MADISON (WKOW) -- The state government accountability board approved recall elections for Republican state senators Sheila Harsdorf, Robert Cowles and Alberta Darling, but a decision to ask a court for more time to process recall efforts against three Democrats was branded as biased.
Spokesperson Dan Hunt for the recall effort against Sen. Robert Wirch (D-Kenosha) said GAB staff should complete recall work by the court-ordered date of June 3 and said delay is unacceptable and unfair. Hunt said staff analysis of the material submitted in support of recalling Sen. Darling (R-River Hills) was completed, even though materials in support of the recall of the democratic senators was turned in before Darling's materials.
"Rather than reflect the actions of a government agency, which is even handed in its dealings, it shows an inherent bias."
Hunt and spokesperson Dave Vander Leest for the recall effort against Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) called on GAB executive director Kevin Kennedy to resign.
"It's always kill the ref," Kennedy said, and rejected the calls for his resignation.
Kennedy said staff work on the recall effort against Darling went forward because some of the submitted material was similar to already-analyzed recall petitions submitted against Republican Senators Dan Kapanke, Randy Hopper and Luther Olsen. Last week, board members approved scheduling those recall elections for July 12.
"There's no question from the board's standpoint that staff approached this in an even handed, fair and unbiased manner," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said GAB staffers worked round-the-clock at times to speed the evaluation of recall petitions and did as much analysis as possible, in trying to meet the June 3 deadline.
Attorney for Harsdorf, Cowles and Darling Eric McLeod said board members should consider whether more than 2,000 faulty petition signatures against Darling indicated more widespread problems with petition circulators. McLeod cited one case where a circulator had sworn a page of petition signatures was collected from people living in Darling's senate district and eligible to sign, even though one person signed the name Adolf Hitler.
An attorney representing targeted Democrats has claimed widespread fraud committed by petition signatures should invalidate scores of signers against Hansen, Wirch and Sen. Jim Holperin. Attorney Jeremy Levinson cited cases where petition signers on tribal lands in Wisconsin were told their signatures would help the cause of native Americans. Vander Leest said no petition signer was duped.
In approving the recall elections against Harsdorf, Cowles and Darling, board members set the same election date of July 12.
Kennedy said a judge would be asked this week to extend the deadline for completing recall submission evaluations.
State officials said if a court allows additional time, it could lead to recall elections against the Democrats, if approved by board members, to take place July 19.