Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan hired a law firm using up to $800,000 in taxpayer money to help his administration navigate through a throng of civil and criminal investigations. Both candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have called for him to resign. On Thursday he faces a grilling by a congressional committee in Washington. And as voters went to the polls on the state’s Primary Day last Tuesday, a group led by a Detroit pastor began an effort to recall him in a statewide referendum, a repeat of the movement that in 2012 targeted a fellow Republican, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. For a man who swept into office in 2010 by promoting his résumé as a no-nonsense accountant and businessman who was above politics, Governor Snyder now finds himself in the middle of the kind of bitter partisan warfare that he has long disdained. Many Michigan voters now blame him for how he handled two of the state’s biggest debacles, the tainted water crisis in Flint and the tattered Detroit public schools.
The stunning success of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential race suggests that American voters are very restless, and very displeased with the political status quo. That’s certainly true. But it’s also nothing new. And perhaps no statistic shows this better than the continuing popularity of recall elections. For the fifth year in a row, more than 100 officials across the U.S. have either faced an actual recall vote or resigned in the face of such a threat. The use of the recall may in some ways be seen as a product of an empowered, technologically connected, and occasionally enraged electorate. After all, for the better part of the 20th century, the recall was an almost forgotten relic of the Progressive Era. But no more. As we saw in Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012, and Colorado in 2013, recalls have become a major part of the political landscape. And when they get on the ballot, they work. This year, 108 recalls got on the ballot or led to a resignation. Of those 108, 65 officials were ousted, and 15 resigned. Only 28 survived the voters’ wrath.
Illinois: State Representative Introduces Bill To Create Recall Mechanism For Chicago Mayor | CBS Chicago
The protesters calling for the ouster of Mayor Rahm Emanuel have been stifled because there is no mechanism to do so but, a member of the Illinois general assembly wants to change that with a bill that would provide a way to call a special election to recall the mayor of Chicago. “The people have lost confidence in the mayor and until he can regain confidence, we have to have something in place that we can try to bring the city together,” said Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-8th District). The bill proposes that a recall election can be initiated by a petition with signatures totaling at least 15 percent of the total votes cast in the previous mayoral election. It would need at least 50 votes from each ward in Chicago and must be signed by at least two aldermen.
Colorado: Jefferson County recall ballot timeline draws concerns from Colorado Secretary of State | The Denver Post
Colorado’s secretary of state has concerns about how Jefferson County will pull off having a recall election on the regular November election ballot. After Jefferson County Clerk Faye Griffin announced Thursday that the recall of three school board members would be placed on the general election ballot Nov. 3, Secretary of State Wayne Williams sent a letter asking for more details. “Your limited window for setting the recall election date presents challenges no matter which date you choose,” Williams wrote. “Because of this timeline you will need near-optimal circumstances to place both recall and coordinated content on the same ballot and meet the ballot-mailing deadline for the coordinated election.”
Editorials: John Doe Decision – After Doe investigations, a chance for sensible reform | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
A 4-2 state Supreme Court decision last month ended a controversial investigation into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election campaign and conservative groups and left a broad swath of Wisconsin’s long-standing campaign finance law unconstitutional. The court’s decision halted the second of two criminal investigations into Walker led by Milwaukee County prosecutors using the state’s powerful “John Doe” statutes. The first led to the convictions of six Walker aides, associates or appointees but the second was stalled by litigation for more than a year amid bitter complaints from conservatives about prosecutors’ tactics and theory of law. Even if the final chapter of these investigations is now at hand, many questions remain. Among the most important: Should two of the justices whose campaigns received heavy support from the groups under investigation and involved as litigants before the court have heard the cases?
Editorials: Scott Walker’s Wisconsin and the End of Campaign-Finance Law | Lincoln Caplan/The New Yorker
When Scott Walker announced last week that he is running for President, he pledged to pursue a conservative agenda that will transfer power back to the states. “We need new, fresh leadership, leadership with big, bold ideas from outside of Washington,” Walker said. “The kind of leadership that knows how to get things done, like we’ve done here in Wisconsin.” A few days later, the conservative-dominated Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision that shows an important part of how he and his political allies have gotten things done. They have substituted the misrule of politics for the rule of law. By 4–2, with the four conservatives in the majority, a liberal and a moderate in dissent, and one justice recused, the court halted the John Doe criminal investigation into whether Walker’s successful campaign to retain his post in a 2012 recall election violated Wisconsin law, by coördinating fund-raising and spending with so-called “independent” dark-money groups, and avoiding disclosure of donors’ names. The court did so by rewriting the state law in question, so that the kind of coördination the campaign was being investigated for is now unrestricted in Wisconsin.
Presidential candidate Scott Walker won a major legal victory Thursday when Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ended a secret investigation into whether the Republican’s gubernatorial campaign illegally coordinated with conservative groups during the 2012 recall election. No one has been charged in the so-called John Doe probe, Wisconsin’s version of a grand jury investigation in which information is tightly controlled, but questions about the investigation have dogged Walker for months. Barring an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling makes Walker’s campaign that much smoother as he courts voters in early primary states.
Ohio: Election officials reject 98 percent of signatures on petitions to recall Cleveland Mayor | Cleveland Plain Dealer
An already long-shot effort to recall Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson was dealt a major blow on Wednesday after elections officials rejected more than 98 percent of the 12,887 signatures submitted by the group. Elections officials certified as valid only 260 signatures submitted by recall organizers on Saturday, the County Board of Elections said in a news release. The group needed 12,025 valid signatures from city residents who voted in the November 2013 election to force a recall election. The recall group, which calls itself the Cleveland: A Return to Excellence Committee, now has 20 days to attempt to collect the 11,765 more valid signatures. If the group fails a second time, it must start its effort over from the beginning.
Voting Blogs: Will the recall effort against the Ferguson Mayor pass judicial scrutiny? | The Recall Elections Blog
It looked like the recall of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles was “dead in the water” a couple of weeks ago. But times have changed. There is now a more concentrated — or at least much better publicized — effort to have Knowles kicked out. Signatures are starting to be collected and press reports note that petitioners need about 1800 signatures (15% of registereds) in 60 days. The move may simply be a way to pressure Knowles into resigning (a common result in a recall). But if Knowles doesn’t resign, there is an open question — and possibly conflicting statutes — as to whether he can be recalled for his leadership of the city. There may also be a question of how many signatures are actually needed for the recall. The problem here is that the state law may conflict with the local law.
For the past few months, a series of protests have targeted the homes of politicians, and Mayor James Knowles III figured his turn was coming soon, especially after Friday, when five residents filed an affidavit to remove him from office. And sure enough, about 6:45 a.m. Monday, roughly 10 protesters were outside his house, playing music along with sound bites of his own comments through a bullhorn. Knowles said he had warned his wife that if the protesters showed up at his door, he was going to open it, and so he did. “They were clearly not expecting that,” he said.