the three Dems facing recall, is back before the board.

Levinson is currently going through the circulators one-by-one and explaining why he feels their signatures should be thrown out.


 2:44 PM 

GAB taking another break

The board has taken another recess. Nearly five hours after the meeting began, they have not made a decision on any of the three recalls filed against Dem senators.

The meeting will resume at 3 p.m.


 2:16 PM 

Man interrupts GAB, says "There's the fraud"

Apparently age doesn't matter when it comes to acting up at public meetings.

The Legislature and Joint Finance Committee have seen their share of protesters, many of them young people, trying to interrupt proceedings in recent weeks.

Today, it was the GAB that got disrupted, and this time by a much older protester.

A gentleman who appeared to be in his 70s at the least had been at the meeting for a couple hours seated and listening to the proceeding.

A short while ago, the man had apparently heard all he could take, stood up and took a couple steps forward.

"There's the fraud," the man growled, pointing toward the front of the room. It wasn't clear if he was pointing at GAB staff counsel Shane Falk or the board itself.

The man turned on his heels and walked out. The board did not react to the disruption and kept going as if nothing happened.

-- By Greg Bump


 1:40 PM 

GAB staff says some recall organizers "cavalier" toward signature validity

GAB staff council Shane Falk said some of the committee organizers took a "cavalier attitude" toward ensuring the signatures on their petitions were valid. He urged the board to take the responsibility of the circulators seriously.

"They are the gatekeepers," Falk said.

Falk outlined a number of issues with signature gatherers residency, and said that out-of-state circulators such as the ones employed for the Dem recalls is they often lack fixed addresses and are difficult to reach after they finish their task and leave the state.

The board is continuing to question Falk on details of the petitions and whether to invalidate the signatures gathered by some individuals. They are still considering the petitions seeking the recall of Dem Sen. Dave Hansen, but are also hearing evidence on the other two cases they'll rule on today, Dem Sens. Bob Wirch and Jim Holperin.

-- By Greg Bump


 12:17 PM 

GAB on break

The GAB has taken a half hour break for lunch. They're expected to be back at 12:45 p.m.

The board continues to hear testimony on the petitions to recall three Dem senators. Petitions to recall Dem Sen. Dave Hansen is the first under consideration.


 12:02 PM 

Dem recall hearing continues

The Government Accountability Board continues to hear from attorneys on both sides of the attempt to recall three Dem senators.

The board showed concerned with finding a standard for a percentage of fraudulent signatures that would invalidate the entire petition, and whether that would disenfranchise some individuals who signed the petitions in an honest attempt to recall the Democrats.

Jeremy Levinson, the attorney representing the three Dems facing recall, said said there is a “pattern of deliberate fraud” in the recall petitions, offering examples of false addresses given by petition circulators, incorrect addresses listed for signers, and affidavits from individuals who said they were misled by circulators about what the petition was for.

As one example, Levinson pointed to a petition signed for the recall of Wirch listing the address and name of the deceased father of state Rep. Mark Pocan, Bill Pocan. Levinson suggested that the inclusion of the name implies the petitioners “sat down with the White Pages and randomly picked names.”

The board questioned McLeod about the Pocan signature. McLeod said there was no evidence offered by Levinson as to who signed the petition using his name. But board member Gerald Nichol questioned why McLeod hadn’t sought the answer himself from his client.

“Well you people turned it in. And you don’t take responsibility for that?” Nichol asked.

McLeod said while he agreed that the Pocan signature should be stricken from the petition, it does not equate to evidence of widespread malfeasance. He said Levinson’s case is based on rhetoric, not “credible, direct evidence.”

Panel members questioned McLeod about how circulators were paid by Kennedy Enterprises, the Colorado Springs-based firm contracted to collect the signatures needed to recall the Dem senators.

McLeod said there is no evidence that the circulators were paid per signature, as Levinson claimed. But Gordon Myse, a retired judge like the other members of the GAB, said Kennedy Enterprises had established a per signature payment method in other petition efforts, and there’s no reason to believe they would alter the practice for the Wisconsin job.

McLeod said the payment issue is irrelevant, but Nichol disagreed.

-- By Greg Bump


 9:04 AM 

GAB taking up Dem recalls

The Government Accountability Board has begun its hearing on whether to certify the recall petitions against three Dem state senators.

The GAB staff didn't taking a position on whether the recall petitions should proceed. Still, it notes there are enough valid signatures to trigger a recall against each, unless the board wants to toss thousands of signatures out over Dem allegations of fraud.

The staff prepared a memo on each recall petition as well as one on the overall fraud allegations raised by Dems Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch.

The Dems argue out-of-state circulators committed fraud in failing to properly list their addresses on the recall petitions, tricked people into signing and other improprieties. Republicans objected to the call to wipe out thousands of signatures.

In the memo on the fraud allegations, the staff says the board can invalidate multiple signatures on the recall elections filed against three Dem senators if it finds circulators committed fraud in collecting recall petitions.

But, staff notes, “the controlling Wisconsin authority does not prescribe clear factors or thresholds for evaluating when fraud in the recall process sufficiently impugns the integrity of the recall process, thus thwarting the will of the electors.”

The memo also lays out the legal issues associated with the Dems’ claims.

For each Dem, the staff found there were enough valid signatures after its review to meet the threshold for a recall election, but it also noted those signature totals were still subject to the review of the fraud allegations.

For Hansen, the staff found 15,636 valid signatures; 13,852 are needed. With Holperin, it was 19,446 valid signatures with 13,852 needed, while with Wirch it was 17,139 signatures with 13,537 needed.

Dan Hunt, who led the drive to recall Dem Sen. Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie, said in a press conference this morning prior to the GAB meeting that the release of the staff materials last night after 8 p.m. did not afford enough time to prepare for the hearing. He called the process flawed from the beginning.

"There is blatant political bias for one side against the other and that is absolutely wrong for a partisan body," Hunt said.

-- By Greg Bump


Friday, June 3, 2011

 5:56 PM 

Dem Party to assist with Walker recall

Cross-posted to the Den Convention Blog
Dem Party Chair Mike Tate this evening will throw the party's support behind the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker next year.

Tate stressed to WisPolitics.com the effort will not be driven by the party, instead it will aid United Wisconsin, which has already been prepping to gather the more than half a million signatures needed to trigger a recall election.

Tate said he would prefer the effort to begin in late spring, which would pave the way for the recall election to be on the November ballot along with the presidential and U.S. Senate races. But he said that would not be a party decision.

"I know what day the most people will have a chance to weigh in and that's the November election," Tate said.

United Wisconsin Michael Brown said the groups that join the efforts will eventually make the call on when it begins. Organizers could start collecting signatures in November and turn them into the GAB just after the one year anniversary of Walker taking office in January.

Brown said collecting signatures in November and December could be difficullt with the weather and the holidays. But ultimately the decision will be based on when organizers believe it has the best chance to succeed.

"We just want to win," said Brown, whose group has a booth at the Dem convention and already has pledges from almost 190,000 people who want Walker recalled.

Brown stressed the organization is non-partisan and will work with anyone interested in helping, though he acknowledged the Dem Party's support is significant.

"The resources the Democrats bring to us are obviously going to be monumental," he said.

-- By JR Ross

 4:56 PM 

Judge grants GAB extra time to review Dem recalls; no delay for GOP elections

A Dane County judge has granted the Government Accountability Board's request for additional time to finish its review of the recall petitions filed against Dems Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch.

The GAB now has until June 10 -- next Friday -- to certify those elections and has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday to review the petitions.

Judge John Markson denied a request from Republicans to delay the recall elections of Republican senators that have already been certified until the Dem reviews are completed.

Markson also specified that today's original deadline for the GAB to certify those recalls remains in effect, setting up recall elections for six GOP senators for July 12.

If approved and certified next week, the three Dem recalls would take place July 19.

Markson said the GAB had shown good cause to extend the deadline, noting the unprecedented level of recall activity along with the passage of voter ID legislation and completing a statewide Supreme Court recount.

Markson also said he found no rule requiring the board to review the recall petitions in the order they were filed, as attorney for the GOP senators Michael Screnock argued.

Assistant AG Lewis Beilin, representing the GAB, said the board's staff tried to concurrently process all the recall petitions in time for its meeting last week, but was faced with "a mountain of material" in the recalls affecting Democratic candidates. He said the GAB did not take a position on the GOP's request for a delay in all the recall certifications.

Screnock said the challenges of Dem recall petitions did not meet the threshold to toss out the petitions and alleged that the challenges were brought to cause "confusion and delay" in the certification process.

But Markson rejected that argument, saying, "That simply has not been established here."

Dem attorney Jeremy Levinson said the challenges by Dem and GOP recall targets present are "of just a profoundly different nature," and said his clients approved of the GAB's request. But he asked that the GOP recalls ready for certification be allowed to move forward today.

"The rule of the day is, let's these done as quickly and as accurately as possible," Levinson said.

Screnock also said GAB members themselves were concerned about the "public perception" of holding the Republican recalls on one day and the Dem recalls on another.

But Markson said he would not make any type of policy decision about when elections should be held.

"I hope that the public perceives that I am applying the rule of law," Markson said, adding, "My job is not to make any person or political party pleased."

-- By Andy Szal


 11:55 AM 

Dem attorney: Recalls of GOP sens. should go forward

The state Democratic Party believes a GOP request to postpone all recall certification efforts until the Government Accountability Board completes its review of recalls against three Dem senators constitutes "manipulation of the system."

The GAB and attorneys for both parties in the recalls are due in court this afternoon for a hearing to discuss extending the deadline for the GAB to complete its review of those three remaining recall efforts.

Attorney Jeremy Levinson, who represents Dem Sens. Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch along with the recall efforts against six GOP senators, told reporters in a conference call today that attorneys for recalled GOP senators "want this judge to basically wrestle control from the GAB on timing issues and delay the six recall elections of Republican senators."

"There is no practical basis for delaying those recall elections of the Republican senators, and they should go forward forthwith just as the statute mandates," Levinson said.

Attorneys for the GAB argue the Dem recall certifications are more complex than the petitions against six GOP senators that have already been approved by the board. The GAB also argues its staff has been overwhelmed with work and did not consider partisan affiliation in working on the petitions.

Levinson said while Dems aren't thrilled with the additional time, "the realities make another week delay on those three necessary."

But Eric McLeod, attorney for the Republican senators and the recall committees challenging Dems, said in his filing that the court should order the GAB to delay certification of all recall elections, arguing that the GOP lawmakers hoped to hold all recall elections on the same day.

-- By Andy Szal


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

 10:34 AM 

GAB formally asks judge for more time to consider recall petitions against Dems

The challenges Sens. Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch have filed to the recall petitions against them are more complex and extensive than those the GAB has considered in the recalls of GOP lawmakers, the agency said Thursday in asking a judge for more time to consider the efforts targeting the Dem lawmakers.

The state Department of Justice argues in a brief that the Government Accountability Board did not take into account politics in deciding to finish the recall petitions against GOP senators first. Rather, it was the most efficient way to finish the reviews because the issues raised by all six Republicans in challenging the petitions against them were similar.

Complicating matters, the GAB staff has been dealing with a statewide recount and preparing an analysis of the new voter ID law that have strained its limited resources, the brief states.

Judge John Markson had originally set a Friday deadline for the GAB to certify all of the recall elections. But today’s brief asks for a one-week extension to June 10 to finish the work on the recall petitions filed against the three Dems.

See the brief:

Three of the targeted GOP lawmakers -- Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke and Luther Olsen -- have filed petitions in Dane County Court challenging the recall petitions approved last week by the GAB. The complaints raise similar legal issues that the GAB rejected in deciding to certify the elections against them. That includes the argument that the efforts were not properly registered with the agency.

Attorney Eric McLeod, who represented the GOP lawmakers before the GAB, said he will participate in Friday’s 1:30 p.m. hearing on the GAB’s request for more time.

-- By JR Ross


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