- Views & Opinions
A fraudulent absentee ballot campaign involving the anti-gay group Wisconsin Family Action appears to be far more widespread than originally thought.
Initial reports had indicated that phony ballots were sent only to Senate Districts 2 and 10, but new evidence links them to all eight districts holding recall elections in August.
Printed and paid for by Americans for Prosperity, a front group for the billionaire Koch brothers, the ballots instruct recipients to vote no later than Aug. 11, even though the election is Aug. 9.
WFA was one of the right-wing groups whose return address was printed on the ballots. WFA director Julaine Appling, the state’s leading anti-gay activist, at first acknowledged and later denied involvement in the scheme when confronted by a concerned citizen in a taped phone call.
The never-married Appling lives with a lifelong female companion in a home the two own together in Watertown.
Calling the mailers a voter suppression scheme, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a formal complaint on Aug. 2 with the Government Accountability Board, before the new evidence emerged. That evidence came from AFP itself, which sent out mailers in all eight districts acknowledging the fraudulent dates on the original mailers. In the mailers, the group calls the mistake a “printer error.”
The second mailers also attempt to position AFP as a victim of a “left wing” smear campaign. The mailer asks recipients to fight back against “the Left” by helping to get out Republican voters.
Although the second mailers contend that the initial ballots only went to AFP-Wisconsin members, they were sent to voters with a solid Democratic history at the polls, which is how the fraud was uncovered.
With Republicans in jeopardy of losing their grip over state government on Aug. 9, the Koch brothers have shoveled unprecedented amounts of cash into Wisconsin’s recall races. Koch Industries stands to receive many millions of dollars in no-bid contracts from the state if the GOP maintains its solid control.
The greatest beneficiary of the Kochs’ largesse has been state Sen. Alberta Darling, one of the brothers’ most dependable allies in Wisconsin government. With an infusion of limitless cash from various Koch brothers groups, Darling’s race against challenger Sandy Pasch in the 8th Senate District has far surpassed the previous record of $3 million in a Wisconsin state Senate race – a record that was set in one of Darling’s previous races.