Monday, January 9, 2012

Other Politicians Can Abide By The Law, Why Can't Walker? -- UPDATED

I pointed out a while ago that Scott Walker was showing his absolute corruption by feeling that he should have the right to have taxpayer dollars be spent on doing his campaign work.  Walker wants the Government Accountability Board, a nonpartisan group formed to enforce election laws, to violate state laws by going through the recall petitions instead of having his campaign do that, as is required by law.

Indeed, at the time, I consulted with Michael Maistelman, one of the state's leading election law attorneys.  Maistelman has recently been awarded the honor of being one Wisconsin's Leaders in the Law, so he obviously knows what he's talking about.  When I consulted with him on this matter, he told me this:

I called Attorney Michael Maistelman, one of the state's leading election attorneys, to confirm my suspicion that this was another bogus complaint.  Attorney Maistelman confirmed that it has always been the responsibility of the candidate and his or her campaign to challenge the signatures of their opponent, whether it is for a recall or even just for nomination papers to get on the ballot.  He also told me that he has bumped a number of Republicans off of ballots by having invalid signatures stricken leaving his client's opponent with not enough to get on the ballot.  He said that the Republicans have done that to a number of Democrats as well. 
Maistelman also confirmed that it was always the campaign that paid for that legal work to be done. He added that Scott Walker's campaign would have much more funding than what would be needed to review and challenge the signatures of the recall.  
Despite this, Walker went running to Waukesha County Judge Mac Davis, a dyed in the wool Republican, who subsequently chose to ignore the law and not only deny the recall petitioners their right to be heard in court, but then ruled that the GAB must violate state law.

Funny thing is, just this weekend, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported about some local races here in Milwaukee.  The gist of the report is that some candidates got bounced off the petition for not having enough valid signatures (emphasis mine:

Sue Edman, the commission's executive director, said nominating petitions submitted by 1st District candidate Virgie Wynn, 4th District candidate William Crowley and 6th District candidate Duffy Holloway were disqualified because they didn't have enough signatures with valid addresses within their respective districts, while 7th District candidate Roosevelt Sanders was disqualified for not filling out his papers properly. Holloway also had been disqualified from the 6th District ballot in 2008.
The disqualified candidates can appeal those decisions to the three-member commission. That panel could meet Tuesday to rule on any appeals and on challenges to candidates' papers. 
Ald. Willie Wade is challenging 7th District candidate Jason Hargis' papers and Ald. Bob Donovan is challenging 8th District candidate Chez Ordonez's papers. Ald. Bob Bauman also filed a challenge to Crowley's papers in case Crowley successfully appeals the disqualification ruling, said Mike Maistelman, attorney for Bauman and Wade.
Mayoral candidate Ieshuh Griffin tried to file two separate challenges to nomination papers filed by rival Edward McDonald, a University of Wisconsin Extension faculty member, but both were rejected because they were filed incorrectly, Edman said. Had Griffin succeeded in disqualifying McDonald, she would have eliminated the mayoral primary and faced Mayor Tom Barrett alone.
Similarly, Wynn tried to challenge Ald. Ashanti Hamilton's papers, but her complaint also was rejected because it was filed incorrectly, Edman said.
So, the aldermen and the candidates either hired an attorney to challenge their opponents forms or they did so themselves.  And these candidates don't pull in anywhere the amount of money raised by Walker over the last two months as he has spent as much time traveling the state to kiss up to special interest groups for their big money donations.

I'm just wondering where all the conservatives that are worried about government waste, government ethics and election integrity have gone too.  Not one of them is standing up for any of those issues in this matter.

That speaks as loudly for them as Walker's corruption of the legal system does.

ADDENDUM:  My friend Jay Bullock has already touched on this subject as well, citing actual law in doing so.

This is supported and enhanced by Ed Fallone at the Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog in which he writes:

One merely has to read the statute as a whole. For example, Section 9.10(2)(g) states “[t]he burden of proof for any challenge rests with the individual bringing the challenge.” The grounds for a challenge are listed in Section 9.10(2). Under the statute, a challenge may be brought and the signature removed if the challenger establishes by affidavit or other evidence that the signature is duplicative (Section 9.10(2)(i)) or that the signature is of an ineligible individual (Section 9.10(2)(l)). Under Section 9.10(2)(q), challenges may be brought for grounds other than those specifically listed. That would include challenges based on the assertion that the name on the petition is fictitious or unrecognizable. 
In other words, at the prompting of the Friends of Scott Walker, Judge Davis has interpreted the words “careful examination” in Section 9.10(3)(b) so that they require the GAB to affirmatively seek out duplicative, fictitious and unrecognizable signatures when the language of Section 9.10(2) clearly places the burden of removing signatures that fall into these categories on the challenging party and not on the GAB.

In the comments section of the same blog, Mr. Fallone further points out that the reason Scott Walker is allowed to raise unlimited funds is for the singular purpose of going through and challenging the petitions.

I would simply add that if Scott Walker foolishly spent all of the money he raised on easily refuted commercials instead of challenging the petitions, that is not GAB's fault, nor is it the fault of the taxpayers, and neither are obliged to pay for the myopic way Walker chooses to run his campaign.


  1. Thanks Capper. Walker and the Koch brothers love to "socialize" their risks and losses onto the taxpayers. Then they get Charlie Sykes to use the 50,000 watt blow torch, WTMJ radio, transmitting over TAXPAYER supported airwaves, to claim they support "free" markets.

  2. WTMJ is taxpayer supported?

  3. The airwaves that they use are public airwaves. Their license is paid for at by the tax payers.

  4. 7:15, evidently missed when the FCC sued Janet Jackson. A lot of taxpayers didn't like subsidizing her "wardrobe malfunction," at halftime of a Superbowl.

  5. A lot didn't and I bet a lot did. But, yes, I did miss that, simply because I don't know who pays for the airwaves or that they needed licenses, I never thought about it and that is why I asked the question.

  6. Since Judge Davis issued his ruling last week, I have been trying to find a copy to read.

    I called Judge Davis' clerk's office today to find out how I could get a copy of the ruling. She told me that Judge Davis issued his ruling orally, and had no plans to have it transcribed into any written form (beyond normal court transcription). That is, there are no plans to make it readily available to the general public.

    I pointed out to her that when Judge Sumi issued her ruling in the Open Meetings case, she also issued it orally, but had it transcribed and posted, as the case was one of great public interest; and I asked if Judge Davis might consider doing likewise as this is a similar matter of public interest. She said she did not expect Judge Davis to do that, but I could request in writing that he do so. I asked if doing so 'in writing' meant also being able to do so via the internet; she said no, the only non-paper way they are equipped to to receive such a request is via fax.

    In other words, a polite but flat 'no'; if you are interested in hearing why it is Judge Davis ruled the way he did, you are essentially out-of-luck.

    (So here's one reason why having such matters of such state-wide interest be handled by Dane County Courts - they're used to handling the higher level of interest, and are equipped to do so.)

  7. When the law was passed giving recall targets the opportunity to raise funds without limit in response -- surely there was legislative discussion on this very point, that the reason was to let them pay for the challenges? Could not this be cited against Judge Davis's very wrong reasoning?

    Second reason for appeal: his refusal to let the recall-petitioners (against whose petitions this changed rule will be applied) bring any such evidence or argument in support of the GAB into his court.

  8. Here's a sample records request form from WI FoIA Council:

    The proceeding in question is Circuit Court Case No. 2011CV004195 and Judge Davis' fax number is 262-896-8364.

    If you create a word document or pdf containing your request, you can upload and send for free using faxZERO: