Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and the state Republican Party director sued the state’s elections and ethics agency in Waukesha on Thursday over its handling of duplicate and bogus signatures in the ongoing recall effort against the governor. The top GOP lawmaker in the Assembly also took a shot at the Government Accountability Board – which he voted to create – saying it had strayed from its nonpartisan mission and might need to be replaced.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Waukesha County Circuit Court asks a judge to order the accountability board to look for and eliminate duplicate signatures, clearly fake names and illegible addresses. The lawsuit can be brought in one of the most conservative counties in the state because of a change in state law earlier this year by Republican lawmakers and Walker that allowed lawsuits to be brought against the state outside liberal Dane County, the seat of state government.
The lawsuit says allowing multiple signatures is a violation of the equal protection clauses of the state and U.S. constitutions.
“The decision of one individual who chooses to sign a recall petition should not carry more weight than the decision of another who chooses not to sign,” said Stephan Thompson, executive director of the state Republican Party and a plaintiff in the case. “This lawsuit seeks to protect the Wisconsin electors whose voices have been trumped by those purposefully signing multiple petitions.”
The accountability board has said it’s up to challengers to point out problems like those and the board itself cannot automatically toss the signatures for those reasons.
“The plaintiffs are challenging the rules that have been established by statutes and administrative code, and which have been in place since the late 1980s. Since then, these rules have been used in every state and local recall petition effort against incumbents of both parties,” accountability board director Kevin Kennedy said.
Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said the lawsuit wouldn’t end the effort to gather recall signatures against the governor.