Sunday, September 18, 2016

Other WisGOP sketchiness in John Doe- absentee "balloting"

Today's good Sunday reading involves a long article from the Wisconsin State Journal's Matt DeFour. In this piece, DeFour uses this week's release of the documents from the John Doe investigation to describe the Wisconsin GOP's political operation in 2011 and 2012, allowing them to maintain their Senate majority through much of that time, and allowing Scott Walker to be retained as Governor.

Beyond the descriptions of the WisGOP/ Club for Growth money laundering operation and centralization of controls, this passage grabbed my attention.

Two days after the last [State Senate] recall, in mid-August [2011], Walker thanked donors for their "quick and very generous response to our call for help" which enabled them "to frame the debate and define our opponents before they had a chance to define themselves."

They had raised about $12 million for Club for Growth, which coordinated spending through 12 different groups, and conducted opposition research, polling, focus groups, message development and an absentee ballot program.

Johnson noted that with a funding assist from the Club, religious and family groups and gun right activists helped process thousands of absentee ballot requests through a central operation. The Club also sent 3.5 million pieces of issue-specific mail to targeted voters, while running "generic television ads talking about the progress made balancing the state budget without raising taxes or cutting essential programs" — with some places experiencing as much as eight weeks of "heavy network and cable television and radio."
Two obvious questions come from these 3 paragraphs.

First, what does Walker mean by "our call for help." Wisconsin Club for Growth was supposed to be disassociated from the Walker campaign and other groups by law. And as a tax-exempt organization, it is supposed to spend at least half of its funds outside of politics. You wanna know why the IRS looked into these groups, and you want to know why the Koch-heads in the House of Representatives are talking about impeaching the IRS commissioner? THIS IS WHY, because organizations like Wisconsin Club for Growth are cheating the tax code and being fraudulent over what they are. Which isn't unlike most money-laundering "fronts", now that I think of it.

But the second part is what really perked my ears up, and I also took note of that part of the Doe docs when they came out Wednesday. I want to know how these absentee ballots were "processed?" Did they pick up the filled-out ballot from the fundies' and gun nuts' houses? Did they send out absentee ballots to those people (and how would they get absentee ballots from the City Clerk's office as a third party)? Seriously, how do we know those "gun and family" voters actually voted, and actually checked the box for the candidates that they were recorded as voting for?

Or is there a more evil reason behind the WisGOP/Club for Growth absentee ballot operation? Take a look at what investigative journalist Greg Palast (who just appeared at Fighting Bob Fest in Madison this weekend) discussed 4 years go.
GP: I was just up in Baraboo, Wisconsin this week, and in Baraboo Obama won by 28%. That’s a crush, right? And yet, in the recall vote, Scott Walker won it big time. (Jake's note- Palast is confusing the City of Baraboo and Town of Baraboo, but there are still huge differences in the Obama 2008 vs Walker 2012 vote. City of Baraboo went from Dem +28 to Dem +9, and Town of Baraboo went from Dem +11 to GOP +1).

Now, come on, how does that happen? Well, let me let you in on a little secret. The secret is called Themis. Themis is the Koch Brother’s magical vote munching machine. It’s a data mining operation. It does two things. It’s capable first of something that’s creepy but legal. They fill out ballots for their own voters, mail them and tell them to sign it. It’s all perfect so they’re beyond challenge. So their voters are all taken care of basically, they’ve already been voted for if they sign.

Then, the Themis machine is capable of doing all the caging, all the challenging, the purging, and the blocking at the polls to keep away the voters. For example, if I went by the Brennan Center numbers, and these are experts and therefore no one listens to them, but if you do listen to the screaming, screeching, buried experts, 97,000 Wisconsinites, almost all of them students, were barred from voting because they lacked state ID. Even though they had state student ID, that’s not state ID.

But that wasn’t enough for the Themis machine. The Koch Operation, Americans for Prosperity, had its Chief set up a front called United Sportsmen of Wisconsin. United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, which appeared and then instantly vanished after the recall vote, using the Themis machine, were able to identify likely Democratic absentee voters in key recall areas. (United Sportsmen were later revealed to be a GOP fraud, leading to the resignation of GOP Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder). Because there were also votes, by the way, on legislatures. The Themis machine was able to get the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin to identify Democratic voters, send them letters saying here’s where you mail in your ballot, and here’s the deadline. The address was a phony, it was their own, and the date was after the legal date for submitting an absentee ballot. So, either way, you were fucked like a duck. The Sportsmen basically were hunting Democrats. That’s how it worked. And again, as Bobby Kennedy says – he’s Dean of Law School at Pace University – this is a crime. And it’s a double crime when you add in the fact that most of this is racially targeted.
And the Wisconsin GOP has the nerve to "message about Dem voter fraud"? How we do know there was no GOP fraud as part of this operation, either in artificially driving up "turnout" for GOP votes, or in suppressing Dem votes?

And might this be why we've seen Republicans in state races consistently overperform exit polls? The last 2 Walker "elections" have had predictions of a "long night" due to dead-even exit polls, but end up quickly turning into a 5-6% Walker win called early in the evening. Also recall how Rebecca Bradley ended up allegedly winning this April's Supreme Court race, despite Election Night exit polls reporting JoAnne Kloppenburg leading 54-46.

All fo this may be just me talking out my ass, and maybe the GOPs are just better than Dems at working the absentee ballot system. But the numbers continue not to add up here, and it requires more explanation. The more you untangle the threads in John Doe, a whole lot of added questions keep coming up, and it calls into question the legitimacy of the entire state government of Wisconsin.

By the way, can you tell me the difference between the Wisconsin GOP machine and the mob? Well, other than the mob actually doing some things that might help everyday people and their community?


  1. Any clues yet to what "processing" absentee ballots really meant?

    1. Seems like it could be anything from sending reminder cards to have voters contact the city clerk for a ballot, and then checking to see if the ballots were sent in, so they could contact only those who hand't voted on Election Day. Or it could be that the groups were the ones that the ballots were sent to as a central repository, and then sent on.

      Or it's cheating via suppression and false filling out. Probably one of these 3.

      I definitely want to hear more how this worked,

    2. Last week I received an unsolicited Voter Registration Application from the NRA Freedom Action Foundation's Trigger the Vote effort. I thought it was quite strange, as I am a staunch Democrat.

      The return address is the (defunct) Government Accountability Board, even though registration forms are actually supposed to be mailed to municipal clerks.

      So somebody fills out this form, mails it to GAB, and thinks he/she is registered to vote when in fact the registration can't be processed. The unknowing applicant shows up at the polls but doesn't have the necessary documentation to do same-day registration. What are the chances that he/she is going to go home and get the required information and come back to vote?

      Guess that's why they're targeting Democrats.

    3. Anon- Interesting you bring this up, as the new Elections Commission just released a note on those NRA mailers, because they are getting them and they are not supposed to.

      As you mention, you should only send absentee forms to your local municipal clerk. Anything else is at best going to take extra time, if not outright get "lost."

      On a related note, the Elections Commission will soon mail out things to people and addresses not listed as registered. So look for that, but make sure it's coming from the Elections Commission and not a dirty trick