State officials certify recalls against Democrats - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

State officials certify recalls against Democrats


MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board certified recall elections against three Democratic state senators.

The elections for Senators Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch will be held July 19.

During a day long hearing,  and attorney for the senators argued thousands of recall signatures should be disallowed because petition circulators from out-of-state committed widespread fraud by duping people about the reason for their signature.

But attorneys for recall organizers said the claims of fraud lacked sufficient evidence,  and state law does not allow for wholesale invalidation of recall petition signatures beyond specific instances where signatures are found lacking.

Board members did disallow hundreds of signatures tied to petition circulation by a Colorado woman, who was the subject of dozens of complaints of misleading petition-signers.

The three democrats join six republican state senators in facing recall.   The election date for the republicans is July 12.

It appears all the election dates will be for primaries,  with the general recall election dates in August.


MADISON (WKOW) -- An attorney for Democratic state senators Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch said proposed recall elections against the lawmakers should not take place because of widespread fraud in the collection of petition signatures.

Attorney Jeremy Levinson told members of the state government accountability board one petition circulator from Colorado duped or misled more than thirty percent of the hundreds of people she convinced to sign recall petitions.

Levinson suggested a Colorado-based firm paid petition circulators a fee per signature, and circulators gave into the temptation to pad their pay checks by even using names in the telephone book to fill in petitions. Levinson cited the example of Rep. Marc Pocan's father,  William Pocan, whose name appears in the phone book, yet his signature appears on a petition to recall Wirch, even though he's been dead for some time.

Attorney for Eric McLeod, representing recall organizers, said the claims of fraud were suspect,  and a telephone survey used to document fraud in signature-gathering flawed. Several examples were cited where the survey documented a petition-signer having been allegedly duped by a household member, or even misled by themselves.

McLeod also said the law only allows individual signatures to be thrown out if petition circulators fail to follow requirements.

Board member Gerald Nichol pressed McLeod to explain whether Colorado-based Kennedy Enterprises paid petition circulators by the signature, but McLeod said he did not know. The company has used that payment method elsewhere.

Board members will decide this afternoon whether recall elections will go forward against the three Democrats. They have already certified recall elections for six Republicans. All the proposed recalls relate to actions taken by senators in connection to Governor Walker's proposed limits on public employee collective bargaining.

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