Lawsuits Come Fast and Furious|as Wisconsin Recall Elections Near

MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – Three Democratic state senators facing recall asked the state to stop the elections, alleging “substantial fraud, forgery or related misconduct” in recall petitions against them. And groups on both sides of the issue have filed lawsuits demanding records on Wisconsin’s anti-union law.




     State Senators Jim Holperin (Eagle River), Robert Wirch (Pleasant Prairie) and Dave Hansen (Green Bay) sued the Government Accountability Board, claiming the Board found numerous instances of fraud in the recall petitions against them, but struck only a few hundred signatures.
     The Democrats claim that “the Wisconsin Republican Party hired a Colorado petition-circulation business to manufacture the illusion of home-spun, local recall efforts against the Democratic Senators.”
     They say several people working for the GOP as petition circulators – and paid on a per-signature basis – are known to use “fraud and forgery” to gather signatures, but the Board excluded signatures only where “fraud could be specifically proven.”
     About 230 signatures were excluded, leaving 21,000 “implicated signatures” in the final tally and rendering the remedy “effectively meaningless,” the senators say.
     An additional 2,373 signatures were struck for reasons other than circulator misconduct.
     The senators add that at least seven of the paid circulators “repeatedly certified fraudulent residences” and that at least two paid circulators “fraudulently certified petitions circulated by others.”
     Since the Board – again – didn’t impose a sufficient remedy, another 9,100 signatures slipped through on fraudulent certifications, according to the complaint in Dane County Court, whose seat is the state capital.
     The Democrats say they base their claims of “systemic fraud” on a “data analysis firm, a professional investigator, a nationally respected telephone survey firm, a team of attorneys … and over 1,000 well-organized volunteers to test the validity of the recall petitions and ensure the integrity of the signature-gathering process.” They ask the court to exclude all “tainted signatures and petition pages,” which, they say, would leave an insufficient number of signatures for the July 19 recall elections.
     Six Republican senators, who face recalls on July 12, have also filed legal challenges to their elections.
     In a second lawsuit, Fighting Bob Inc. filed complaint for mandamus against Gov. Scott Walker, seeking all records of Walker’s trip to Florida in April. In an April interview with Walker, Newsmax.com reported that the governor’s trip was “part of a national tour to drum up national support for his dramatic fight against public unions who are seeking recall elections of Walker allies in the Wisconsin legislature.”
     He stopped by the conservative Newsmax offices “to drum up support for a new effort, FrontlineWisconsin.com, that seeks to defend eight Wisconsin GOP senators from a massive recall campaign that is now under way,” according to Newsmax’s April 10 report.
     Fighting Bob seeks all “dates, all means of travel, destinations, addressed visited, purpose(s) of the travel, meetings attended, persons at those meetings, cost of the travel, source of the funding to pay for the travel, and all correspondence relating to the travel and the purposes of the travel” of Walker’s Florida trip.
     According to its website, Fighting Bob “aim(s) to honor and revive the spirit and mission of our namesake, Robert ‘Fighting Bob’ La Follette, the populist governor, U.S. senator, and presidential candidate from Wisconsin who founded the Progressive Party and spent his career battling the corrupting, impoverishing and anti-democratic influence of big moneyed interests over government and public policy.”
     Fighting Bob’s lead attorney is Peter McKeever with Garvey McNeil & Associates.
     And in the Republican corner, the Education Action Group Foundation and Paul Bucher, an attorney, filed an open records request, also in Dane County Court. They demand all “records related to three Dane County lawsuits that commenced as a result of Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. The plaintiffs are requesting all correspondence and communication, including letters, memoranda, e-mails, reports, cell records, voicemails and text messages.”
     The defendant in this complaint is Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Budget Repair Bill.
     The three lawsuits for which Bucher demands documents are a complaint of open meetings violations, which was recently rejected by the state supreme court; a complaint by Dane County challenging the constitutionality of the Budget Repair Bill, which is set to be dismissed this week; and a complaint filed by two labor unions, which was dismissed last week.
     Bucher says he asked for the records on April 7. According to Kyle Olson, founder and CEO of Education Action Group Foundation, “We have filed this request because a district attorney’s involvement in such a case is highly unusual. We’re hoping to receive records which shed more light on precisely why Mr. Ozanne decided to try to stop the law from being implemented.”
     They also seek $50,000 in punitive damages.

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