Fraud Inundates Wisconsin Senate Recall
By: Brian Sikma
Milwaukee – Imitating the infamous “smokes for votes” scandal of the 2000 election, a small left-wing Wisconsin front group has been caught handing out barbecue chicken dinners to those who vote early in the Wisconsin recall elections. During the 2000 campaign a wealthy liberal activist was caught passing out cigarettes to Milwaukee’s homeless in exchange for their vote in the all-important presidential election. Over a decade later, Wisconsin Jobs Now!, a small group sponsored by the union umbrella Citizen Action of Wisconsin, hosted “block parties” in northern Milwaukee and essentially paid citizens to vote.
According to Wisconsin state law, it is illegal for anyone to pay or otherwise give someone something to induce or encourage them vote or not vote in an election. As the most recent round of Wisconsin Jobs Now! “block parties” took place on Monday, August 1, a Media Trackers source shared what happened. Voters were handed a ticket for the barbecue dinner and a raffle ticket after they signed in to the event. At some point each voter was asked to board a van with the organization’s logo emblazoned on the side. The vans ran round-trip transportation between the neighborhood party and Milwaukee City Hall, where there is an early voting location.
The shenanigans did not stop with the food and prizes give-away back at the party. Once voters were hustled upstairs in the City Hall to the election commission office, union volunteers affiliated with Wisconsin Jobs Now! carefully explained how the process would work. Because Wisconsin Jobs Now! has clearly aligned themselves on their website and in public statements with the partisan campaign of Rep. Sandy Pasch, their presence inside the polling place violated state electioneering laws. That was strike two.
As if that wasn’t enough, Media Trackers unearthed last week that Rep. Sandy Pasch (D) the liberal candidate running against Sen. Alberta Darling (R) (who supported Gov. Walker’s collective bargaining reforms) sits on the board of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Translated, that means that the front group helping the liberal candidate is sponsored by the union umbrella organization that the same liberal senate candidate and incumbent state representative sits on the board of.
When the murky ties surfaced, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, WTMJ-TV, talk radio hosts, and others began to question whether or not Rep. Sandy Pasch and her senate campaign violated yet another state election law prohibiting coordination between campaigns and outside groups. After Media Trackers filed the first formal complaint alleging impropriety on the part of Wisconsin Jobs Now! with the Government Accountability Board, Wisconsin’s state government election watchdog, Pasch distanced herself from her work as a Citizen Action of Wisconsin board member. She definitively said that her work on the board did not have a political slant and she had broken all ties with them for the duration of the recall election.
E-mails between Rep. Sandy Pasch’s official office in the state capitol and Citizen Action of Wisconsin were obtained by Media Trackers in an open records request. Released on Wednesday, the e-mails show Pasch being asked to help determine political endorsements for the liberal group as the executive director told the board, “You as the board of directors make the final decision on all endorsements.” Other e-mails included talking points, and even an attempt to coordinate communication between Rep. Pasch’s capitol office and Citizen Action of Wisconsin nearly a month into the Representative’s campaign for state senate.
In the remaining days of the tumultuous and unprecedented recall election that could potentially flip control of the Wisconsin state Senate from Republican to Democrat, Pasch and other candidates with ties to groups that sponsored many of the protests during the political debate that sparked the recalls are sure to face intense questioning about their loyalties and alliances.