Wisconsin Democrats Laugh Off "Republican Recall Racket"

Wisconsin Democrats Laugh Off "Republican Recall Racket"

Wisconsin Democrats Laugh Off "Republican Recall Racket"

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 21 2011 12:50 PM

Wisconsin Democrats Laugh Off "Republican Recall Racket"

Today, a bit less than a week before the deadline, recall petitions are being filed against three Wisconsin Democratic senators. State Democratic party spokesman Graeme Zielinski has given me the party's response to the petitions, which can be summed up as "ha, ha."

Let's call it what it is: The Republican effort to recall Democratic senators who stood up to Scott Walker is RACKET, run from afar, fraudulently pursued, deliberately hidden and dangerously unethical. We therefore doubt the integrity of the signatures filed and the methods used to collect the signatures. The practices underlying the Republican recall racket are rotten at their core and taint the entire process. We have been collecting actionable evidence to support our claims, some of which we will release, and which all will be released by our legal team to the Government Accountability Board.

At the end of the day, the sloppy, disorganized, dispirited and fraudulent efforts of the Republican recall racket and its corporate sponsors means a very high likelihood that the challenges will fail. Ultimately, however, the senators they seek to challenge stood up to Scott Walker instead of endorsing his anti-Wisconsin agenda and will prevail in any recall election. 

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Here's how the Democrats back this up.

Without any real enthusiasm on the part of the citizens of the districts to support the anti-Wisconsin Walker agenda, the Republican recall racket was forced to rely on road agents from a Colorado firm and elsewhere, mercenaries from out-of-state who came in and were paid money per recall signature. The only real press that this practice got was the reporting on a Colorado canvasser with a dangerous felony record who was was preying on visitors to Lambeau Field and taking stolen items to a motel room paid for by Republicans. But that dangerous Colorado felon employed by the Republican Party was just the tip of the iceberg.  At the heart of the Republican effort from the start was a mercenary spirit that naturally used deception and fraud to gain signatures.

In the coming days, you will see affidavits from citizens in these targeted districts who were deceived into signing petitions by Republican road agents who often refused to identify themselves with their real names. One example is circulators who would ask citizens who supported Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen, asking whether they'd like to see him on the ballot. They were deceived.

The Republican recall racket used unethical practices to gain signatures. In Burlington, for instance, a Republican canvasser offered patrons of a tavern shots of liquor in exchange for recall signatures against Sen. Bob Wirch. And in Green Bay, Republicans left recall signatures unattended with a sign that said, "Out to lunch," an unethical and forbidden practice.

While the efforts to recall the Republican senators followed campaign finance laws to the "t," the Republican recall racket refused to abide by Wisconsin's campaign finance laws and kept their activities covert and their campaign finances hidden. Even after the Government Accountability Board granted extensions to the various Republican recall groups, they refused to submit their campaign finance reports. This leaves only two possibilities: Either this was done as a deliberate strategy to deceive the authorities and the citizens of Wisconsin. Or it is a measure of the disorganization and lack of enthusiasm for the Republican recall efforts. In either case, the failure calls into question the entire Republican recall racket. If citizens who wish to understand and even challenge the methods and practices of the racket, they must have available a complete picture of the operation. That is the basis for Wisconsin campaign finance law-to transparently show corporate influence. That Republicans have chosen to flaunt the law and conceal their activities calls into question their entire effort.  

The Republican recall racket shows once and for all that Scott Walker has lost all momentum. To have to rely on fraud, deception and unethical behavior shows that the Walker machine has lost moral authority and enthusiasm. Our recall effort has lapped the Walker machine not merely because our side has had more enthusiasm, has worked harder and is better organized, but because we possess the moral authority of an energized population who want to see a fair and free Wisconsin that creates opportunities for everyone, not to see power concentrated in the hands of the likes of the Koch Brothers. And that, more than anything, is why the Republican recall racket has failed.

Democrats have 10 days to contest petitions once the state accepts them. If absolutely everything submitted as of today is accepted, there would be five recall attempts against Republicans and three against Democrats. Every recall that gets aborted frees up that much more money and volunteer time to work on the other team's recall.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.