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Tea Party Ready to Do Battle in Court Over Recall Signatures

Groups say they plan legal challenge after being told Wisconsin's election board won't accept their findings on validity of recall petitions.

Verify the Recall, an effort backed by Tea Party groups to ensure the validity of petition signatures in Wisconsin's recall elections, is now 13,000 volunteers strong and organizers say one signature is being checked every 2.7 seconds.

Ross Brown, founder of We The People of the Republic, said Verify the Recall has gathered enough evidence in its vetting process to possibly put the brakes on the attempted recall of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).

And that’s just the start. Volunteers now are moving on to the reviewing the petitions seeking to .

But will their efforts all go for naught?

According to the Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, they just might.

Only candidates can challenge signatures

State law prohibits Verify the Recall and other outside groups from filing an official challenge of recall petitions. Therefore, the GAB will not consider any of the evidence or findings from an independent review of the petitions.

However, the Wisconsin Grandsons of Liberty and We The People — the Tea Party groups behind the verification effort — aren’t going to give up without a fight. Brown said they plan to go to the courts and challenge this provision in the law that restricts them from submitting a formal challenge.

“We knew this was going to be an uphill battle and that we are in uncharted territory in terms of a third-party taking a vested interest in the process,” Brown told Patch. “We were hopeful that the GAB would accept our findings and recognize VTR as a legitimate entity, but it does appear that this will be heading to court at some point, and our attorneys are working on what that will look when that happens.”

GAB spokesman Reid Magney said some have suggested that because average citizens circulated recall petitions, average citizens should be able to file challenges.

However, he said, "state law provides that only the officeholder may file challenges. Average citizens can help officeholders check the recall petitions for invalid signatures, but the challenges have to be filed by the officeholder.”

Magney said the GAB would review the group’s findings. However, the Tea Party groups cannot make a formal legal challenge.

“We will certainly look at the findings of third-party groups who have examined the recall petitions for ways to improve the process, but the law does not allow us to consider their findings as official challenges,” Magney said in an e-mail to Patch.

Although the Verify the Recall requested the GAB consider its findings officially, the board isn’t willing to step outside its statutory limitations.

“Given the unprecedented nature of these recall efforts, it would be improper to change procedures in the midst of our review,” stated GAB Executive Director Kevin Kennedy in a memo to board members Tuesday. “The board should limit its review to its established statutory and administrative procedures subject to a court order.”

Is issue heading to court?

A court order is precisely what Ross and Verify the Recall volunteers are hoping for. On Jan. 20, Circuit Court Judge Mac Davis ordered the GAB to strike fake names and duplicate signatures from the petitions, although. In Davis’ decision, he said the GAB is “obligated to seek other resources if needed.”

That portion of his ruling forms the basis for the legal challenge crafted by Madison attorney James Troupis, who is representing Verify the Recall. In a letter to the GAB, Troupis outlined a legal challenge to the current law, and stated the data collected by Verify the Recall is that extra “resource” the GAB is obligated to use, if needed.

“We would suggest that Verify the Recall be allowed to participate in the process and submit its findings as an amicus curiae, or ‘friend of the process,” Troupis stated. “There is considerable support for such participation both in the law and the policies articulated recently by members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”

Group finds invalid signatures in Senate recall

The Verify the Recall group is employing software designed by a Texas-based group called True the Vote, which used the program in a congressional district vote in that state.

"We’re finding things that we expected to find," said Brown, of the We The People group. "Duplicate names and questionable signatures. It appears that the Sen. Fitzgerald recall attempt will not get the needed number of signatures based on our findings. That’s something on the radar right now of significance."

Recall organizers submitted more than 20,000 petitions to recall Fitzgerald, nearly 4,000 more than needed.

On Thursday, Fitzgerald — along with the other three Senate Republicans being targeted for recall — filed a formal challenge with the GAB over the petitions. Fitzgerald's complaint stated that thousands of signatures are invalid and that organizers did not present enough valid signatures to force a recall.

In addition to verifying the signatures, the Verify the Recall group also created a “No Sign” registry to protect people who did not sign a recall petition. Those who add their names to the list affirm they never signed a petition, and if their name appears on a recall petition during the group’s vetting process, those people will be contacted.

“We are trudging ahead, and we remain optimistic about having the GAB consider our findings," Brown said. "It’s unfortunate the GAB is forcing us into this legal path. There’s more to come and we are looking to getting this behind us."

Bren February 12, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Red, the "secret" component had to do with keeping the public out of the loop for as long as possible. More updates on the issue from other posters, above.
morninmist February 12, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I imagine Minneapolis-St Paul and Chicago will get their piece of the Koch $$ for their media markets. thinkprogress ThinkProgress Koch Brothers buy $700K in ads in desperate effort to save Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker thkpr.gs/wmpBTA #wirecall 8 Feb
shawn February 12, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Some of Linda's high and mighty moral insults... Where have you been for the past year, John, in Gingrich's moon colony? Are you able to read anything but tea party-approved pamphlets? get off the tea bag train Time for Scottie to put on his big boy panties Time for Scottie to put on his big boy panties So much for your self-righteousness. Hyprocracy is alive and well in the leftie party.
shawn February 12, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Will you also be providing links to the out of state money that the unions will dump into Falks campaign?
morninmist February 12, 2012 at 03:59 PM
@shawn If you want that info--let your own fingers do he walking and find it yourself. Stop expecting others to do things for you.
Craig February 12, 2012 at 04:27 PM
SayWhat: If you noticed it had been an hour since I responded in kind to Linda when you called me out to put a stop to it. 1) I never called her any defamatory names as she accused me of doing. 2) I showed her that she had been posting 2 hours more than I, yet she accused me of posting day and night.(but somehoe I managed to be in a bar getting drunk too) Oddly enough, I knew she was just the type that has to get the last word. Ironically Shawn points out Linda's issues clearly.
shawn February 12, 2012 at 04:28 PM
morn said "Stop expecting others to do things for you " Such as, fund my pension? Fund my health insurance? That's rich mornmist. Thanks for the laugh!
Randy1949 February 12, 2012 at 04:38 PM
@Shawn -- It's known as paying teachers, nurses, and sanitation workers for the services they provide for us. They chose to take their compensation in the form of paid benefits rather than extra take home pay because that was actually a better deal for the taxpayer. Our Governor wanted to give them what amounts to a 5-12% pay cut? Fine, that was reasonable during the economic downturn, and the public workers agreed to that temporarily. Act 10 made it permanent.
shawn February 12, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Randy-the only entity that actually took a pay CUT was the union that no longer has forced collection of dues that were then used to buy off politicians and the people that they negotiate with. The public union workers salaries were NOT cut, they simply are being asked to make a realistic contribution to their own benefits. But, the union bosses want their puppets to make people believe that their pay was cut. Welcome to the real world. Glad you could make it!
Randy1949 February 12, 2012 at 05:19 PM
@Shawn -- Compensation was cut. What used to be provided over and above take home pay, is now subject to a contribution out of that pay, lowering the amount the worker takes home. Less money to pay bills and buy things that would have generated sales tax for the state. Yes, we all know what the union dues thing was about. Scott Fitzgerald admitted as much last March. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLJdijPEBJE I'm not a union member, by the way, and never have been.
Linda Motley February 12, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Ah, Craig's mom has let him on the computer again. Like I said last night dear, why don't you come back when you're old enough to vote. Children should be seen and not heard, especially when they can neither read nor carry on an intelligent conversation. All you have accomplished is to prove the point that the tea party is full of haters and uneducated children trying (and failing) to be bullies. But thanks for the laughs...
Craig February 12, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Shawn, I have to agree with you. High and mighty, self-righteous...and a record of being a drain on society. Run CCAP and it becomes abundantly clear why some want entitlements and no medical malpractice reform. People who want to get rich off of the backs of others often react exactly like 'it' does. Sadly, those nuisance and fabricated lawsuits do not always get dismissed, and drives up medical care costs for those of us who actually contribute to the system.
Craig February 12, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Randy i agree that it is a cut in pay. (in one way or another- it affects the amount of disposable income) But being a realist, I know this has been the case for the private sector for years. Where was the protest when Briggs started to make employees pay 100% of the cost of health insurance? Nobody gave a damn about them, but ask a public employee to make a small contribution and it is National News.
Craig February 12, 2012 at 07:06 PM
One can also make the arguement that a tax increase is like taking a pay cut. Forcing one to make a purchase they can not afford is a pay cut.
Randy1949 February 12, 2012 at 07:40 PM
@Craig -- Actually, people who noticed that private sector workers were taking cuts in compensation while the pay of CEOs and the profits to stockholders increased did give a damn. The better benefits of public sector workers was an embarrassing contrast with this, for anyone who cared to look, and that's why someone made an issue of it.
msadvntrus February 12, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Shawn- "... the union that no longer has forced collection of dues that were then used to buy off politicians and the people that they negotiate with." You say this as if you don't know that Walker's been bought and paid for by Americans for Prosperity, a.k.a. the Koch brothers, amongst so many other organizations. And yes, you do need to understand that the benefits that public workers receive is part of their wage, as Randy says. Public workers, some that Randy didn't mention- firefighters, police officers, social workers - provide vital services to our communities! It's ridiculous to think that their wages (benefits) shouldn't be funded by the taxpayer. You do realize that Senator's and Congressmen's wages (benefits, including a golden healthcare plan and a pension) are funded by taxpayer dollars. And we all know that's not the only place they are getting their money. They get plenty to influence their votes.
Michael February 12, 2012 at 10:00 PM
This thread is more of the same, childish name-calling. If the people taking part could leave out the personal blows, others would be more likely to listen to what you have to say and view your opinions as valid.
morninmist February 13, 2012 at 01:01 AM
It would not surprise me one bit if folks on this board are in the same boat as this man--yell for tax cuts --then accept government help for the family!! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/even-critics-of-safety-net-increasingly-depend-on-it.html?_r=1&hp Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It Feb 11, 2012 LINDSTROM, Minn. ....He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government. “I don't demand that the government does this for me. I don't feel like I need the government,” said KI GULBRANSON, who counts on an earned-income tax credit and has signed up his children for free meals at school. He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman. Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.
MaryJ February 13, 2012 at 01:53 AM
totally agree! childish name calling goes on and on. Wake up and grow up!
Craig February 13, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Let's hope not, Morninmist. I find it sad to see people in that kind of shape, it is tragic when there are kids involved. At 57 years old and three kids in school, you wonder if he'll live to see them graduate. This guy has it rough, there are many more like him that are close to being in the same spot as he is. Imagine those who are just getting by. They get hit with a 20% pay cut. Maybe they are laid off. Or maybe they have a huge tax increase.... All of these scenarios are toxic for someone just getting by. That is the middle class in many cases. We Americans are lucky so far. Imagine what Greece is going through. We could suffer the same fate as Greece unless things change soon. There may be NO safety net at all. Let's hope we all can find a way to make positive changes on a Federal level.
Dawn2485 February 13, 2012 at 07:20 AM
Well, hope springs eternal, Baggers! Good luck with your fruitless effort, which is going nowhere and will never hold up. Dream on.
morninmist February 15, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Vanny smackdown from the Recall Committee lawyers. buck up Van--you are up for a recall. http://webapps.wi.gov/sites/recall/Rebuttal/Senate%20Recall%20Committees%27%20Consolidated%20Brief.pdf
Randy1949 February 15, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I'm glad you bumped this thread, because I just found this: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/politiscope/madison-politiscope-fitzgerald-campaign-submits-bizarre-inaccurate-signature-challenges/article_12a10bee-5696-11e1-8491-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1mOwu5EVn
morninmist February 15, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Yes, I saw that. And the rebuttal I posted addressed this "errors". The link I posted is for all 4 Senators .....Perhaps most comically, the campaign challenged the veracity of a signature it determined was submitted by a man named "Timothy Sucker." "[It] appears to be a fictiousness name, as no evidence of this individual's existence could be produced, and the slang connotations associated with his last name." The actual petition shows the man's name is Timothy Suckow and he is a resident of Watertown. Neither the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate nor the Fitzgerald campaign have responded to numerous messages. This story was updated Feb. 14.
Bucky February 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I think that my dog could run against Walker if the election was tomorrow and beat him. I defiantly know that my dog is a lot smarter then Scott Walker and better looking.
morninmist February 27, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Walker is playing the victim card. He will NOT challenge the recall signatures! http://elections.wispolitics.com/2012/02/citing-time-crunch-walker-camp-wont.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
morninmist February 27, 2012 at 03:27 PM
YUP--shorter version of Walker ducking out of the challenge!! Rick Nahrstadt ‏ @madturtle65 Shorter: We got nothing. elections.wispolitics.com/2012/02/citing… #wiunion #wirecall
Menoparent March 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Those union workers did take a pay cut, reasonable, agree, but the school districts still want more, it will never end.
morninmist March 11, 2012 at 05:36 PM
gov walker was deceitful and does NOT have our trust. HE WILL GO DOWN. DefeatVos ‏ @DefeatVos RT @starroots: @GovWalker sounds like the only thing moving forward for you is the John Doe investigation. #wiunion #Walkergate #reclaimwi
morninmist March 11, 2012 at 05:38 PM
SHAWN STOP THE LIES. PUBLIC WORKERS EARN THEIR WAGES AND COMPENSATION. We work for a living and pay our taxes just like other workers.

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