Tag Archives: recall

Wisconsin right-wing voter fraud more widespread than thought

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.

 

Green Bay Senate candidate denies smoking crack

David VanderLeest, the Republican running against state Sen. Dave Hansen in tomorrow’s Wisconsin recall election, denies reports that he smokes crack cocaine, Talking Points Memo reports. VanderLeest has been dogged with questions about his personal finances and domestic violence charges.

“I read a social services report yesterday that says I smoke crack,” VanderLeest recently told Wisconsin Public Radio host Joy Cardin. “None of it’s true. I don’t smoke rocks, and that’s the truth.”

Crack cocaine is frequently referred to as “rock” by users. VanderLeest said the allegation that he smoked crack comes from a report filed by a social worker in relation to a domestic violence charge filed against him.

VanderLeest has been arrested at least four times, including for child abuse and beating up his ex-wife. He has pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct.

VanderLeest said the debate over his police record and shady past is being used by Democrats to distract voters from the party’s stances on such issues as abortion, gun rights and documentation for immigrants.

VanderLeest did acknowledge that he was “drunk and under the influence, and I flipped out” at the time of a domestic abuse incident. He’s refused to discuss whether he’s paid taxes or received financial assistance from the state.

“You know, I sleep well at night, and that’s the reality of the situation,” he said.

The GOP’s preferred candidate to run against Hansen was state Rep. John Nygren, who failed to submit the 400 valid petition signatures required to get him on the ballot. Republicans gathered 18,000 signatures to trigger the recall election

Republican recall candidate denies that he “smokes rocks’

David VanderLeest, the Republican running against state Sen. Dave Hansen in a July 19 Wisconsin recall election, denies reports that he smokes crack cocaine, Talking Points Memo reports. VanderLeest (pictured here with Gov. Scott Walker) has been dogged with questions about his personal finances and domestic violence charges.

“I read a social services report yesterday that says I smoke crack,” VanderLeest recently told Wisconsin Public Radio host Joy Cardin. “None of it’s true. I don’t smoke rocks, and that’s the truth.”

Crack cocaine is frequently referred to as “rock” by users. VanderLeest said the allegation that he smoked crack comes from a report filed by a social worker in relation to a domestic violence charge filed against him. VanderLeest has been arrested at least four times, including for child abuse and beating up his ex-wife. He has pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct.

VanderLeest said the debate over his police record and shady past is being used by Democrats to distract voters from the party’s stances on such issues as abortion, gun rights and documentation for immigrants.

VanderLeest did acknowledge that he was “drunk and under the influence, and I flipped out” at the time of a domestic abuse incident. He’s refused to discuss whether he’s paid taxes or received financial assistance from the state.

“You know, I sleep well at night, and that’s the reality of the situation,” he said.

The GOP’s preferred candidate to run against Hansen was state Rep. John Nygren, who failed to submit the 400 valid petition signatures required to get him on the ballot. Republicans gathered 18,000 signatures to trigger the recall election.

Republican recall candidates whine about taxes but pay little to nothing

One of the most frequent complaints we hear from Republicans is that their tax burdens are too high. It’s a GOP talking point that turns up in nearly every election, regardless of the actual data or the historical record. So it is certainly no surprise to hear many of the Republicans running in recall elections this summer complaining about their tax burden.

But it might surprise voters in Wisconsin to know that some of the candidates whining about taxes actually pay little to nothing in net income tax to the state.

Perhaps the most outrageous Republican recall candidate is current state Sen. Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac. He’s already in hot water with voters for running as a “family values” candidate and then leaving his wife to move in with his then 25-year-old aide in 2010. (Hopper and his mistress Valerie Cass are pictured).

But Hopper’s hypocrisy doesn’t end at the marriage altar. In 2008 his hometown newspaper, the Fond du Lac Reporter, highlighted that the wealthy senator had only paid Wisconsin personal and business taxes once since 1997. The one time that he did pay, it was a capital gains tax resulting from the sale of one of his radio stations.

State Sens. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, and Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, will also face recall elections this summer. Like Hopper, they rant against the high tax burden that they allegedly face. Both senators’ Statement of Economic Interest forms demonstrate a vast array of investments and personal business interests. Yet various media outlets have reported that both senators have had recent years when they owed no net income tax to the state.  For Kapanke it happened in 2008, and for Robert Cowles it was in both 2008 and in 2009. 

This phenomenon also extends to some of the Republicans’ first-time candidates this summer. Kim Simac, who is mounting a challenge to Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover, is the founder of a Tea Party group that makes railing against taxes its highest priority.  A Dun & Bradstreet profile estimates that Simac’s family business, the Great Northern Adventure Company, earns approximately $300,000 in annual sales.  Yet Wisconsin Department of Revenue records show that Simac paid zero net income tax to the state in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008. Records show that in 2000 she paid a total of $4 in net state income taxes. In 2007, her tax bill was a single dollar.

Any complaint that Simac has about being overtaxed shouldn’t garner much sympathy.

Jonathan Steitz is a corporate attorney working for a firm in Chicago.  If he wins his primary this month, he will go on to face Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, in August. Like Simac, Steitz is a first-time candidate. But that’s not the only similarity they share. Records show that Jonathan Steitz owed no state net tax in either 2008 or in 2009.  But that doesn’t stop him from repeatedly bemoaning the allegedly high tax burden that he claims to have faced in Wisconsin.  

The point here is not to suggest that any of these Republican candidates did anything illegal. But voters deserve an explanation as to how most working people pay more in a single paycheck than some of these whining Republicans have paid over the course of several years. These candidates must be called on their hypocrisy. 

David Koch’s group begins campaign for Wisconsin GOP senators

A political group that promotes the corporate interests of billionaire David Koch has begun phone bank operations on behalf of Republican state senators targeted for recall in Wisconsin.

Huffington Post reported that 10 volunteers were making phone calls to Wisconsin yesterday on behalf of Koch’s group Americans for Prosperity. The phone bank was part of the weekend’s RightOnline conference in Minneapolis.

Koch, who gave Scott Walker’s (pictured) gubernatorial campaign $43,000 in direct contributions and funneled much more to Walker and other Wisconsin GOP candidates in 2010 through various groups, expects to receive millions of dollars worth of no-bid Wisconsin government contracts for his Koch Industries. Koch Industries is also in line to gain ownership of vital resources currently held by the state.

A key component of Koch’s strategy is incapacitating state agencies so they will be unable to provide services that Koch industries can then come in and perform at a profit. The elimination of collective bargaining rights for government unions in Wisconsin was part of Koch’s strategy to achieve this aim.

But if Democrats retake control of the state Senate through this summer’s recall elections, it could interrupt Koch’s agenda. That’s why Americans for Prosperity is gearing up to spend millions of dollars defending GOP senators in the state through phone banks, campaign ads and any other tactic that Koch’s money can buy.

Huffington Post reported that the recall elections in Wisconsin were a central issue at both RightOnline, held at the Minneapolis Hilton, and Netroots, its progressive counterpart held at the city’s convention center.

Republicans in Wisconsin recently announced they are putting up phony Democratic candidates in the recall elections in July to force a costly fake primary race. That will delay the actual recall election for about a moth. The result is that Wisconsin politics are likely to remain in the national spotlight for most of the summer.

The fake elections staged by Republicans will cost local governments in Wisconsin, which have already been decimated by Walker’s budget, an estimated $400,000.

scott_walker

Hopper, Olsen to face recalls

Oshkosh Common Councilor Jessica King will seek to replace state Sen. Randy Hopper, R–Fond du Lac, in a recall election that has yet to be scheduled.

King lost to Hopper by fewer than 200 votes in 2008.

In early April, volunteers submitted more than 22,500 signatures to the Government Accountability Board to recall Hopper over his support for Gov. Scott Walker’s elimination of government employees’ collective bargaining rights.

The marital problems of Hopper, a so-called “pro-family” conservative, could be a factor in the race. When pro-union protesters surrounded his Fond du Lac home in February, Hopper’s wife emerged to tell them he’d moved in with his much-younger mistress in Madison and no longer lived there. She also told reporters that she and her maid are supporting her husband’s recall.

A complaint filed against Hopper for living outside his district is currently under investigation by the Wisconsin Justice Department.

Volunteers working to recall Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, also filed recall petitions in April. Signatures to recall Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, were submitted last month.

Attempts are still underway to recall five additional Republican senators as well as eight Democrats who are being targeted for delaying a vote on the collective bargaining measure by hiding out in Illinois. So far no petitions have been filed against the Democrats.

– L.W.

Seize the moment for recall

A radical brand of Republicans seized control of our state government in January, and they’ve already inflicted a lot of damage on the state. But they’ve also inspired a growing movement of regular citizens who are fighting to take back Wisconsin from their extremist, one-party rule.

In addition to bringing protesters to Madison in record numbers, grassroots activists have organized impressive campaigns to recall all eight Republican state senators who are eligible for recall under state law. The activists working to recall Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, have already filed petitions with the Government Accountability Board. They not only filed their papers in less than half the time allotted by law, but they turned in 40 percent more signatures than required.

None of the Republicans facing possible recalls are friends to the LGBT community. All of them voted against the historic domestic partnership registry that was enacted in 2009. Most of them have received scores from advocacy groups that demonstrate their opposition to equality. For example, according to VoteSmart.org, Alberta Darling received a 0 percent from Fair Wisconsin in 2004 and received the same grade from the ACLU in 2006. Another example is Sen. Glenn Grothman, who is so extreme that he received a score of 100 percent from the anti-gay group Wisconsin Family Action.

Every one of the eight Republican senators has also contributed to the attack on unions. This is an important consideration for the LGBT community, because the labor movement has been a major supporter of equality in Wisconsin. Organized labor was among the first constituencies to join the fight against the 2006 constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Unions have worked for domestic partnership benefits for their LGBT members, and they supported the state’s domestic partnership registry in 2009.

Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican senators facing recall seek to destroy organized labor in Wisconsin. If they succeed, the LGBT community will be weaker.

Last November, progressive voters throughout the state were greatly disheartened by the election results. But because of the radical Republican over-reach that we have witnessed in recent months, Wisconsin has been given another chance. If three or more of the eight senate Republicans are successfully recalled, we will be able to slow down Walker’s radical agenda.

It is a very wise investment of our time to get engaged in this effort right now. You can learn more by visiting recalltherepublican8.com and volunteering to help.

Very seldom do we get another chance like the one we are presented with today. The extreme actions of Walker and his rubber stamp Legislature have given us a rare opportunity. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and we must seize it.

Darling recall volunteer punched by assailant who fled the scene

Police are searching for a man who punched a petitioner working to recall state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, according to Whitefish Bay Patch.

The Germantown Police Department said that David Kopplin, of Beloit, was approached by a man on March 19 as he collected signatures to recall Darling in front of Riversbend Golf Course, just outside Menomonee Falls.

The man yelled at Kopplin, followed him and punched him in the stomach, according to a police report. He then drove away in a silver pickup truck parked at a nearby Speedway.

Although surveillance video from the Speedway allowed police to identify the vehicle, the alleged assailant has not been apprehended. Police say they are still looking for witnesses.

The suspect is white, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, with short hair and facial hair. He was wearing a green jacket and a baseball cap at the time of the incident. His small silver pick-up truck had a cap over the truck’s bed.