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Democratic Party challenges recall petitions against 3 senators

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Lisa Wolfe
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« on: May 06, 2011, 11:05:53 am »

Democratic Party challenges recall petitions against 3 senators
StoryDiscussionImage (3)Font Size:Default font sizeLarger font sizeDemocratic Party challenges recall petitions against 3 senators
DEE J. HALL | | 608-252-6132 | (116) Comments | Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 7:00 am

Volunteers seeking to recall Democratic Sens. Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie and Jim Holperin of Conover deliver signatures April 21 to the state Government Accountability Board. Helping carry the petitions are Alec Durant, left, and Bobby Talbot. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin charged Thursday that recall petitions filed against Wirch, Holperin and Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, contain hundreds of forged and fraudulently obtained signatures.
 JOHN HART — State Journal .
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Circulators hired by the state Republican Party have submitted hundreds if not thousands of invalid signatures in recall drives targeting three Democratic state senators in a “widespread and systemic pattern of election fraud,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, charged at a press conference Thursday.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin officials filed a challenge Thursday afternoon with the Government Accountability Board seeking to invalidate the recall efforts against Senators Dave Hansen of Green Bay, Jim Holperin of Conover and Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie. The Democratic Party contacted hundreds of voters and collected nearly 200 sworn statements from people who said they never signed the petitions or were misled about the intent of the petition drives.

Some were told they were signing to recall GOP Gov. Scott Walker, Miller said, although those petitions cannot legally be circulated until November. Others thought they were supporting education or local park improvements or signing to recall a Republican senator, he said.

“The overwhelming evidence clearly shows a pervasive pattern of election fraud committed by the shady out-of-state organization hired by Republicans to collect recall petitions,” Miller said. “Thousands of Wisconsin citizens fell victim to lies and misinformation spread by the circulators, and the papers submitted by this operation contain a river of omissions and wrong information.”

In a statement, Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Mark Jefferson called the challenge “an expensive waste of time, couched in hyperbole and hot air.”

“After harassing thousands of Wisconsin citizens in an attempt to intimidate them into removing their signatures, it appears Democrats found only a few hundred signatures to directly challenge, out of 60,000 submitted,” Jefferson said. “Even in the unlikely event their challenges of individuals’ signatures will be upheld, they fall far short of what is needed to prevent recall elections. The three Democrats will stand for election this summer.”

In all, 16 recall efforts were sparked by Walker’s controversial anti-collective bargaining bill, currently tied up in a court battle. Eight Republicans were targeted for voting for the bill, while eight Democrats were targeted for leaving Wisconsin in February to avoid voting on the measure. Only senators who have served at least one year in office are subject to recall.

The bill, which strips most collective bargaining rights from most public employees in Wisconsin, prompted weeks of demonstrations drawing tens of thousands of protesters to the Capitol.

Miller said Thursday that entire pages of signatures should be thrown out because circulators from as far away as Florida, Colorado and New York claimed to live at invalid addresses.

Republicans paid Kennedy Enterprises of Colorado Springs, Colo., $92,000 to circulate petitions. Calls to the company were answered by a message saying the number was temporarily disconnected. An email to company president Dan Kennedy wasn’t returned.

The Democrats’ attorney, Jeremy Levinson, said many names on the petitions to recall Hansen, Holperin and Wirch appeared to have been copied from the phone book, including the late William Pocan, the father of state Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, who died 20 years ago. Levinson called the recall efforts against the three a “sham.”

“There were hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of forged signatures and fraudulently obtained signatures,” he said. “They (circulators) were motivated to do one thing: Fill pages as fast as they could.”
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