Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

Posts tagged "Wisconsin Recalls"

A Wisconsin insurance executive and Republican donor was charged with voting illegally more than a dozen times in four elections.

The Journal-Sentinel reported that 50-year-old Robert Monroe was caught as a result of an investigation into a possible illegal voting by his son in Waukesha County. But after his son denied requesting an absentee ballot from his father’s address in Shorewood, suspicion turned to Monroe.

A complaint claimed that Monroe voted five times in Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) recalled election. He also was accused of voting illegally in a 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court election, a 2012 primary, and the 2012 presidential election.

Although the complaint did not state who Monroe voted for, WISN determined that he had donated money to Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling.

Prosecutors used Monroe’s cell phone records to prove that he traveled all the way to Indiana to cast a second vote in the 2012 presidential election. Prosecutors also tested some of the ballots for genetic material, and only found DNA belonging to Monroe.

In May of 2012, prosecutors said that Monroe begged his ex-wife, sons and brother to register to vote in a text message.

“You must go to city hall and register to vote,” the message said. “Every vote will be needed!… Please please please.”

According to the complaint, Monroe worked as an executive in the health care industry. His LinkedIn page indicated that he was an insurance executive, who said he loved “the thrill of the hunt, leading teams and developing new business.”

For his part, Monroe insisted to investigators that he did not remember voting in the elections because he takes drugs for Attention Deficit and Obsessive Compulsive disorders.

Monroe faces 13 felony election fraud charges in all, including voting more than once, voting as a disqualified person, registering in more than one place, and providing false information to election officials. He could spend up to 18 months in prison, and pay a $10,000 fine for each charge.

His next court date was set for July 17.

Watch the video below from WISN, broadcast June 23, 2014.

H/T: David Edwards at The Raw Story

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

A secret criminal investigation made national news with the disclosure that prosecutors had alleged Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of an effort to illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups to help his campaign and others.

But the next day, the Republican governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate said the John Doe probe had been resolved and that two judges had said it was “over.”

Here is part of the June 20, 2014 interview of Walker by Steve Doocy, host of the network TV talk show “Fox & Friends”:

Doocy: ”So, over the last couple of years, there’s been some legal action out in Wisconsin. And some of the documents were unsealed yesterday. We’ve got to point out, you were never charged with anything. But at one point, they allege that you had a central role in a criminal fund-raising scheme. OK, tell us what you did.”

Walker: ”Well, don’t just take my word for it. Look at the facts. The facts are pretty clear.

"You’ve had not one but two judges — a state judge and a federal judge; a state judge (who is) a well-respected court of appeals judge, and a federal judge more recently — have both looked at this argument. And in the past, not just recently — remember this is not new news, it’s just newly released yesterday because documents were opened — but no charges, case over.

"Both judges said they didn’t buy the argument. They didn’t think that anything was done that was illegal, and so they’ve gone forward and not only said, we don’t buy it, they actually shut the case down, both at the state and at the federal level.

"So, many in the national media and even some here in Wisconsin are looking at this (case) backwards. This is a case that’s been resolved, that not one but two judges have said is over. And we’re just learning about it because it became open in a document yesterday. But there is no argument there."

Is that it?

Is Walker right that the Doe case has been “resolved” and two judges have said it is “over”?

Experts say no. After all, one of the key court rulings that has stalled the investigation is a “preliminary injunction.” And that is on appeal.

What’s the case about?

Under Wisconsin law, a John Doe is “intended as an independent, investigatory tool to ascertain whether a crime has been committed and, if so, by whom.”

Unlike standard criminal investigations, law enforcement officials in a John Doe have special powers, including the power to compel the testimony of reluctant witnesses under oath and to issue subpoenas requiring witnesses to turn over documents.

Another key difference is that the judge overseeing a Doe can — and typically does — order that the proceedings be done in secret, unlike the vast majority of court proceedings.

Walker has been connected to two John Doe investigations.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, conducted a wide-ranging probe of aides and associates to Walker going back to Walker’s time as Milwaukee County executive. That investigation, sometimes known as John Doe I, led to six convictions, ranging from misconduct in office for campaigning on county time to stealing from a veterans fund.Walker was not charged, and that investigation was shut down in March 2013.

Before closing that probe, however, Chisholm launched a separate investigation in the summer of 2012 based on information learned in the first one. To get what has been termed John Doe II off the ground, Chisholm worked with district attorneys from four counties — members of both parties — and the state Government Accountability Board, which administers the state’s elections and ethics laws. Francis Schmitz, a former assistant U.S. attorney and self-described Republican, was named special prosecutor in the case.

Walker’s evidence

Alleigh Marre, spokeswoman for Walker’s campaign, cited two court documents to back Walker’s claim. It’s not clear what she was referring to in the first document, a December 2013 court filing by Schmitz, and she didn’t respond to our request to elaborate.

The second document was a court order that John Doe Judge Gregory Peterson issued on Jan. 10, 2014. It quashed subpoenas that had been issued to Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups. And it ordered the return of any property seized with those subpoenas or with search warrants served on two officials of the groups.

But the order did not resolve the case.

Indeed, in his order, Peterson made reference to the possibility of his ruling be appealed. And the order has been challenged and is awaiting a ruling from the state Court of Appeals.

Other legal action

Another key ruling was made in federal court, by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa.

In February 2014, the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth and one of its directors, Eric O’Keefe sued in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee in an attempt to stop the Doe investigation, saying it violated their rights to free speech, free association and equal protection under the law.

Three months later, Randa issued a preliminary injunction halting the probe while he considered the lawsuit. He said it appeared prosecutors were violating the First Amendment rights of Club for Growth and O’Keefe. And he ordered prosecutors to return any material they had gathered in the investigation and destroy whatever copies of it they had made.

But as the term “preliminary injunction” would indicate, that did not mean the case had been resolved or was over.

Indeed, Randa’s ruling has been appealed and the parties are awaiting a decision from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Experts weigh in

We consulted five attorneys who have represented multiple clients in criminal John Doe investigations — Madison defense attorneys Marcus Berghahn and Stephen Morgan (Morgan is a former state and federal prosecutor); Milwaukee defense attorneys Jeremy Levinson, who also handles campaign finance cases for Democrats, and Raymond Dall’Osto; and Marquette University Law School professor and former state prosecutor Daniel Blinka.

Bottom line: The John Doe investigation case has been stopped for the time being, but it has not been resolved. The rulings by judges Peterson and Randa are not final and are being appealed. The appellate rulings could also be appealed.

And if the Chicago appeals panel overrules Randa, the investigation can resume.

"Once the Court of Appeals decides the merits of the case and if no party appeals the Court of Appeals’ decision, then it may be possible to say that the cases are over — unless the case is returned to the trial court or John Doe Judge for further litigation," said Berghahn.

Said Blinka: “The governor’s remark overlooks the role of the appellate courts. The final resolution is up to the appellate courts, and only when the appellate process has run its course will we have a final resolution.”

It’s notable that at times during his governorship, Walker has been in the position of supporting appeals when a lower-court ruling has gone against him.

In 2012, when judges struck down parts of Walker’s Act 10 — the law ending most collective bargaining for most public employees — the state appealed, and higher courts so far have upheld the law.

And on same-sex marriage, which Walker opposes, he didn’t concede that a ban on gay marriages was dead when a federal judge found Wisconsin’s ban unconstitutional. Indeed, he’s backing the state’s appeal of the judge’s ruling.

Similarly, the status of the Doe case is being hammered out in the appeals process.

Our rating

Walker said the secret John Doe criminal investigation of his campaign has been “resolved” and two judges have said it is “over.”

His characterization is misleading at best. The investigation has been stopped, for now, under one judge’s ruling.

But the second ruling, while a serious blow, did not end the probe, and in any event prosecutors have appealed the two rulings Walker mentioned.

We rate Walker’s statement False.

h/t: PolitiFact Wisconsin

Hopefully he gets his ass voted out of office in November. Vote for Mary Burke (D)!!! 
h/t: :Philip Bump at WaPo’s The Fix

Iowa radio host Steve Deace was on Larry Pratt’s Gun Owner’s News Hour last week to promote his new electoral strategy book, “Rules for Patriots.” The two spent quite a bit of time lavishing praise on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for his crusade to bust his state’s public-sector unions.

Deace shared his theory that that public-sector unions are one of the “four pillars of the leftist, statist, Marxist movement,” along with “the child-killing industry, the homosexual lobby” and “government education” (which is “how they get the next generation to indoctrinate them”).

He praised Walker for removing “one of the four pillars,” namely “the worker bees, the grassroots, the mobocracy, the ‘Hail Satan’ chanters down in Texas last year, that’s the government-sector employee unions.” Deace apparently thinks that five anonymous teenagers yelling “hail Satan” at a pro-choice protest in Texas means that all public employees are Satanists.

Deace counseled Republicans against supporting any GOP politician who supports any one of the “four pillars.”

Pratt agreed, adding that the public-sector employees, including teachers’ unions, that protested at the Wisconsin state capitol in 2011 were “such ugly, dirty people” that nobody would want teaching their children.

Deace: There are four pillars of the leftist, statist, Marxist movement in America: the child-killing industry, the homosexual lobby, government education – that’s sort of their youth ministry, that’s how they get the next generation to indoctrinate them. The homosexual lobby and the abortion industry is where they get their mega, mega hundreds of millions to fund their schemes. But the worker bees, the grassroots, the mobocracy, the ‘Hail Satan’ chanters down in Texas last year, that’s the government-sector employee unions. And if you cut them off, that’s like cutting off the recruiting ability of a college football team. That’s the lifeblood of their program is those government-sector employee unions.

And if you do some of the math, I think the average annual union due in Wisconsin is like $1,500 a year for an AFSCME member. And if they truly lost 40,000 members, Larry, 40,000 times 1,500, you can pretty much buy the Wisconsin state government every year for that kind of money. And to have him cut off the head of the snake like that, he removed one of the four pillars. He’s maybe the only elected Republican in my lifetime I can think of who’s actually removed one of their pillars. And now you know why they have done everything they can possibly do to get rid of him.

And I would just say to your audience, if you’re supporting a Republican who doesn’t threaten at least one of those pillars, you’re wasting your time. If you’re supporting a Republican who aids and abets or collaborates with one of those four pillars, I don’t care how good he is on every other issue, he’s actually working for your opponent. Because that’s the infrastructure of the American left, those four facets.

Pratt: When Scott Walker had those union thugs lying all over the lobby of the capitol dome, the capitol building itself, they were such ugly, dirty people. ‘Those were teaching my kids?,’ I think people might have been thinking. They lost so much stature, it was just amazing what was happening.

From the 04.12.2014 edition of Republic Broadcasting Network’s Gun Owner’s News Hour:

 h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA

(via questionall)

quickhits:

Walker blames protests for crap economy his policies have created.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Asked Thursday about new numbers showing Wisconsin lagging in job growth, Gov. Scott Walker pointed to the uncertainty he said business owners felt because of the political tumult that rocked Wisconsin early in his term.

Meanwhile, his critics said the governor’s policies had created a drag on growth.

“The first year we had a lot of protests in the state,” Walker said, during an appearance in Milwaukee to promote business growth in the city. “We had two years’, almost, worth of recalls. A lot of employers here I think can relate to the fact (that) uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges for employers big or small or anywhere in between. There was a lot of uncertainty. The good news is that’s passed.”

And that’s why no business ever hires in any democracy at all, right? I mean, you move your business to some state and then they go and have an election and you don’t know who they’re going to pick! The uncertainty makes for a completely terrible business environment. Every two years there’s a different government and the uncertainty caused by that just scares the living crap out of business owners.

Yeah, that’s not a very good excuse.

The better explanation is that trickle-down economics sucks as much as economists say it does. Walker’s been attacking workers and the poor, which amounts to a War on Consumer Demand. The message businesses have been getting out of Wisconsin isn’t “Ooh, we’ve got scary protests and the government might change someday. Too many elections, run away!” it’s “Come to Wisconsin, where taxes are low and customers are broke.”

“The plunge in job growth, compared with other states, coincides exactly with Scott Walker’s time in office,” says Jack Norman, one-time research director of the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future. “This is no mere coincidence… Act 10 led to large cuts in public workers’ take-home pay, which was a blow to the state’s economy.”

Slash workers pay = slash consumer demand. It’s cause and effect and it’s inevitable. Walker isn’t offering an explanation, he’s making excuses. And the fact that he doesn’t plan to change his fiscal course should tell you everything you need to know about how serious the Wisconsin Governor is when it comes to serving his state. He’s not. He’s serious about preserving his wingnut purity by serving a failed ideology. He’s serious about winning the Crazy Person in America contest that will be the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

[photo by Gage Skidmore]

The nearly three-year-old John Doe investigation into aides and associates of Gov. Scott Walker is closed, the judge who is overseeing that probe said Friday.

Neal Nettesheim, a retired state appeals court judge, said he entered an order Feb. 21 concluding the probe. The decision was made public after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm concluded paperwork in the case.

No new charges will come from the John Doe investigation, Nettesheim said.

Chisholm confirmed the end of the investigation in a statement. “After a review of the John Doe evidence, I am satisfied that all charges that are supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt have now been brought and concluded. As a consequence, last week my office petitioned for, and Judge Nettesheim has granted, the closure of the John Doe investigation.”

Milwaukee prosecutors launched a secret John Doe investigation into aides and associates of Walker nearly three years ago. Walker’s chief of staff contacted prosecutors over suspicions that more than the $11,000 was missing from Operation Freedom, a fund used to pay for an annual event to honor veterans and their families.

The investigation later was broadened into other areas, including another embezzlement case involving Operation Freedom money and two county employees in Walker’s office doing campaign work while at their taxpayer-paid county jobs.

Longtime Walker aide Timothy D. Russell pleaded guilty Nov. 29 to stealing more than $21,000 in Operation Freedom money. He was sentenced to two years in prison in January. Kelly Rindfleisch, who worked for Walker in the county executive’s office in 2010, was sentenced Nov. 19 to six months in jail for campaign fundraising at the courthouse using a secret email system installed there.

Democratic Party officials were still critical of the Republican governor, even though he was not charged in the probe.

"That Scott Walker avoided prosecution is no feather in his cap," Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said. "He clearly was connected to criminal activity and he spent a half million dollars, through his unprecedented criminal defense fund, to waylay charges. The crimes convicted flow directly from Scott Walker’s belief that he is above the law."

BULLSHIT!

H/T: JSonline.com

MADISON, Wis. — A judge has rejected the state of Wisconsin’s request to put on hold his earlier ruling striking down large portions of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious collective bargaining law.

Dane County District Judge Juan Colas on Monday released his ruling rejecting the request for a stay.

Colas in September ruled the law stripping most public workers of nearly all their union rights violates teachers and local government workers’ free speech, free association and equal protection rights.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen had asked for a stay while he appeals. 

h/t: Huffington Post

Suck it, Walker!

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin judge has struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled Friday that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The ruling comes after a lawsuit brought by the Madison teachers union and a union for Milwaukee city employees.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie says he is confident the decision will be overturned on appeal.

h/t: Yahoo! News

Wisconsin state Sen. Tim Cullen has reconciled with the Democratic caucus and Majority Leader Mark Miller, after Cullen bolted the caucus earlier this week in a dispute over thecommittee chairmanships.

Cullen will co-chair a Special Committee on Mining, and chair a new Committee on Small Business and Venture Capital.

h/t: TPM LiveWire

Wisconsin held a series of recall elections over the course of a year, giving voters a chance to decide whether they approved of one-party rule by Governor Scott Walker and his anti-labor Republicans.

For most of the national media, the only story that mattered—at least the only story they’ve bothered to tell—is that of Walker’s victory. Thanks to a massive infusion of our-of-state cash, the governor retained his office—albeit by the narrowest re-elect margin for a Republican governor since 1968.

But Wisconsinites always knew there was more to the story of the fight to check and balance Walker. And, this week, they successfully completed the critical struggle, ending the governor’s complete control of state government.

From his election in 2010, Walker controlled not just the executive branch but, for all intents and purposes, the legislative branch. A pair of loyal Republican lieutenants, brothers Jeff and Scott Fitzgerald, made sure that the governor’s wish was their command—with Jeff Fitzgerald running the state Assembly as its speaker and Scott Fitzgerald running the state Senate as its majority leader.

Without the Fitzgerald brothers, Walker could not have advanced his agenda.

When Walker was elected, Republican control of both chambers seemed to be assured for the whole of his first two years. That was particularly true in the powerful state Senate, where the GOP held a wide 19-14 advantage. The only power the Democrats had was that of withdrawing consent by leaving the state, as the fourteen dissenters did when Walker began moving to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees.

On June 5, Walker won the governor’s race. But one of his steadiest backers, state Senator Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, finished roughly 800 votes behind Democratic challenger John Lehman.

Lehman, a former legislator with a progressive, strongly pro-labor record, campaigned as a firm foe of Walker’s agenda. And national right-wing groups such as the Koch brothers–funded Americans for Prosperity operation did everything in their power to beat him. They even organized a massive final rally in southeastern Wisconsin’s 21st district, featuring House Budget Committee chair (and conservative icon) Paul Ryan.

Even after Lehman won, the Republicans fought to prevent him from taking his seat, with an extended recount fight, threats of legal actions and a smear campaign suggesting that his victory (in a district with a substantial minority population) resulted from “voting irregularities” in African-American and Hispanic precincts of the historically Democratic city of Racine.

For a time it seemed the GOP would do anything to prevent Walker from losing his iron grip on state government.

Ultimately, however, Lehman prevailed. And, on Tuesday, after he was seated, control of the Senate formally shifted to the Democrats, with progressive Mark Miller taking over from Scott Fitzgerald as majority leader and Fred Risser, the longest-serving legislator in the country and a progressive stalwart, taking over as Senate president.

H/T: John Nichols at The Nation

More than a month after his Wisconsin recall election, Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard has conceded his race — sort of.

Wanggaard still believes voter fraud was a factor in the race, which gave Democrats a majority in the chamber — a small consolation prize after the party failed to oust Gov. Scott Walker.

“Unfortunately, I only have 5 days from the end of the recount to develop a case to challenge the count of the election,” Wanggaard said in a statement Tuesday. “This is not enough time to fully investigate the mountains of evidence and answer the questions that have arisen.”

Wanggaard comes close to a concession: “The count of the ballots — those cast appropriately and those that may not have been — shows my opponent with more votes.”

After the votes were first fully canvassed, Wanggaard lost to Democratic former state Sen. John Lehman, in a rematch from 2010 for the Racine-based seat. Wanggaard demanded a recount, which narrowed Lehman’s lead to 819 votes.

Wanggaard said he will run for the seat again in 2014: “As General Douglas MacArthur once said, ‘I shall return.’”

Republicans have charged that fraud contributed to Lehman’s win, but have not provided any clear evidence.

Lehman’s win lifts Democrats to a 17-16 majority in the state Senate. The legislature is out of regular session for the year. Half of the chamber is up for re-election in November, when Democrats will have to play defense on a new map drawn by Republican lawmakers.

h/t: Eric Kleefeld at TPM

Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard requested a recount Friday in his Wisconsin recall race, after the final canvassed results showed him losing in last week’s election to former Democratic state Sen. John Lehman, in a rematch of their 2010 race.

Lehman leads by 834 votes out of nearly 72,000 cast in the Racine-based district, a margin of 1.2 percent. The apparent win gives Democrats a new 17-16 majority in the state Senate — a symbolic silver lining for the party after its failure to unseat Gov. Scott Walker the same night.

The legislature is out of regular session for the year. Half of the chamber is up for reelection this November, when Democrats will have to play defense on a new map drawn by Republican lawmakers.

h/t: Eric Kleefeld at TPM