From the diaries by Neil
Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board has been a poster child for dysfunction for a while now and even still this supposedly non-partisan agency never ceases to amaze with its inexplicable behavior. In December, a GAB representative said that Mickey Mouse or Adolph Hitler could sign a recall petition and it would pass their initial review. A judge literally had to order the Board to actually look for fraud instead of putting a rubber stamp on recall petitions. What the GAB is doing now is beyond the realm of sanity and all Wisconsin voters should be outraged.
Now the ACLU seems to be pulling the strings. The ACLU of Wisconsin recently raised privacy concerns of posting Governor Walker recall petitions on the GAB’s website. Initially, the Board committed to posting the Walker recall petitions online this past Monday. They have since changed their tune and have decided to kowtow to the ACLU despite the fact that they have an established practice of posting petitions online as they did for State Senate recall petitions last summer and again for the four Senators under recall threat right now.
This change is a major snub to every Wisconsin voter, who already has reason to doubt the competence of the Board and the credibility of the entire system. It is also a slap at Tea Party and other grassroots groups across the state that are involved in protecting the system against fraud with Verify the Recall efforts. The Walker Campaign has now received all of the recall petitions, but the public is left without them. Verify the Recall had planned to begin their Walker recall review process on Monday so that they can adequately review the alleged 1 million signatures within the 30 day window for challenging fraud which is widely believed to effect tens of thousands of signatures. But Verify the Recall’s 11,000 volunteers are left waiting while the clock is ticking.
In response to the GAB’s delay, both the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the MacIver Institute filed open records requests asking for copies of the recall petitions under Wisconsin’s open records law. Even liberal Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, said that the petitions should be public. The state’s largest newspaper, a conservative group, and a liberal leader all agree that these recall petitions should be public. Now, that should tell you something.
Back in November, Media Trackers warned about privacy concerns. Yet it was not until the middle of January that the ACLU decided to play politics with the GAB and bring their privacy concerns forward. Here we are now at the end of January that the GAB makes a last minute decision to do what the ACLU wants. (Ironically, Politifact ruled Media Tracker’s report as “Mostly False” even though the ACLU’s concerns vindicate Media Trackers’ warning).
With the amount of suspected fraud in the recall process piling up after initial reviews of the State Senate recall signatures, it is critical that there is transparency in the recall process. Wisconsinites need to be able to trust that there truly are enough recall signatures before having recall election forced on them that could cost taxpayers $20 million.
The GAB has a long way to go to regain the public’s confidence in their abilities and the system they manage which directly impacts the future of this state. They need to ensure accountability. If they can’t or won’t, the people of Wisconsin should have the chance to protect the electoral process and hold the GAB accountable.
Matt Batzel is the Executive Director for Wisconsin of American Majority, the nation’s leading national conservative grassroots training organization. To learn more about American Majority visit www.AmericanMajority.org.