February 7, 2016

Governor defends GAB lawsuit

In Senate recalls filed last summer, each campaign took up the task of reviewing the petitions filed with the state and making challenges against signatures. Now Republicans want the Government Accountability Board to do that work when petitions targeting Governor Scott Walker are filed later this month.

Governor Walker’s campaign and the state Republican Party have filed a lawsuit in Waukesha County that seeks to force the GAB to make sure signatures on the petitions are valid, and to strike any duplicate of false signatures as part of the review process. Walker says “the integrity of the process is compromised if there are individuals signing more than once” or “if someone is signing with a false name that doesn’t representing a legal voter in the state of Wisconsin.”

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:01)

GAB staff have said their only duty is to make sure each signature is complete and has a Wisconsin address with it, and that it’s up to the campaigns to file any challenges. Walker says that process worked fine last summer during the Senate recalls because there was not evidence people were signing multiple petitions, while media accounts this fall have indicated some people may have signed petitions multiple times.

Agency officials say being forced to strike signatures would significantly add to the cost of reviewing the recall petitions, with over 540,000 signatures expected to be turned in later this month. The GAB also argues such a review goes beyond what the law requires the agency to conduct.

When asked whether taxpayers should be forced to pay for the extra expense of a review process that’s much different than what was used last summer, Walker said “anybody upset with the cost should go back to the people pushing for the recall in the first place.”

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