Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

There is no way the GAB will get away with this


Talk about wasting the taxpayers’ money. When the Republican Party’s lawyers, or the Wisconsin State Journal, or whomever decides to sue first, drags the GAB into court, these public records will open up like a box of Twinkies on a fat farm.

State election officials put off making recall petitions available publicly on Monday after hearing privacy concerns from people who signed them.

The state Government Accountability Board provided copies of the petitions against Gov. Scott Walker to Walker’s campaign on Friday and had said that it planned to post copies of them on its website on Monday. But agency spokesman Reid Magney said the board was holding off on posting them online after hearing concerns about a stalking victim and others who did not want their names released.

Recall organizers say more than 1 million people signed petitions to recall Walker, nearly double the 540,208 valid signatures. The board has until March 19 to determine if enough signatures were filed to force a recall election.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators also face potential recalls. Copies of the petitionsagainst the senators were posted on the board’s website in January – just as they were last year for six Republicans and three Democrats in the Senate who faced recall.

The accountability board is still electronically scanning copies of the Kleefisch petitions and plans to give them to her campaign later this week.

In the past, the accountability board has treated recall petitions as public records, just as it has the routine nomination petitions that candidates must submit to get on the ballot. Making both types of petitions available has allowed the general public to verify that enough proper signatures were gathered.

 So after ignoring the warnings that these are open records, people are regretting signing the recall petitions and are asking the GAB not to make them public. Perhaps they are afraid of embarrassing revelations like the editor and reporter of a local newspaper signing recall petitions for a state senator.

This is the latest development in a series of back and forth decisions by the GAB that promises more legal challenges ahead.

And it could thwart a massive effort by Tea Party groups to conduct an independent review of the petitions.

“Never before have regular citizens organized in this way to this scale in a nonpartisan sense to uphold the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections,” said Ross Brown,  Founder and President of the Tea Party Group, We the People of the Republic and co-organizer of the Verify The Recall effort. “Our volunteers are anxious to start and committed to the effort.”

Brown said approximately 87 percent of the more than 11,000 volunteers who signed up at his website are from Wisconsin, although they do have volunteers from all but one of the 50 states.

“Verify the Recall has written a new play in the citizens’ playbook as to how we can preserve our clean and honest elections,” Brown said.

With Monday night’s revelation that the GAB was refusing to comply with their earlier public pronouncements, the Verify the Recall process could be in jeopardy.

It is just absolutely outrageous that the GAB would even think of pulling something like this. This type of partisan political ploy should end any illusion that the board is being run impartially. The creation of the GAB has only insulated the decision-makers from accountability. The legislature should take steps to fix this Frankenstein monster they created.
Update! The MacIver Institute is filing the open records request tomorrow to open up this sardine can.
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