One of the architects of Wisconsin’s two John Doe probes that sought to harass, intimidate and silence conservatives has signed up for election observer training hosted by a conservative group that was harassed by the Obama Administration’s Internal Revenue Service. Bruce Landgraf, an assistant district attorney in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office has registered for True the Vote’s online election observer, election integrity training. The training is slated to take place on November 1st.
Landgraf played a central role in the John Doe I probe that started in 2010 and was ultimately politicized to the point Democrats thought the probe would help them defeat Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the 2012 recall election. Later that year, after his initial effort to go after Walker failed, Landgraf helped launch a second secret investigation, this time aimed at a constellation of conservative groups, both political and non-profit, that he and officials at the Government Accountability Board thought may have violated the law. State and federal courts halted their invasive probe, saying it was based on an inaccurate view of the law.
In 2010, Landgraf was responsible for putting an innocent man, Christopher Brekken, in jail for refusing to comply with a subpoena even though the subpoena was found to be a violation of state law. “Brekken’s experience with Landgraf illustrates what critics have said about Landgraf’s role in the newest Democrat-led investigation of Wisconsin conservatives: Driven by arrogance and a driving belief that the end justifies the means, he’s willing to flout the law he is sworn to defend,” Matt Kittle of Wisconsin Watchdog reported in late 2013.
True the Vote is an election integrity group based in Texas, and it was one of over 466 groups targeted by the Obama Administration’s IRS for harassment when they applied for their non-profit, tax exempt status. True the Vote does not endorse political candidates so its activities are in keeping with IRS regulations governing non-profit groups. The organization ended up suing the IRS for the discrimination.
According to a sign-up form True the Vote sent out in early October, there are two options for Wisconsin citizens looking to get some training in proper election observing, an online “live” course taking place on November 1, and a self-paced program. Landgraf was the very first person to sign up for the training according to an official with True the Vote.
Asked via e-mail to confirm that it was indeeded himself who signed up for the training, Landgraf wrote:
“Yes. As you probably know, in conjunction with the AG’s Office, we participate in the Election Integrity Task Force. As you may also know, issues arise with some regularity concerning observers. It has been our experience that these types of issues are best addressed at first with persons supervising the observers. In 2012, we had no luck at all engaging representatives from True the Vote, as compared with – for example – the RPW and the DPW. This training function provides an opportunity for contact, but all the better if you can directly supply contact information for a local person or persons. That would be helpful.”
Landgraf certainly seemed to be hinting that election observer hiccups in a previous election were the fault of True the Vote, a rather absurd charge given that True the Vote trains observers but doesn’t employ them and offers the training to anyone in the general public. Pressed to clarify his opinion of True the Vote, Landgraf wrote back:
“Difficult to say if the observer problems in 2012 / 2014 were True the Vote affiliates since observers did not always list an affiliation when signing in. This inquiry however is not based on past issues; it is outreach we do with all organized observer groups. And on the positive side of things, if True the Vote supervisors think there is a law violation going on, it is certainly something we would like to be notified of so that we might address it on Election Day.”
While Landgraf has time to be the very first person to enroll in an election observer training run by a conservative non-profit, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office can’t be bothered to prosecute gun crimes in the county.