Pressure increases to post Walker recall petitions
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Pressure increased Tuesday for the Wisconsin state elections board to post online the petitions seeking to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
The Government Accountability Board gave Walker's campaign electronic copies of the petitions containing an estimated 1 million signatures on Friday and promised to post them online for the public to see Monday.
But that was indefinitely delayed when domestic violence victims expressed concern over their names and addresses being released, said board spokesman Reid Magney. He did not comment Tuesday on when or if the signatures would be posted.
The decision drew a strong backlash from some key Republicans, including Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who issued a statement Tuesday saying the signatures should be made public.
"The integrity of the election process depends on openness and transparency," Van Hollen said. "I believe the public should have access to the recall petitions. If there are any issues about disclosure, we are ready to work with GAB to resolve those issues so that as much information as possible can be made available as soon as possible."
Van Hollen said later at a news conference that even though the law doesn't require the petitions to be put online, it is the easiest way to let the public access them. He said attorneys from the Department of Justice were meeting with staff from the GAB to discuss the issue.
Van Hollen said he did not believe any signatures should be redacted and petition signers, including domestic violence victims, have no expectation of privacy.
State Sen. Mary Lazich, a Republican from New Berlin who chairs the Senate's elections committee, also called for the petitions to be posted.
"The GAB needs to follow through on its responsibility and post the petitions online immediately," Lazich said.
The board has treated recall petitions and candidate nomination papers as open records. It has already posted online petitions that target four Republican state senators for recall. Last year, it posted petitions against nine incumbent state senators. It is still working on processing petitions targeting Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch for recall.
Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski didn't have a problem with the board not posting the Walker signatures as promised on Monday.
"Since our understanding is that this does not delay the process, we are supportive of GAB's efforts to take steps to address the concerns raised by victim's rights groups about the privacy of their addresses," Zielinski said.
The board's delay hasn't stopped Walker and the state Republican Party from starting its own independent review. They have until Feb. 26 to contest any of the signatures. The board has until March 19 to complete its review.
Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks said more than 2,000 volunteers had signed up to review the signatures in 13 offices across the state. He said "numerous" potentially fraudulent signatures had been found, but he wouldn't comment on whether he thought there would be enough to disqualify the recall election.
It takes 540,208 signatures to force an election. Recall organizers said they turned in about 1 million signatures against Walker, which means about 460,000 would have to be tossed in order to halt the recall.
Walker isn't taking chances. He's been busy campaigning, spending millions on television ads and raising unprecedented amounts of money. Since January 2011, he has raised $12.1 million, the most ever by a candidate for state office in Wisconsin.
Two Democrats, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and state Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville, have said they will run against Walker, and numerous other Democrats are considering it.