No Permit, No Problem: Wisconsin Jobs Now! Ran Recall Sweatshop without Permit
By: Brian Sikma
MILWAUKEE – Wisconsin Jobs Now! is an SEIU-front group run in part by several operatives currently under investigation for voter fraud in Milwaukee County. The organization led a left-wing early voting effort that benefited Democratic candidates in the recall election. Records obtained from the City of Milwaukee now show that a field office established as part of the group’s early voting political operation appears to have been in flagrant violation of zoning and building codes. According to these city documents, conditions inside the building were dirty, hot, and possibly dangerous.
Weeks before the recall election, Wisconsin Jobs Now! established a field office at 2342 W. North Avenue, just to the northwest of downtown Milwaukee. However, the group never bothered to apply for an occupancy permit until June 4, weeks after moving into the building and only a day before the recall election. When the temporary permit was granted on June 5, it listed a series of terrible conditions inside the building that were to be corrected immediately.
The John K. MacIver Institute‘s news service found the office and noted that it was being used as a key operations center for a massive get out the vote effort. The large parking lot on the property housed the white rented vans Wisconsin Jobs Now! used to assist voters in getting to the polls. Although an allegedly non-partisan effort, Media Trackers observed partisan campaign flyers promoting Democratic candidates littering the parking lot in the days after the recall election.
The partially boarded up and rundown property is owned by Democrat donor Myra J. Holland, who also owns several nearby properties. Holland has given money to state Senators Lena Taylor (D) and Spencer Coggs (D).
Despite occupying the property for several weeks, it was just one day before the recall election that Wisconsin Jobs Now! joined with Holland to file an application for an occupancy permit. Media Trackers confirmed with a City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services employee that in every instance a permit must be obtained before a person or organization actually begins to occupy a property.
The permit application states that Maureen Hammond, acting on behalf of Wisconsin Jobs Now!, was seeking permission for the property to be used as a “General office (Campaign field office).” In addition to technical information about the exact location of the premises, a note typed on the lower half of the page reserved for official use declares, “No vans are to be stored on site.”
Throughout the entire early voting program, however, Wisconsin Jobs Now! parked a large number of vans at the property. A MacIver Institute photograph (below) shows just how many vans could be found in the office’s parking lot at any given time.
The June 5-issued temporary occupancy permit conditions permission for Wisconsin Jobs Now! to use the space on a series of corrections they must make to flagrant code violations. Among the potentially dangerous conditions were a lack of exit signs, loose drywall and plaster on the ceiling, exposed electrical wires, lack of hot water, dirty and broken down water closets, and a dysfunctional heating and air conditioning system.
It appears, then, that leading up into the recall election Wisconsin Jobs Now! was not really concerned about following the legal rules for obtaining and using office space, and they were not particularly concerned about the safety conditions of their staff and volunteers working out of that field office.