• WisPolitics

Thursday, December 15, 2011

 4:40 PM 

Walker reports raising $5.1 million

In the first campaign finance report since the beginning of the effort to recall him, Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign says he collected contributions from 46,976 individual donors, with 37,356 of them giving $50 or less.

Walker’s campaign released the cover sheet from his fundraising report, showing he raised $5.1 million, spent almost $4 million and had $3 million in the bank.

Walker raised almost $11.1 million for the entire 2010 election cycle.

The release does not include the full report, which is due by the end of the day and will give the first look at how he has raised money since the effort to recall him began. Under state law, Walker can raise money in unlimited contributions while the recall papers are circulated against him.

“We have seen an outpouring of support for the governor and the steps he has taken during his first year in office to lay the foundation for a more successful Wisconsin,” Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said. “Wisconsin voters are readily contributing to our campaign to help us fight back against the baseless recall efforts lead by big-government union bosses. Governor Walker is proud that more than 37,000 donors contributing $50 or less will allow him to travel the state of Wisconsin to listen to business owners and taxpayers share their stories of how his reforms have put state government back on their side.”

State Dem Chair Mike Tate said he was not fazed by Walker’s fundraising report.

“We have always know that Scott Walker was going to have all the money in the world at his disposal because he’s done so many favors for all these different corporate benefactors and insiders and people of favor,” Tate said. “We’re not worried about being outspent in this race. We expect it to happen, and I believe the voice of the people will outweigh the milions of dollars Scott Walker will raise in this campaign.”

-- By Staff


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

 5:55 PM 

Kennedy stresses GAB’s role as referee

Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy told an audience at a Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon today that the current political season is supported by the letter ‘R.’

“Its been a long time since I’ve had kids watching Sesame Street, but I can tell you that this political season is brought to you by the letter ‘R’,“ Kennedy said. “That would be ‘R’ for recall, recount, redistricting, requirements for voter identification, reducing the hours for absentee voting, and writing your name on the polls.”

He could have added referee, for his own agency’s role in the process. Kennedy talked about how the board seeks to gain credibility through transparency and making people aware of its decisions.

“When you’re caught in the middle, when your job is to be the referee, you’re not going to win a lot of fans except through your performance over a period of time.”

Kennedy credited the state’s non-partisan model with giving the board credibility compared to other states where elections are handled by partisan election officials.

“Without that non-partisan tradition, what credibility would I have?” he said.

Kennedy’s appearance came amid complaints from conservatives over the agency's plans for handling fictitious signatures on recall petitions. Kennedy said the GAB's job is to flag things on recall petitions that don’t appear to be true. But, he added, "we’re not going behind the signatures.”

“Our agency is supposed to do a facial examination with the presumption of what you see in front of you is true, so we flag things that don’t look true,” Kennedy said

He also stressed the role recall circulators play in removing duplicate or fictitious names.

“If they’re doing their job -- and I will grant you that not everyone is as diligent as you would expect -- they’re signing a statement saying, 'I personally obtained these and I know who signed this signature,'" Kennedy said. "So they’re probably going to take care of, first of all, a lot of the fictitious names.”

“If we get a petition that has seven Disney characters on it, or the Dallas Cowboys, or famous quarterbacks in the NFL,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to be focusing on the circulator and how they have lied and violated the law."

But Kennedy also acknowledged that some will always try to cheat and said that things such as the new voter ID law can increase public confidence in the system.

“We’re seeing that its not really happening,” Kennedy said. “But if the public thinks it can happen, then I think that’s a good basis for addressing it.”

Kennedy said he didn’t think lawsuits over the voter ID law would be resolved by the primaries in February for spring elections, adding that it would take the courts to put the measure on hold.

He also said that with potential recall elections, two rounds of spring elections, and another primary in August, his agency will be able to prepare for having the law in place for the higher turnout in the November presidential election.

Kennedy also told the audience that the GAB’s role is to help people “cut through some of the bureaucracy.” He said he has a two-sided flow chart on how to get a driver's license.

“I think our challenge is, really, how do we get to that last group of people, to ensure that they have that opportunity?” Kennedy said.

He recalled an instance where he was observing at a polling station and a man came up to him asking for help sorting through documents the man had so that he could vote.

“What he did is, everything that connected him to society was in a sock, and he dumped it out in front of him and said, ‘Is there any thing here that I can use?’”

Kennedy called it "a very powerful experience" that he said would surprise many people.

“They don’t recognize that there are many people in society that are going to need that extra help.”

-- By Arthur Thomas, for WisPolitics.com


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

 5:03 PM 

GAB approves recall procedures

The Government Accountability Board today voted to accept recommended security procedures for reviewing recall petitions that will likely be submitted early next year.

The board expects to go to court once the petitions are officially filed, saying it'll likely need 60 days instead of the currently allowed 31 days to review some 1.5 million signatures. The signatures likely will result from recall efforts against the guv, lt. guv and and up to four GOP state senators.

Signatures would be reviewed at an alternate location with the help of up to 50 temporary staff members. Access both in and out of the location would be limited, petitions would be accounted for with a chain of custody log, and permanent GAB staff would be present during verification, according to today's presentation by elections specialist David Buerger.

Buerger said GAB staff will also discuss the need for security outside the facility and the possibility of video surveillance or webcasting of the review process.

Board members expressed concern about the possibility of "concealed zealots" applying to serve as temporary recall reviewers. But Buerger said the workers wouldn't include anyone who signed a recall petition and that he believes staff could identify potential problem applicants through the interview process.

Buerger added that the board would take note of unusual signatures found during the recall review process, but wouldn't strike them from petitions unless they are otherwise found to be insufficient.

GAB staff said that could include names such as "Mickey Mouse" and "Adolf Hitler" found during the 2011 recall process if the signatures include a valid Wisconsin address. Buerger said state law places the burden on the challenging party to object to those signatures.

Buerger noted that a Hitler signature was struck earlier this year because the residence given -- "Berlin, Germany" -- was outside the appropriate state Senate district.

Conservatives are complaining the GAB procedures tilt against Gov. Scott Walker, because there won't be much time to find bad signatures. In the meantime, some conservative groups are pledging to hunt for invalid signatures.

Walker's campaign and the state GOP this morning announced a joint effort to verify signatures.

-- By Andy Szal


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

 10:38 AM 

Two groups hail decision not to charge them

The two groups who will not be charged for their activities in this summer's recall elections hailed today's announcement.

Janet Veum, a spokeswoman for Wisconsin Jobs Now, said she had not seen the decision but her group stands by its summer efforts to bring out the vote.

“We were encouraging people to participate in democracy,” said Veum. “We were celebrating our right to vote and we will continue to do that.”

Barbara Lyons, executive director for Wisconsin Right to Life, said she expected her organization to be vindicated because it had done nothing wrong.

“Our concern going forward is future unfounded complaints against Wisconsin Right to Life or other citizen groups. If the prosecutor had decided in favor of the complainants, ordinary campaigning, such as paying a television station to run ads, would have been outlawed,” Lyons said. “Wisconsin Right to Life is relieved that complainants’ extreme interpretation of the law has been rejected.”

-- By Marie Rohde
For WisPolitics.com


 9:08 AM 

No charges to be filed in Milwaukee recall election investigations

No charges will be brought against two groups that were accused of election law violations in the run-up to the August recall election of Sen. Alberta Darling, according to a statement released this morning.

“It is unclear, at best, whether an offer to pay persons to gathers absentee ballot applications on a quota basis comes within the scope of the Election Bribery statute,” wrote Asst. Dist. Atty. Bruce Landgraf, the lead prosecutor on the case for Milwaukee County. “The statute as currently written does not give much guidance to those who wish to follow the dictates of the law, especially in the area of absentee voting.”

Wisconsin Right to Life gave campaign workers $25 gift cards for every 15 voters sympathetic to the anti-abortion cause that were enlisted for absentee voting.

Wisconsin Jobs Now, a community and labor group, held five block parties on the northwest side of Milwaukee. They provided food, prizes and a lift to Milwaukee City Hall where voters could cast absentee ballots.

In a 14-page letter to Milwaukee County Judge Kevin Martens, Landgraf said he was influenced by the fact that both groups were acting in good faith to maximize voter participation.

“Put another way, there was no evidence that these groups were acting in bad faith or with motives suggesting any form of corruption,” he wrote.

-- By Marie Rohde
For WisPolitics.com


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