By: Brian Sikma
Wisconsin Jobs Now!, a project of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, held two events in Milwaukee on Monday afternoon helping voters vote early in the Senate District 8 recall election. The events were advertised as having free food and prizes for those who came and voted. A source who visited the event located on the corner of Wabash Court and Servite Drive reported to Media Trackers on what took place.
Throughout the activities Monday afternoon, three to four vans (one pictured here) shuttled people back and forth on a roughly 40-minute round trip between the event and Milwaukee City Hall where voting early is taking place. Participants were asked to sign in upon arriving at the event and were immediately given a food ticket and raffle ticket after doing so. The food ticket was good for the barbeque chicken dinner being served, and a raffle awarding prizes to registered attendees was scheduled for later in the afternoon.
Individuals clad in tee-shirts from various local unions staffed the event and served up the dinner while a local DJ blared urban tunes. The van drivers were simply wearing Wisconsin Jobs Now! shirts as they hustled people back and forth from the downtown polling place.
At Milwaukee City Hall, the source confirmed that two men wearing Wisconsin Jobs Now! shirts greeted the group in the office of the Milwaukee Election Commission. The men explained the ballot to the group and passed out clipboards with registration forms.
According to the Wisconsin Statutes, because Wisconsin Jobs Now! and its parent organization Citizen Action of Wisconsin have a political agenda, the men clearly representing the organization should have been restricted to 100 ft of the polling location. The Wisconsin Jobs Now! personnel were all inside of 100 ft and were in violation of the law.
While the event was going on Steve Pickett, an elections specialist with the Government Accountability Board, told the MacIver News Service that if people were given a free meal before they voted “that’s a problem.” The Media Trackers’ source said that they and others at the event were given their food tickets before being taken to vote, and that based on their observations it was “extremely likely” that others were eating the provided meal prior to voting.
In either case, it appears that based on the GAB official’s statements about what is legal and illegal, the Wisconsin Jobs Now! event engaged in illegal campaign activity. Whether or not the meal was consumed before voting, the ticket required to eat the meal was awarded only after a participant registered for the event and before the participant boarded a van to vote.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, the sponsoring group for Wisconsin Jobs Now!, has come under scrutiny recently as Media Trackers revealed that Rep. Sandy Pasch, the Democratic candidate in the Senate District 8 recall election, serves on the Citizen Action Board of Directors.
As members of the media and watchdog groups began to question the propriety of Wisconsin Jobs Now!’s activities as they were advertised ahead of the Monday event, the organization seemed to take steps to cover their tracks. Apparently, sometime after the MacIver News Service ran their article, WJN killed their webpage devoted to inviting and registering people for the event. Even on Facebook it became hard to trace the event as organizers shut down the Facebook event page they had originally created to boost turnout.
Matt Brusky, the Political Director for Citizen Action of Wisconsin (the organization Pasch is formally affiliated with) and organizer for the Good Jobs In Livable Neighboords initiative, serves as the treasurer of Wisconsin Jobs Now! This connection with Rep. Sandy Pasch (D) was expunged in the Monday afternoon self-imposed purge as Wisconsin Jobs Now! pulled references to Brusky from their website. Notably, their website has and remains heavily anti-Alberta Darling and the group’s activities are limited to Senate District 8. Perhaps Brusky’s ties to Pasch are responsible for this.
Media Trackers will continue to closely follow the actions of Wisconsin Jobs Now! and alert the public to suspicious and likely illegal election activities engaged in by the organization.
Update: This article was updated at 7:45 PM on August 1, 2011