MacIver News Service | June 8, 2011[Madison, Wisc…] After more than nine hours of deliberation, the Government Accountability Board (GAB) approved the recall elections of three Wisconsin Democratic state senators.
Jim Holperin (D-Conover), Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Robert Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) were among the 14 senators who left the state in February in an attempt to stop Scott Walker’s budget repair bill from passing the legislature. The attempt ultimately failed, and now the three join six GOP Senators in facing recall elections this summer.
After GAB staff memos were released late Tuesday night, there looked to be a possibility of all three Democratic recalls being thrown out over allegations that the signatures on the recall petitions were fraudulently obtained.
The Democrats lawyer, Jeremy Levinson, was first to testify in front of the board Wednesday. He spoke for an extended period of time, much longer than was originally outlined, seemingly angering some board members in the process. As the speech wore on, more and more of his claims were directly called into question by the board. The GAB members asked many questions about his assertion that a firm from Colorado, Kennedy Enterprises, was hired on a per signature basis, a statement he could not prove.
The Democratic counsel brought in enlarged photocopies of affidavits from more than a hundred people who claimed they were defrauded into signing the recall petition. Every recall petition must have the words “RECALL PETITION” in large, bold letters at the top of each petition page.
Levinson stated that they retained a telemarketing company to survey petition signers. This is the same telemarketing company under dispute in Brown County after citizens filed suit claiming harassment from telemarketers who called multiple times. MacIver News previously reported on the Brown County court dismissing the request for a temporary injunction on the grounds that the calls had stopped.
Levinson also challenged petitions because a circulator moved during the recall period and on one day on different petitions listed different addresses.
“One instance of election fraud is serious,” Levinson said. “Someone who commits even a handful of acts of election fraud has rendered their work on the project invalid.”
Last week, the GAB rejected a similar argument from Republicans, who said that because 3,642 of the signatures collected and attested to by circulators were from outside her senate district, the recall of Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) was rife with fraud and should not proceed.
After Levinson concluded, the Republicans presented their case. They were represented by attorney Eric McLeod. Their presentation was more concise. The burden of proof,, he said was on the challengers to the recall. McLeod argued that Levinson and his team had not brought up anywhere near enough proof to challenge the validity of enough signatures to reverse the decision.
In the end, the board certified 15,540 signatures for the recall of Hansen, 19,255 for Holperin and 17,138 for Wirch. All three recalls had ample signatures to get the recalls approved.
The recalls will be held on July 19 and if primaries are needed the General Election will be held on August 16.