Attorneys for the Wisconsin board that oversees elections are not recommending whether recall petitions targeting three Democratic state senators should be rejected or accepted, leaving that determination to the panel of retired judges that will consider the issue Wednesday.
A memo to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board signed by its director, Kevin Kennedy, its lead attorney and other staff members released Tuesday addresses the complaints and discusses the evidence related to each one, but makes no recommendation on what to do.
Kennedy said the legal question over whether petitions targeting the three senators were fraudulent, and if so whether only parts or all of the petitions should be invalidated, was a legal determination that the board alone needed to make. The memo was designed to present them with the evidence and facts to help make their decision, Kennedy said.
If the board determines there was fraud, it will also have to consider whether to refer the case for criminal charges, Kennedy said.
The non-recommendation left petition circulators frustrated and angry.
Circulators of petitions targeting Sens. Dave Hansen of Green Bay and Jim Holperin of Conover said they hoped the board staff would have rejected the challenges and recommended that the recall elections be certified.
“Come on. What’s up with all of this?” said Kim Simac who circulated the petitions against Holperin and plans to run against him. “What are we waiting for?”
David Vanderleest, who circulated the petitions against Hansen, said the board wasn’t getting its work done and should be defunded by the Legislature.
Circulators of the petition to recall the third Democrat, Sen. Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. They planned a news conference Wednesday morning before the GAB meeting.
Gillian Morris, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party, said the party was “pleased the GAB staff took the mountains of evidence of election fraud seriously. Tomorrow the judges will be able to review the evidence of vast, systemic election fraud before they make their final decision.”
Democrats claim that out-of-state petition circulators committed widespread fraud, in some cases misrepresenting what the petitions were for and forging signatures, which should lead to their being invalidated. Petition circulators say the claims are ginned up and politically motivated in an attempt to block the elections.