Thursday, April 21, 2011

WI Dems to challenge GOP recall 'racket'

We've known for quite some time that corporate front groups will break the law to put their pet issues (like destroying the middle class) on the ballot. A group dedicated to weeding out ballot fraud, The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, reports they're hearing more and more complaints about abuses in signature gathering.

Wisconsin Republicans are no exception. The GOP claims they have enough signatures to recall three of the Fab 14 Democrats who fled the state to prevent anti-worker legislation being passed. Democrats aren't so sure the signatures are legitimate. Talking Points Memo reports that today,
...state Dem chair Mike Tate and attorney Jeremy Levinson predicted that they would able to successfully challenge the validity of much of the signature-gathering effort by Republicans -- which Tate repeatedly called a "racket."
"At the heart of the Republican effort from the start was a mercenary spirit that naturally used deception and fraud to gain signatures," charged Tate. "In the coming days, you will see affidavits from citizens in these targeted districts who were deceived into signing petitions by the Republican roadies who often refused to identify themselves by their real names."

In particular, Tate said that the Republicans brought in paid signature gatherers from out of state, who were paid on a per-signature basis...
That would be illegal in Wisconsin.

The Democrats said they have examples of signature-gatherers lying about the petitions they were circulating. Some people were asked to sign "support Dave Hansen" petitions, when they were actually being asked to sign "recall Dave Hansen" petitions.

Democrats also said they used in-state volunteers to circulate petitions. (We know our Teamster brothers in Wisconsin were busy gathering signatures.)

BISC describes how the signature-gathering racket works:
1. First the firms will move into a state and hire subcontractors (over whom the firms maintain little or no oversight) to run the signature gathering process.
2. Then these subcontractors hire nomadic signature gatherers who migrate from one state to another, chasing whichever petitions promise the greatest payday.
3. The mercenaries flood a state, at best ignorant of the state's laws governing signature collection, or at worst, actively choosing to ignore those laws.
4. These migrant signature gatherers routinely use false names or addresses and are almost impossible to track once they leave the state.
firedoglake reminds us that Republicans challenged signatures gathered by Democrats to recall Dan Hanky-Kapanke:
Republicans have already filed a complaint in the recall of Dan Kapanke, to which Democrats submitted a rebuttal here. There’s a pretty streamlined process for these charges and counter-charges through the Government Accountability Board, which was largely appointed by the previous Democratic Governor, Jim Doyle. So hopefully they will properly wade through all this.
Hopefully indeed.