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.

Republican Scott Krug flip-flops on proposed CAFO in Central Wisconsin

Remember that blog post I wrote about Republican Wisconsin State Assemblyman Scott Krug of the 72nd Assembly District threatening to sue Madison-based progressive blogger Michael Leon because Leon called him out for effectively supporting a proposed concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) that, if built, would pollute rivers and streams in Central Wisconsin?

Leon wrote me a thank you email for criticizing Krug’s plan to violate Leon’s constitutionally-protected right to free speech, and, in it, he notified me that Krug flip-flopped on CAFOs and now opposes the proposed CAFO in Central Wisconsin:

Aaron,

Just a note of thanks RE your recent piece on the threat repeated by Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids) to file a libel suit against me.

Reading the several comments of support, and ridicule in the analysis of this ludicrous threat, I note this same week that Rep. Krug reversed his position on the proposed massive Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operation (CAFO) in central Wisconsin.

Krug pointed to the high concentrations of Ecoli forcing the closure of area beaches that CAFO opponents have warning about for years and which environmentalist have warned would be made much worse by the proposed CAFO , but the truth is that Krug was facing ridicule that spread quickly around the Net, and jumped on a way to defuse the momentum.

Krug is a pathological liar (and an intellectual lightweight) and would do virtually anything if he though it would advance his petty political career now likely coming to an end this November.

Krug had promised to not take “one cent” of per diem money (for travel) and only serve for two terms (elected in 2010). Both promises were broken with no explanation. See http://malcontends.blogspot.com/2014/08/rep-scott-krug-is-no-show-at-august.html

Your piece stands out because of your citing the Wisconsin and U.S. Constitutions and the clear language of libel law.

Anyway, thanks.

Mike

Unlike Scott Krug, who only recently came out in opposition to CAFOs purely out of political expediency, Dana Duncan, Krug’s Democratic challenger, has always understood the dangers that CAFOs pose to the environment and people who live near them. I strongly encourage voters in the 72nd Assembly District, which includes parts of Wood, Portage, Adams, and Waushara Counties in the central part of Wisconsin, to vote for Dana Duncan on November 4.

Legitimate coordination is illegal coordination

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.

Melissa Sargent writes must-read column about Ferguson shooting and her own experiences in an interracial family

Democratic Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent of Madison’s East Side wrote this column in The Cap Times, a Madison-based alternative newspaper, about the senseless shooting of 18-year-old black teenager Michael Brown at the hands of white Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, as well as her own experiences of growing up in an interracial family and being subjected to racism. Normally, I don’t do this, but, with Representative Sargent’s permission, I’m going to quote her entire editorial:

I grew up in Madison. I have two brothers and a sister. One of my brothers and my sister were adopted; they are African-American.

We did all the normal things that kids do around Madison. We played in the park, went to the beach, and rode our bikes. When it came time to go to school, we naturally walked there together. When I was in fourth grade, our mom made us all matching outfits to wear on the first day of school so my brand new first-grade sister would feel more connected to us. We were proudly marching arm-in-arm, wearing our Hawaiian print shirts when I started hearing the catcalls: “Nigger-lover, nigger–lover, nigger-lover.” As a child it was hard to comprehend why they were mocking me. The words were beyond my years, but I could feel the hatred in their voices.

That was just one of many times I witnessed this kind of treatment toward my family. I knew then that my brother and sister, and their future children, would have a much different experience in the world than I.

Watching the events in Ferguson over the past weeks has brought these memories flooding back and has had me contemplating the state of race relations in our world.

I keep coming back to the word “fear.” We, as a collective, are afraid. We are afraid of our neighbors and afraid of police officers. We are spoon-fed who and what to be afraid of by the media. We turn incidents like the shooting of an unarmed black teen into a political game of who won and who lost.

None of these things is a reflection of reality. My brown-skinned nephews have a very different existence than my white sons’ experience. My sons aren’t followed around a store because the manager suspects they may take something. My sons don’t experience the feeling of being presumed guilty until proven innocent. My heart is torn apart at the thought that any family should lose a child to such senseless violence. I hear the chaos on the evening news with the feeling that our nation has lost its moral compass.

We must move beyond fear and separation to come to a place of understanding and connection. This can only come from society as a whole. Creating silos between different sections of our community must stop now. We need to make a real effort to move toward compassion and thoughtfulness, replacing the violence and fear of incidents like Ferguson with the promise of a brighter future devoid of the bloodshed and heartlessness of the past.

To those in our community who are black, and may be filled with fear, anger, and a mistrust of your white neighbors, I can only acknowledge that your experience is different from mine and that your feelings are equally real. My brother and sister must walk a different path than mine. They understand that racism isn’t limited to a small group that clings to an outdated mindset; it is a prevalent force in our society that must be acknowledged and worked on until its ugly influence is eradicated from our world once and for all.

None of this is easy. It’s something we have to work on day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. It must be done one conversation at a time.

We all need to rise up and engage in a communitywide conversation to address this. It is possible to be empathetic but complacent. We must end the complacency and tackle the race issues that face our community. Though the conversations will be difficult and will make people uncomfortable, we must move forward with as much energy and passion as our community holds. This is Madison and when we put our minds to it, we can change the world.

I come from a much different background, and I have had a much different life experience, than Representative Sargent and her family. Unlike Sargent, who is white and grew up in a family with both white and black relatives, I’m white (although I do have distant Native American ancestry, but I never was around Native American culture and I’m not a member of any tribe, so I consider myself to be white), and I grew up around white relatives and attended schools where only a few minority students were enrolled out of a few hundred total students. To put that another way, I’ve never personally experienced racism, but Representative Sargent has.

Representative Sargent understands first-hand that racism is far too prevalent of a force in American society, and the senseless shooting of a black teenager at the hands of a white police officer in Missouri has awoken me to the fact that racism is still endemic in this country. I hope that, one day, black people in this country and those who live in interracial families can have the same kind of experience in society as white people who live in predominantly or entirely white families do, and that black people and those who live in interracial families don’t have to deal with an endemic culture of racism in this country.

Fighting Bob Fest invites a robber baron to the party

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.

If her campaign’s Facebook page is any indication, Martha Laning seems like a very cool person

I haven’t been paying much attention to the 9th State Senate District race in Wisconsin (Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and surrounding areas), although I’ve been looking at the campaign Facebook page of Democratic candidate Martha Laning, and I’ve noticed that her social media presence is far better than the robotic social media presence of other Democratic candidates, such as Mary Burke and Susan Happ.

The way Burke and Happ tend to run their campaign Facebook pages can be described as follows (keep in mind that I’m paraphrasing here): “Donate to my campaign!” “Sign this petition!” “I had a great time with (name of Democratic political figure)!”, “Fundraising deadline coming soon!”, “(Name of Democratic political figure) is holding a fundraiser for me!”, “like my Facebook page!”, “(Name of political figure or organization) is endorsing me!”, and so on. That comes across to me as robotic and uninteresting.

Laning will do those kind of posts to an extent, but her Facebook presence is far less robotic. Laning mostly shares photos taken at various campaign events, meetings, parades, and other types of events and talk about how wonderful the people she met are. Sometimes, Laning will use her campaign Facebook page to share interesting stories from voters in the 9th State Senate District, such as this one:

Campaigning for any office can be tough work and I respect anyone who does it. There are a lot of long days and many hours away from your family and loved ones, but one of the things that keeps me going are the wonderful people I get to meet along the way. A few weeks ago I was stopped on my way to the Farmers’ Market in Manitowoc by a man I had never met before, but who recognized me as a Senate candidate. Kellon and I had a nice chat and became fast friends; he is a very nice man who energized my spirits that day and reminded me that no matter how long my day or week can be, meeting great people is something I love to do!

I may disagree with Martha Laning on a few issues (such as Common Core State Standards, which she is a vocal supporter of and I’m an opponent of), but that’s beside the point. The point is that, judging by her campaign’s Facebook page, Laning seems like a very down-to-earth person, which is, sadly, a rarity in politics these days.

Indisputable evidence that Scott Walker illegally coordinated with right-wing front group

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.

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