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Despite Some Issues with Petitions, Recalls Likely to Move Forward

Some fraud allegations were true, some were false, and some complaints will likely yield to an investigation. But there aren't enough to stop the recall from moving forward, state election official says.

The head of the agency that oversees elections in Wisconsin says there have been some instances of fraudulent signatures found on the petitions seeking to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker from office.

And with at least three outside groups going through the signatures looking for problems, Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said his staff expects to hear even more allegations about possible fraud.

While the GAB and other agencies will investigate all such complaints, it's unlikely there will be enough of them to stop the recall from moving forward, Kennedy said in a memo released Friday.

"The highly polarized political atmosphere which has engendered the current recall initiatives has also generated a constant buzz of speculation about illegal activity with respect to the recall efforts," Kennedy wrote.

"This speculation has ranged from allegations of people signing a petition with a name other than their own, including fictitious characters, with made up addresses; claims of multiple signings by the same individual and threats of destruction of petition pages by opponents of the recall effort,"he added. "Both proponents and opponents of the recalls have spewed accusations through social media, email, voice mail, talk radio and the media."

The GAB has taken such allegations seriously, he noted, and is working with the state Department of Justice and district attorneys around Wisconsin to investigate such complaints.

However, "given the the large number of signatures over the required thresholds, it is not plausible to believe these complaints would have an impact on the ultimate sufficiency of the recall petitions," Kennedy said.

The effort to recall Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators began on Nov. 15. More than 1 million gubernatorial recall signatures were turned into the GAB, which has spent the last two months verifying them. Recall organizers needed to collect about 540,000 valid signatures to force an election.

Kennedy's memo was part of a packet of documents released Friday by the GAB in advance of the board's meeting in Madison on Monday. In the documents, Kennedy and the GAB staff said there are enough valid signatures to move forward with the of Racine.

Kennedy also is recommending that the GAB on Monday ask a Dane County judge for more time to review the Walker recall petitions and proposed that recall elections be held in May and June.

In Kenney's memo, GAB officials reported that they investigated a claim made by an unidentified Milwaukee man who said he had signed the petition 80 times. The man’s name was referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, but the GAB never found that name on the petitions.

On the other hand, of Racine was charged earlier this month with two felony counts of election fraud/nomination certification and seven felony counts of misappropriating identifying information for financial gain. If convicted on all charges, Demet faces up to 42 years in prison and fines up to $90,000. Kennedy reported that those signatures were thrown out.

A Caledonia man who is a Walker supporter also told Patch that he had and planned to burn them, but then he changed his mind. No law enforcement agency has requested the man's name.

Kennedy noted that recall organizers and the Republican Party of Wisconsin have set up websites and hotlines for people to register complaints about the recall process. Verify the Recall, a website that encouraged people to register their complaints, stated they intended to the help the GAB by offering an online searchable database of the signatures.

Kennedy said it was likely the GAB would get complaints from these sources and the agency intends to take those complaints seriously even though there may not be enough to stop the recall elections.

He said that the focus of an investigation should include whether the complaints represent “a pattern of activity or isolated events.” However, the specifics of those potential investigations will be discussed in closed session by the GAB.

James R Hoffa March 13, 2012 at 04:00 AM
@Lyle - Good evening! I'm doing pretty well, although I'd much rather be where I was the previous weekend, if you catch my drift ;-) No, not very much has changed, has it. We're expecting anywhere between 100-200 people at the mall event. The event was never intended to be that large scale, but rather an opportunity to get the dedicated Walker activists together before we started going full steam into the recall campaign effort. We expect some protestors, as you've probably been able to tell via Keith Schmitz and company's reactions to our event on the Patch boards. It's nice to see you having a nice conversation with Wendell - I've been passively following along. We should really try and get together sometime in persona, as I'd love to meet you. Have a great night!
Dark Star March 13, 2012 at 08:05 AM
Hi Steve. Just logging on, reading the paper or turning on the TV probably gives most Americans more talking points than they want on this matter. I think people keep watching though. Just like it's hard to avert your eyes from a train wreck. It's painful, you can't believe it, you want to stop it, but it keeps coming so you watch it. You can't help yourself. It's like Watergate, John Edward's saga or the 2012 Republican Primaries. Too awful for words.
Dark Star March 13, 2012 at 09:13 AM
Hi Wendell and Lyle. I'm impressed by the civil and substantive discussion you guys are having on socialism. I would even say the US is already socialist in several areas such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Nearly everyone was fine with them until it was pointed out they are actually socialist programs. Perhaps people have forgotten that before Social Security, old age was a sentence of poverty for most people. Before Medicare, the US life expectancy was much shorter. Before Medicaid, the really poor had all sorts of endemic and contagious diseases that caused all sorts of problems. Wendell and Lyle are right that the US has unwisely spent way too much. Especially by borrowing to finance several counterproductive military adventures and increasing numbers of military bases around the world. A few Trillion dollars would have solved the solvency problems of Social Security and Medicare. Thanks, oh wise and great leaders!! Lyle is right that the US tax burden is lower than it has been in over a generation. Especially for the very wealthy whose effective tax rates have really gone down, causing the US deficit to explode, poverty to rise, income disparity to widen and our infrastructure to decline. That being said, there is validity to Wendell's criticisms of Democrat tendencies to overspend on nannystate programs, new classes of victims and occasionally, poorly planned entitlements that hinder self-reliance and/or self initiative in favor of handouts.
Dark Star March 13, 2012 at 09:42 AM
Lyle's example of the Scandinavian countries as examples of Democratic Socialism actually producing the happiest people, longer lives, better health and more stable societies is true. That being said, I suspect much of Europe would be spending more on their militaries if they weren't being protected by US dominated NATO or the US nuclear umbrella. Nevertheless, they are good models which by and large have peaceful and reasonable people and governments. Even France and Brittain with their socialized medicine have an average life span about two years longer than Americans. Considering what the US spends on healthcare per capita, we are definitely not getting what we pay for. In fact I think we are getting ripped off in what is called a free market system, except that it isn't. It's rigged. Though I am not a huge fan of "Obamacare", it may turn out to be better than the status quo which is the real train wreck bearing down upon us. What kills me is that the whole issue of the premium mandate that most Republican states are challenging in court as an unconstitutional government takeover of healthcare, isn't that at all. It was a Republican idea that emerged as a response to the Hillary-Care proposal of the early 1990's. It came from the Heritage Foundation and was based on personal responsibility, self reliance and paying your way. They loved it until Obama adopted it and now it is portrayed as a Socialist Death Panel menace that will kill Americans. Jeez!
Dark Star March 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM
Yeah Wendell, I also agree that too many Dems would be willing to carbon tax our economy to death without demanding reciprocation from economies like India and China that bring on a new Coal fired plant every week. We could stop emitting all carbon in the US, and without China, India, Brazil, Korea etc, there'd be very little difference except that we would be more uncompetitive and soon be broke. That's not to say that we shouldn't reduce air pollution and persuade others to do it too. It's worth Googling John McCain's take on air pollution and Climate Change during the 2008 campaign. It's on the web from various campaign speeches and is pretty reasonable. Lyle, your Denmark example is right on. I drove up to a fisheries conference in Wash DC last week and ended up talking for two hours to a Danish guy named Paul at a New Zealand Seafood reception. Most of what you said about Danes could apply to him too. We had a lively, wideranging and substantive discussion comparing American, Danish and international politics and issues. He seemed happy to talk to an American who actually knew a little about Danish politics, culture and other European issues. He was with an international fishery group. When I asked him for critiques or observations of various American political and other issues, he had some keen answers. One that sticks with me was his characterization of how and why some American's had not absorbed certain lessons learned in The Enlightenment.

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