By Collin Roth
It wouldn’t quite be a recall election without SEIU front-group Wisconsin Jobs Now! mobilizing their army of organizers to get out the vote. But it looks like this time, Jobs Now! aims to steer clear of controversy after the organization landed in hot water in August 2011 for organizing early voting ‘block parties’ that featured free BBQ and raffle tickets all in conjunction with a free ride to the polls.
When Media Trackers and the Madison-based MacIver Institute reported on the events that became known as the ‘BBQ-for-Votes’ scandel, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “it would not be legal to combine free food and transportation to the polls in the same event even if, as the organization contends, people could take the food without boarding the buses.”
But after a John Doe investigation into the matter, the Milwaukee District Attorney’s office decided against prosecuting Wisconsin Jobs Now! believing the case lacked ‘prosecutorial merit.’ This of course meant that the prosecutor chose to construe the Election Bribery statue “to require a direct connection between the payment and the act of voting.” However, Asst. District Attorney Bruce Landgraf did note that “there is nothing in the words of the Election Bribery statute that requires a direct and necessary connection…the “thing of value” need only induce the elector to vote.”
The decision about whether to prosecute came down to the term ‘inducement.’ And the Milwaukee District Attorney chose to interpret that word differently than the Wisconsin GAB.
Despite the complaints from Wisconsin Jobs Now! over the investigation and accusations that Media Trackers was attempting to ‘suppress the voter turnout,’ it is particularly interesting to note that Wisconsin Jobs Now! appears to have done away with the block parties, free food, and raffle tickets. Perhaps last year’s John Doe investigation finally shook up the radical community organizing group into following the letter of the law.
Monday was the very first day in Wisconsin that citizens could vote in the Wisconsin recall elections. And Wisconsin Jobs Now! vans were busy driving voters to Milwaukee City Hall.