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State Officials Say Holding Onto Signed Walker Recall Petitions Is Illegal

Local man says he's turning in the 150 signatures he collected saying that his plan to shred the ballots was wrong.

A group trying to sabotage efforts to recall Gov. Scott Walker sparked outrage from the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

Officials with the Government Accountability Board also said collecting petitions and not turning them into the recall committees is illegal.

that a local man, who wished to remain anonymous, and at least two others, had collected signatures for the recall petition. In order to derail the recall effort, the unnamed source initially said he planned to shred them and then he said he was going to hold on to them; but now the source said he plans to turn them into the Government Accountability Board because he doesn’t think it’s the right thing to do to keep them.

But state officials said the petitions need to be turned into the appropriate recall committees, not the GAB, and the recall committee needs to collect and turn all of the petitions into the GAB all at the same time.

The man, who collected 150 signatures on Nov. 15, said he plans to turn them into the Government Accountability Board. One other person is also going to turn his in and they are going to convince a third person to do the same.

"It’s not the right thing to do, we should have known better," the unnamed source said. "The whole thing wasn’t our idea. It’s something we just stumbled on and we did it, 24 hours later we realized that it’s not a good thing to do. I’ve been thinking about it and it’s just not right. But when I think about what’s been going on all year with the protests, and what this has been doing to people, families, and friends…is making normal people do really stupid things and feel stupid things. And it’s crazy. It's absolutely crazy."

However, he told Patch that he was told there were over 1,000 people involved with the effort.

Reid Magney, public information officer with the Government Accountability Board, said the man’s actions could constitute fraud, but he does not have any specific evidence that the man had committed fraud.

"I don’t want to pass judgment on this man because I don’t know specifically what he has or hasn’t done," Magney said.

Magney offered the following advice to people who may believe they signed a petition that may not get turned in:

“If someone signed what they think is an illegitimate petition or one that was circulated by a person not on the up and up, that person can sign more than one petition,” Magney said. “There is no prohibition on signing more than once. It’s up to the recall committee to weed out possible duplicates.”

Magney added that he has had discussions with district attorney’s about the issues, but he couldn’t comment on which district attorney’s he has talked to.

“We take this very seriously,” Magney said. “We hope that local law enforcement officials will have the time to prosecute these cases if it becomes an issue.”

Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said people who don’t want to see Gov. Scott Walker recalled trying to sabotage the petition process are committing a felony. 

“There is no gray area here,” Zielinski said. “What they are doing is highly illegal.”

Zielinski said the issue isn’t in the destruction of the petitions, but rather it’s the creation of doubt and fear.

“They want legitimate circulators to be turned away,” he said. “But we think this involves a very small number of people…. Our message to the public is: don’t let this intimidate you. You can sign a petition more than once if you think you have signed a petition that someone may have destroyed, and you aren’t violating the law.”

Zielinski called for the Wisconsin Department of Justice to look into the group collecting these signatures with the intent of either destroying them or holding onto them.

“If these folks have ties to the Republican or TEA party, they need to look at themselves at the top,” Zielinski said.

However, Bill Folk, chairman of the Racine County Republican Party and Lora Halberstadt, of the Racine TEA Party, have denounced the man's actions and both said they don't condone interfering in the petition process.

*This version of the story corrects and clarifies Reid Magney's statements about how petitions need to be turned by the recall committees into state officials, that his staff have spoken directly to several district attorney's offices, and that while the man's actions could constitute fraud, he had no evidence of wrongdoing.

CowDung November 18, 2011 at 07:02 PM
How exactly are the petitioners supposed to weed out duplicate signatures before turning them in? Are you expecting people to sign several times with the same petitioner?
robert heule November 18, 2011 at 07:24 PM
@Bob, It isn't a matter of being sore losers. No Republican Governor, Lee Sherman Dreyfus or even Tommy Thompson would in addition to extreme policy, engage in confrontational politics. Walker looks for trouble with the Democratic minority. Wisconsin has a lot of independent who will not tolerate his Tea Party extremism. Even the Fitzgerald brothers are slowly shying from him and out of control Senator Mary Lazich.What does banning the teaching about contraceptives have to to with creating jobs. Also, the Lazich bill to hold the senatorial recall elections under new districts was canned by Speaker Fitzgerald. before it got out of the bill jacket. We Democrats would not have even thought of a recall if Walker had conducted himself in the manner that Dreyfus did. There was truly an example of bi-partisan cooperation then, even though it took a long a long legislative session to reach that accomplishment. Relief is on the way.
CowDung November 18, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Those sound like 'sore loser' claims to me...
Randy1949 November 18, 2011 at 07:39 PM
@Robert Heule -- "What does banning the teaching about contraceptives have to to with creating jobs." More nannies, daycare workers, cops and prison guards needed down the road? This really does not affect me, since I think it's the job of every parent to teach their children about the mechanics of procreation and sexual morality. But some parents don't and they're usually the parents of the very kids you don't want reproducing. That's why the job falls to the schools. You're right -- this has less to do with improving the state's economy than it does about promoting a conservative social agenda.
Bob McBride November 18, 2011 at 07:41 PM
robert, part of the time he was looking across the state line for "trouble" with the Democratic minority. You want to hang this all on Walker, your guys have engaged in more troubling behavior on a whole than has the majority. This is about nothing, absolutely nothing, more than seeing an opportunity to attempt a giant across-the-board mulligan for your losses in the last election. You guys were still so high off the fumes of the 2008 elections that it caught you off guard and, rather than go back and reevaluate what caused you that loss in the first place, your almost immediate reaction was to howl about it it out in the streets and then attempt a bunch of redoes. You're nothing more than a bunch of spoiled rotten children who pout and scream and kick and spit and insist you get your way. This is what you turn into when, as a whole, you subscribe to a victim mentality. The premise is as childish as are the actions. Grow the heck up.
PJS November 18, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Easy answer, sign every single petition you possibly can! like I will ! Your signature will get turned in at least once then. Let them decipher the duplicates.
Bob McBride November 18, 2011 at 07:47 PM
When Republicans are in office they pursue conservative agendas. When Democrats are in office they pursue liberal agendas. Where have you two guys been for the last 40-50 years or so? That's pretty much the way it's been for as long as I can remember. This is so ludicrous as to be laughable. On the one hand you guys can't wait to utilize extraordinary measures to run Walker out of office. On the other, you're absolutely incensed that Republicans don't want Obama to be re-elected. Honest to G-d I think it's time we started running some pee tests on you guys. Something is severely interfering with your abilities to think logically.
CowDung November 18, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Sounds like they are going to have to collect millions of signatures then to be sure of having enough once the duplicates are all weeded out...
Bob McBride November 18, 2011 at 07:48 PM
I rest my case.
Linda Binder November 18, 2011 at 08:29 PM
There's no need to sign multiple petitions. Go to the United Wisconsin link and download your own petition to sign and mail in. You can always gather a few more signatures from your neighbors that way too. http://www.unitedwisconsin.com/
Morninmist Same November 19, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Bob The point ot Linda Binder's post as I see it is that Walker is a hypocrite. He was originally For recalls when it suited his agenda but no he is not not.
Morninmist Same November 19, 2011 at 09:41 PM
Cowdung For you for ask a question like that makes you look silly and stupid. I know you do not live under a rock as you keep up with the news. But seems either you are stupid or your love for All things Walker keeps you from reading certain news items. CowDung 10:32am on Friday, November 18, 2011 Has Walker recently made speeches against recalls or something?
Morninmist Same November 19, 2011 at 09:50 PM
DonnaGenzmer DonnaGenzmer MT @MadPolitics: United Wisconsin reports they have compiled more than 105,000 signatures to recall Gov. Walker in 4 days #wirecall #wiunion 25 minutes ago Thank you Wisconsin. Progress2day America United RT @wheresmyporsche: RT @bluecheddar1: Speaker says-Over 49K #WI residents @ this rally #WIrecall #Madison #wiunion 2 minutes ago YoProWI Young Progressives A video of the student pre-rally at State Street Mall: youtu.be/X0RJdKOCTDA #wiunion #wirecall #recallwalker 9 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
Bob McBride November 19, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Where has Scott Walker said he's against recalls in general, Morninmist? Point me to the quote. Otherwise you're not making a valid point either.
paul hruz November 20, 2011 at 02:33 PM
@Morninmist, What can they charge him with collecting singnatures and turning them in? If I carry a steak around Sendiks thinking about stealing it but then buy it can they arrest me for theft?
paul hruz November 20, 2011 at 02:39 PM
It's an unnamed man and unnamed sources,that's good enough for the libs
Mary DeBattista November 22, 2011 at 01:34 AM
We're to take something on Vicki McKenna's website as an absolute? Hee-hee. She's the National Enquirer of political news. You made me laugh, though, so good for you!
Mary DeBattista November 22, 2011 at 01:37 AM
"I applaud him for coming forward." He didn't "come forward," Morninmist, he got caught. Big difference.
Brian Dey November 22, 2011 at 03:34 AM
Not impressed' should be at least 25% in one week to have a chance.
Brian Dey November 22, 2011 at 03:35 AM
He was a democrat plant, plain and simple.
John Doe November 23, 2011 at 02:26 PM
that a local man, who wished to remain anonymous, and at least two others, had collected signatures for the recall petition----- This is because they don’t want us to see who they contribute to and that they are a part of a certain party this is just plain ignorant news but keep riding that wave!
John Doe November 23, 2011 at 03:54 PM
I wouldn’t claim he got caught either if he was caught we would have his name to see more about him. He wanted this out and I smell a political tactic here.
James R Hoffa November 23, 2011 at 05:15 PM
@AWD - You're even more poetic than Hank Williams Jr. and dead on with all your assessments! Better at a nascar race than all over the Patch ads asking us to join Barack – I was getting sick of that! Good call! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that for at least one day out of the year, just maybe you won't be so angry :-)
SCgal November 24, 2011 at 10:23 PM
EXACTLY!
Debbie November 25, 2011 at 05:33 PM
He didn't advocate for signing more than one petition. He said if you think you signed a fraudulent petition, you can sign another. Brian, it's just another lame excuse to make Republicans look better than Democrats. There is NO excuse for tearing up signatures that should be represented in this recall. Really I wish you people would get your heads out of your butts.
Debbie November 25, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Bob, you must have been one of those little kids who always used the excuse "Well THEY did it too!" when you got caught. Some people never grow up.
Debbie November 25, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Oh you must be forgetting about all those phoney Republicans that ran in the recall elections this summer? I voted Republican for 30 years and never in a million years would have thought they could be so distasteful or deceitful. My next 30 years will be Democrat.
Debbie November 25, 2011 at 05:42 PM
I remember seeing Mickey Mouse on the tea party recalls of Democrat Dave Hansen in Green Bay. Oh no, Republicans don't do that!!
Debbie November 25, 2011 at 05:44 PM
The only numbskull I see in this article is the guy who planned on denying 150 people their legal right to be heard. Great job twisting this story to make it look any other way.
Bob McBride November 25, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Debbie, meet Bren (see above).

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