Recount debacle in 17th State Senate District Democratic primary: 110 votes thrown away in Green County
With 70% of the vote recounted in the 17th State Senate District Democratic primary, Ernie Wittwer, a former state transportation budget official and a vocal critic of the state party establishment, is exactly tied with Pat Bomhack, a former Jim Doyle aide who had the backing of most of the state party establishment.
However, Jud Loundsbury at Uppity Wisconsin is reporting that, for reasons unknown, 110 primary ballots were thrown away in Green County, which Wittwer won with 687 votes to Bomhack’s 458 votes, a margin of 229 votes. Michael Doyle, the Green County Clerk, said that he will likely certify the recounted results without the 110 missing votes, which could throw the Democratic nomination, which Wittwer initially won by seven votes prior to the recount, to Bomhack or result in an actual tie between Wittwer and Bomhack.
Should Wittwer win the primary post-recount, Bomhack’s supporters and some in the state party establishment will almost certainly accuse Wittwer and his supporters of stealing the primary election, although, given that Green County went fairly heavily for Wittwer in the pre-recount results, and the missing votes were in Green County, that claim would be bogus.
Should there be an actual tie post-recount, I’m not sure how Wisconsin state law would determine who the Democratic nominee is.
Should Bomhack win the primary post-recount, Wittwer and his supporters will almost certainly accuse Bomhack and his supporters of stealing the primary election. Because of this, I am calling for the Green County District Attorney’s office to open a criminal investigation in order to determine if any laws were broken by the individual(s) who threw away the 110 primary ballots.
Regardless of the outcome of the recount, expect lawsuits over the missing ballots.
There’s two hypothetical reasons that I can think of off of the top of my head as to why the individual(s), whose identity/identities remain unknown at this time, threw away 110 ballots:
- The individual(s) who threw away the ballots did so out of pure negligence.
- The individual(s) who threw away the ballots did so as part of an attempt to steal the Democratic primary for one of the two Democratic primary candidates, probably Pat Bomhack.
Regardless of the reason why the individual(s) threw away 110 ballots that won’t be officially counted, the fact that 110 people who voted in the Democratic primary in the 17th State Senate District of Wisconsin won’t have their voices officially heard is absolutely disgusting.
The Wisconsin progressive blog Blue Cheddar uploaded this picture of the first page of Sunday’s B section of the Wisconsin State Journal in which Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ridiculously claimed that he violated no laws in soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from Gogebic Taconite (GTac), a company that pushed Walker and Republican state legislators to loosen environmental protection laws to make it easier for them to pollute Lake Superior and the Bad River watershed by building an open-pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills in the northern part of Wisconsin, to Club for Growth Wisconsin (CfG Wisconsin), the Wisconsin chapter of a national 501(c)4 organization that runs paid ads in support of Republican candidates for public office, which is a violation of Wisconsin campaign laws prohibiting any form of coordination between a candidate for public office and an outside front group.
You can view the entire Blue Cheddar piece on Walker illegally soliciting funds for CfG Wisconsin here, and you can view the Wisconsin State Journal’s article on Walker illegally soliciting funds for CfG Wisconsin here.
Here’s what Walker said:
“Everything we’ve done is completely legitimate,” Walker told reporters Saturday in Madison. “The only thing I can clearly point out to you is that a federal court and a state court have both said without hesitation that they dismiss the argument that was put out in this report.”
That claim by Walker is absolutely absurd on many levels. First off, courts have not dismissed the argument that Walker is running a criminal scheme by soliciting funds for CfG Wisconsin, although I do know of one federal court that initially struck down the investigation because a far-right judge, Rudolph Randa, the same far-right judge who wrongfully convicted Georgia Thompson as part of a GOP plot to frame then-Democratic Governor Jim Doyle several years ago before that conviction was overturned on appeal, ruled that corruption is a form of free speech. Randa’s absurd ruling is currently being appealed.
Additionally, regarding a point that the author of the Blue Cheddar blog made, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s campaign, as well as Democratic operatives in Wisconsin, don’t want to talk about this issue at all for some unknown reason. It appears to me that there are no Democrats who are under investigation as part of this probe (the right-wingers in Wisconsin haven’t said anything about Democrats being under investigation, so that’s a big tip-off to me that only Republicans/conservatives are under investigation), so for Burke and Democratic officials in Wisconsin to not relentlessly attack Walker over hard, indisputable proof that Walker violated campaign finance laws is, in my opinion, political malpractice.
Back to the main point of this blog post, legitimate coordination is illegal coordination. Wisconsin campaign laws prohibit any form of coordination, whether it be a candidate soliciting campaign funds for a front group supporting said candidate and his political allies or some other form of coordination (as a matter of fact, even someone involved with an official campaign for public office asking someone involved with a front group supporting said campaign for driving directions to said campaign’s office would constitute illegal coordination in Wisconsin). If you believe Scott Walker’s absurd claim that he didn’t violate any laws soliciting funds for a right-wing front group, then I’ve got ocean front property in Fort Atkinson that I can sell you.
Over the years, Fighting Bob Fest, held annually in Wisconsin, earned a reputation of being the only real progressive convention anywhere in the United States.
Until this year, that is.
You see, Mary Burke, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Wisconsin this year, was invited to this year’s Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo, and Burke intends to appear there. When I saw Burke’s name on the invite list for Fighting Bob Fest, I cringed, because Burke has quite a bit of robber baron cred:
- Burke publicly supported Madison Prep, a proposed charter school in Madison that never opened after the Madison School Board rejected it. If Fighting Bob La Follette were alive today, he’d rail against Madison Prep, because it would have taken taxpayer money away from public schools in Wisconsin and funneled it into Burke’s proposed charter school.
- Burke has publicly supported provisions in Scott Walker’s union-busting Act 10 requiring public employees to overpay into health insurance and pension plans. If Fighting Bob La Follette were alive today, he’d rail against those provisions of Act 10, because it’s absurd to require public employees to pay more money than necessary into health insurance and pension plans.
- As the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, Burke handed out tax breaks and other forms of corporate welfare to businesses. If Fighting Bob La Follette were alive today, he’d rail against corporate welfare, he’d rail against tax breaks and other forms of corporate welfare, because corporate welfare diverts taxpayer money that could be used to fund public education, infrastructure improvements, etc. and uses it to hand out political favors to businesses instead.
Obviously, Burke doesn’t have as much robber baron cred as, for example, Scott Walker, who Fighting Bob La Follette would have called the “King of Robber Barons” if he were alive today, but that doesn’t change the fact that Burke has quite a bit of robber baron cred herself.
Mary Burke is no Fighting Bob La Follette. In fact, if Fighting Bob La Follette were alive today, he’d call Mary Burke a robber baron, and he wouldn’t apologize for saying that. I find it shameful and disgusting that a convention built around the legacy of Fighting Bob La Follette, the greatest progressive patriot this country has ever known, would even consider inviting someone that Fighting Bob La Follette would have called a robber baron if he were alive today.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that documents released earlier today by a federal appeals court shows that Scott Walker himself illegally coordinated with the Wisconsin chapter of Club for Growth (CfG Wisconsin), a right-wing front group that has spent millions of dollars getting Republicans elected in Wisconsin, and that Gogebic Taconite, the company that pushed for the anti-environment mining bill that was signed into law by Walker last year, donated a whopping $700,000 to CfG Wisconsin:
“The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth,” said an April 28, 2011, email from Kate Doner, a Walker campaign consultant, to R.J. Johnson, an adviser to Walker’s campaign and the advocacy group. “Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept corporate and personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure.”
In the April 2011 email, Doner wrote to Johnson that Walker wanted to have one entity — the Wisconsin Club for Growth — coordinate campaign themes. “As the Governor discussed … he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging,” she wrote.
Walker’s campaign has paid Doner’s fundraising firm $1.26 million since 2011, including more than $70,000 in his latest report.
The hundreds of pages of documents that became available also showed Walker’s team sought to solicit funds for the Wisconsin Club for Growth from an array of nationally known donors to fend off his 2012 recall, including Donald Trump, industrialist billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
According to the documents, Wisconsin Club for Growth bank records indicate that Gogebic Taconite LLC gave $700,000 to Johnson’s group in 2011-’12. Shortly after the recall elections, Republican lawmakers and Walker approved legislation that will make it easier for Gogebic to construct an iron-ore mine in northern Wisconsin.
You can view some of the documents here. Should a link to the full document release become available online, I will update this post to include a link to the entire document release.
This is further proof that Scott Walker is one of the most corrupt elected officials in the entire country. We now have indisputable evidence that Walker illegally coordinated with Republican/conservative front groups.