Media Trackers is dedicated to presenting the facts behind the people, issues and laws making news in Wisconsin. To help get the truth out to the public, Media Trackers works with journalists, providing news releases and research designed to make your job easier. Additionally, representatives from our organization are available to be interviewed on topics in the news. Following is a list of our most recent news releases.
Latest Press Releases
MILWAUKEE – Late Monday evening, Media Trackers released the results of a wide-reaching investigation into voting irregularities that occurred from a property owned by Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee). The investigation found that a property owned by Sen. Taylor contains no fewer than 36 active voter registrations, a number that far exceeds the number of individuals allowed to live at the property according to the City of Milwaukee.
Three areas of concern surfaced in the investigation. First, the property, located at 1018 N. 35th Street in Milwaukee, immediately adjacent to Sen. Taylor’s law office, is zoned to be inhabited by far less than 36 individuals. Senator Taylor’s ownership of the property makes her liable for how the property is used.
Second, among the individuals who used election day registrations to register to vote from the address on April 5th, at least one individual was an ineligible felon, whose identity and ability to vote were corroborated by Sen. Taylor’s mother. Sen. Taylor’s mother operated a non-profit organization from the property, and a month before the April 5th election the non-profit was shut down by the state of Wisconsin for ongoing failure to comply with state regulations.
Third, a number of individuals registered to vote at the address and then in other legal documents obtained by Media Trackers listed their official address as something besides 1018 N. 35th St. One individual listed their address as Chicago, IL shortly after using the address to vote in the April 5th election. The multiple discrepancies between legal addresses used by individuals registered to vote at the home owned by Sen. Taylor raises a multitude of questions about the legality of their ongoing use of the home as their voting address.
Brian Sikma, communications director for Media Trackers, summed up the situation with the following statement:
“The scope of this scheme indicates that Senator Lena Taylor and her mother need to be asked very serious questions about how the property was used, and how it came to be that 36 voters, some felons still on extended supervision, and others who appear to possibly be from out of state, were registered to vote at the address. There is simply far too much detail present in this story for it be a simple mistake. At best this is gross negligence that undermines the integrity of the election process, at worst it is an offense against the state of Wisconsin.”
To reach Media Trackers for comment, e-mail brian (at) mediatrackers.org.
22nd November, 2011
MILWAUKEE – A major privacy flaw has emerged in the way recall elections are conducted in Wisconsin, a Media Trackers review finds. Individuals who sign a recall petition must provide their name, signature, address, and the date that they signed the document. The individual’s political preference could, in part, be determined by which petition they signed.
“All of the personal, private information that is placed on a recall petition could be accessed by businesses, political organizations, or individuals who intend to misuse or abuse that data,” said Brian Sikma, communications director for Media Trackers. “There is no statute that prevents that information from being abused by people who are looking for ways to co-opt personal data that many people try to responsibly keep private.”
The Government Accountability Board confirmed Thursday morning that this privacy loophole exists in the system. “There is no restriction on how recall petition information may be used.”
Media Trackers believes that as yet another recall campaign gets underway, Wisconsin citizens should be aware that zero privacy protections exist to protect them from ominous, malicious, or fraudulent behavior. Due to the highly charged nature of the political atmosphere, some people could seize personal information and use it to punish or harm others based on their political leanings. Others may seize the opportunity to gather important details that help them carry out harmful crimes.
“Wisconsin voters need to know that this privacy loophole exists and they need to consider that before signing any petitions,” Sikma remarked. “At minimum, those who sign recall petitions should strongly verify the credibility of those asking them to sign before they commit to doing so.”
17th November, 2011
MILWAUKEE – In an effort to strengthen the integrity of Wisconsin elections, Governor Scott Walker and legislative leaders enacted a photo ID law earlier this year. The law requires Wisconsin voters to show a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or compliant student ID card, when they vote. Other states have enacted similar measures.
On October 11th, the Wisconsin League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit in Dane County to halt the implementation of the new photo ID law. Legal challenges to photo ID laws in other states have not been successful. Leading the charge against the new law is Carolyn Castore, who serves on the League’s State Legislative Committee. Castore was formerly the state director of ACORN, a left-wing community organizing group.
During Castore’s tenure as head of ACORN in Wisconsin, the group faced allegations of illegal election activity. Prosecutors said that from 2007 to 2008, ACORN’s actions were “marred by fraud and corruption.” Media Trackers discovered that three of Castore’s employees pled guilty to Class I felonies stemming from charges that they fraudulently abused the voter registration process. Similar ACORN activities on a nationwide scale led to a bi-partisan measure in Congress that denied all federal taxpayer money from ever going to ACORN.
When asked about the criminal actions that took place under her leadership, Castore dismissed the incidents saying they were “victimless crimes.”
“Whatever credibility the legal assault on Wisconsin’s photo ID law had quickly disappears when you realize that the person leading the charge doesn’t take election fraud seriously,” said Brian Sikma, communications director for Media Trackers. “Election fraud is not a victimless crime and those who regard it as such show a tremendous amount of disrespect for the people of Wisconsin,” Sikma commented. “With yet another recall election potentially coming, and a number of regular elections taking place next year, Wisconsin voters need to know that the voting process will not be hijacked by individuals like Ms. Castore and those who worked for her.”
Full Media Trackers report available here.
1st November, 2011
-For Immediate Release-
Milwaukee – Media Trackers, a non-partisan conservative investigative watchdog, discovered a total of three out-of-state SEIU operatives that registered to vote in the Spring Election using a Glendale hotel address.
Austin Thompson of Georgia, Todd Stoner of New Jersey, and Clarence Haynes of Florida all used same-day registration to register and vote in the April 5, 2011 spring election from a Residence Inn in Glendale, Wisconsin. All three used improper proof of residence according to Government Accountability Board guidelines. Todd Stoner, an SEIU operative from New Jersey, listed his New Jersey ID as part of his proof of residence when registering to vote in Wisconsin.
In the case of Austin Thompson and Todd Stoner, both have active voter registrations in other states.
“With thorough research, we were able to make this discovery about the voter registrations at the Glendale Residence Inn,” said Media Trackers Researcher Collin Roth. “But when will Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen take these issues of election integrity seriously? With two high profile elections in 2011 and one more looming with the Walker recall, law enforcement must ensure the public that out-of-state political activists are not able to exploit Wisconsin election laws in order to vote from hotel addresses” concluded Roth.
26th October, 2011
MILWAUKEE – As the state Senate prepares to take up the matter of AB 210, a measure that would bring Wisconsin’s health insurance regulations into full compliance with Obamacare, Media Trackers released an analysis of the arguments used to support the measure’s passage. “As a conservative watchdog group, we believe is important that legislators and citizens understand the far-reaching consequences of this bill,” said Brian Sikma, communications director for Media Trackers.
“After studying the issues involved, it is fairly clear that the ‘choice’ presented Wisconsin lawmakers is hardly a choice at all. The federal government will, one way or the other, impose its mandate on the state and if lawmakers wish to reject Obamacare they should strongly consider opposing AB 210,” Sikma stated. “The misguided polices found in Obamacare should be quarantined and left at the federal level.”
The point-by-point analysis of arguments used to support AB 210 may be found here.
25th October, 2011
MILWAUKEE – Media Trackers has discovered as part of an investigation into voting irregularities that Austin Thompson, a recently arrested Occupy Milwaukee protester and former Wisconsin Jobs Now! staffer, is registered to vote in both Wisconsin and Georgia. Thompson used same-day voter registration and a motel adddress to vote in the April 5 election, but in two subsequent traffic incidents he listed his address as being in Georgia. Records from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office show that Mr. Thompson is still registered to vote at his Georgia address.
“It is important that voting irregularities be examined and that the public be aware of any attempt to fraudulently influence the outcome of Wisconsin elections,” said Brian Sikma, communications director of Media Trackers. “This discovery was made as part of a broader and ongoing investigation, and we will continue to report on the facts as they come to light.”
The story of Mr. Thompson’s questionable double registration may be found here.
24th October, 2011
MILWAUKEE – As the Assembly stands poised to pass AB 210, a bill that would overhaul Wisconsin’s health insurance regulations and make them compliant with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” Media Trackers unveiled a report that analyzes the consequences of such a move. “Voluntarily embracing the big government, nanny state mandates found in Obamacare carries serious consequences for Wisconsin consumers,” said Brian Sikma, communications director of Media Trackers.
The report argues that Wisconsin legislators are faced with a false choice about how to implement PPACA’s mandates. “There is a common misperception that Wisconsin actually has a substantive choice when it comes to reforming our health insurance laws to make them comply with Washington’s directives,” Sikma stated. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Obama administration officials such as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have clearly said that states may ‘choose’ to completely comply with Obamacare, or they will be forced to do so. There is no real choice. There is no room for free market reform.”
“If Wisconsin legislators and policymakers are opposed to Obamacare, they would do well to assume no ownership of the problem, and refuse to legitimize Obamacare by voluntarily placing its provisions in state law,” concluded Sikma.
18th October, 2011
October 14, 2011
-For Immediate Release-
Contact: Brian Sikma, Communications Director
MILWAUKEE – In light of this week’s announcement by Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate that a recall of Governor Scott Walker will proceed, conservative non-partisan watchdog group Media Trackers took a look at United Wisconsin, the organization charged with leading the recall effort. What Media Trackers uncovered is not a “grassroots movement of the people” but a well orchestrated front group led by seasoned left-wing operatives.
- The “non-partisan” organization United Wisconsin held a booth at the Democratic Convention this summer where Founder Michael Brown told WisPolitics.com that “the resources the Democrats can bring to us are obviously going to be monumental.”
- The “independent” organization hired Meagan Mahaffey, former Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and operative for progressive organizations Citizen Action of Wisconsin, America Coming Together, and Advancing Wisconsin.
- Meagan Mahaffey is closely connected to Democratic Chairman Mike Tate, having worked together on the 2004 Howard Dean campaign, at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and at Advancing Wisconsin.
- United Wisconsin’s Public Relations Director is Angie Aker, who is currently working as Managing Director for liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org
- United Wisconsin’s website was registered as of February 2010, a full year prior to Governor Walker’s election.
“Don’t let the rhetoric fool you, United Wisconsin is not the non-partisan independent movement it claims to be,” said Media Trackers Communications Director Brian Sikma. “The seasoned operatives at the Democratic Party and Big Labor would not trust something as significant as the recall of Scott Walker without the addition of professional politicos like Meagan Mahaffey. United Wisconsin represents just the latest left-wing shadow group organized by professionals in the Democratic Party to masquerade as an independent grassroots movement,” Sikma concluded.
14th October, 2011
MILWAUKEE – Media Trackers, a conservative non-partisan watchdog group, recently looked at the Portland, Oregon streetcar system and compared it to the proposed Milwaukee streetcar system. Advocates of a Milwaukee streetcar have suggested that Portland’s system serves as a good model for their plans.
The Portland system currently has an annual operating cost of $5.5 million, and a mere 9% of that – $500,000 – is covered by ridership fares. The remaining $5 million difference is covered by a regional transit authority and the city of Portland. Both of which are taxpayer-funded entities. Advocates of the Milwaukee streetcar insist that it will not have an annual operating cost burden that taxpayers must shoulder. Brian Sikma, communications director for Media Trackers, noted however that, “if Portland is the example of so-called success, Milwaukee taxpayers will find themselves providing a continuous bailout for Mayor Tom Barrett’s streetcar.”
To build the Portland streetcar, the city raised property taxes by $9.6 million, increased parking rates by $28.6 million, and directly allocated other funds to the project. The total construction cost of the first phase of the system was $56.9 million ten years ago. A previously unused federal earmark is expected to cover most of the Milwaukee system’s construction costs, but any overruns are going to be the responsibility of city government, which would need to make drastic budget cuts, raise taxes, or both to fund the project. The cost of moving utilities along the route has been estimated to be $70 million, and that cost would be borne by either taxpayers or ratepayers.
Ridership on the 4-mile long Portland system is 4 million people annually. The Milwaukee system is projected to have only 665,000 riders annually on the initial 2-mile loop. If the Milwaukee project is expanded in the future to create a nearly 4-mile long system, ridership is still projected to be only 1.66 million people per year. “If Portland riders cover only 9% of their streetcar’s annual operating cost, how can half as many riders on a similar Milwaukee system even hope to cover 10% of the system’s annual cost unless fares are prohibitively high?” Sikma asked.
“The Portland streetcar system is hardly self-sufficient. It is a burdensome expense that requires an ongoing bailout from Portland taxpayers. Milwaukee’s proposed system will optimistically have half as many riders as the Portland system, and there is every reason to believe that the ongoing cost of the Milwaukee streetcar will make it a major waste of taxpayer dollars,” Sikma concluded.
11th October, 2011
“Facts are never a distraction”
MILWAUKEE – Today, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin whined about Media Trackers’ effort to unveil facts related to the multi-million dollar Milwaukee streetcar project. According to their press release, the “hypocritical mud-slinging by MediaTrackers.org is a thinly-veiled attempt to distract Wisconsinites,” and “any organization representing itself as a nonpartisan media outlet owes it to the public to present the facts.”
Brian Sikma, communications director for Media Trackers, responded with this statement:
“The facts are never a distraction in an important public policy debate. Media Trackers has held elected officials and individuals affiliated with both major parties accountable for their actions. Contrary to what the Democratic Party of Wisconsin may think, the citizens of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin deserve to know as many facts as possible about the proposed Milwaukee streetcar.”
6th October, 2011