The Republican Party of Wisconsin Monday filed a complaint with the state Government Accountability Board, asking the agency to investigate possible collusion between Democrat state Rep. Sandy Pasch's campaign and a special-interest group.
Pasch, who is facing Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling in the Aug. 9 recall election, sits on the board of the directors of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a group actively involved in the recall race.
The group has filed papers with the state saying that it plans spend money to support Pasch in the recall, but as of Monday it hasn't reported doing so.
"(No reports) have been reported yet," said Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan group that monitors campaign spending. "But that doesn’t mean they haven’t spent some money. It just hasn’t been reported yet."
There is nothing illegal about Pasch being on the board of directors or the group spending money on her behalf. However, Citizen Action cannot coordinate its efforts with the candidate.
"At this point, we don’t know if they’ve spent any money, and if they do, we would need to see some evidence of actual coordination," Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, said Friday. "Just because she is on the board doesn’t mean there’s been coordination. At this point, it's really too early to draw any conclusions because we don’t know if they’ve spent any money."
Magney said Monday the GAB has received the complaint from the state party but declined to comment on the details in the complaint.
When the GAB receives a complaint, it first assesses whether there is a reasonable basis to investigate. If the board believes there is a sufficient basis to proceed, it may authorize an investigation.
However, Stephan Thompson, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said there are signs that Pasch and the group may be working together.
“In recent weeks, Citizen Action has taken an unusual interest in attacking Alberta Darling, with nearly identical messaging as the Pasch campaign,” he said in a statement. “We feel that it is only prudent to ensure that these circumstances are uncanny coincidences, not the result of illegal activity on the part of the Pasch campaign.”
Robert Kraig, executive director at Citizen Action, said allegations of collusion are unfounded.
"It’s entirely untrue. If it were true, it’d be illegal," Kraig told Patch. "Then someone could present evidence to the GAB and we’d be in jeopardy. We’ve been involved in elections for many years and we know you can't coordinate with candidates and we don’t do it."
Gillian Morris, a spokeswoman for Pasch's campaign, also said there is no coordination between the candidate and the group.
"Sandy has been a member of their board for years, but she has had absolutely no involvement in any campaign strategy or plans, or anything like that," Morris said.
"This is a laughtable attempt to attack her because they're running scared and they're seeing the writing on the wall that Sandy is in a strong position to win that seat," she added.
But the Darling campaign described the allegation as a "very serious matter" and urged the state to investigate.
“As we have seen throughout the campaign from Sandy Pasch, she has little regard for right and wrong," said Darling campaign manager Andrew Davis in a statement. "Sandy is willing to blatantly and repeatedly lie about Medicare cuts. She’s received a ‘Pants on Fire’ from the Journal Sentinel’s Politifact for saying Alberta wants to end health care for seniors. Now we uncover the fact that there is possibly illegal coordination occurring.
"It’s going to be rather difficult for Sandy Pasch to plead ignorance when she sits on the board of directors for Citizen Action Wisconsin, and her campaign treasurer is also managing the finances for that same third-party group," he added.