September 21, 2014

Burke campaign accused of ‘plagiarizing’ jobs plan

Mary Burke (Photo: WRN)

Mary Burke (Photo: WRN)

Large portions of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s jobs plan for Wisconsin were copied from other gubernatorial candidates who ran in previous election cycles in other states, according to a report from BuzzFeed News.

According to the report, several paragraphs in Burke’s job plan contained the same or similar language to plans put forward by politicians in Delaware, Tennessee, and Indiana. The text was apparently added by a consultant to the Burke campaign, who had worked on the other campaigns where the text had appeared.

Republican Governor Scott Walker’s campaign manager, Stephan Thompson, was quick to issue a statement:

“It’s a sad day for Wisconsin when the Democratic nominee for governor misleads voters by offering a plagiarized jobs plan, in which she has staked her entire candidacy. Wisconsin deserves better, and its clear that Mary Burke cannot be trusted to lead our state.”

Wisconsin GOP Executive Director Joe Fadness released a statement following the news:

“Mary Burke needs a lesson in business ethics because even 8th graders know that you shouldn’t copy the work of others. This devastating revelation makes more apparent than ever that the Mary Burke behind plagiarized jobs plans, endless resume changes, and constant flip-flopping on the issues just doesn’t fit our Wisconsin values.”

Burke for Wisconsin Communications Director Joe Zepecki responded to the plagiarism claims in a statement:

“The core strategies Mary Burke outlines and the vision for Wisconsin’s economy that she lays out is entirely her own, and stand unquestioned by anyone. They are informed by Burke’s time at Harvard Business School, through starting her own small business, serving as a top executive at Trek and leading the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

Among the experts Burke spoke with was an individual who also works with other campaigns, including the Markel, Cammack and Gregg campaigns for Governor, which explains why in a few, isolated instances similar language from those plans is used to describe ideas that are widely accepted as best practices or are ideas which hold promise for Wisconsin.

Zepecki added that the individual responsible for adding that similar language “did not meet expectations and no longer has any involvement with the campaign.”

Race for Wisconsin governor remains a dead heat

Burke, Walker

Mary Burke, Scott Walker

With less than seven weeks to go before the election, the race for governor in Wisconsin remains a dead heat. According to the latest Marquette University Law School Poll released on Wednesday, Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke were tied 46-46 percent among registered voters in the state. Among likely voters, Walker held a slight lead at 49-46.

The poll of 800 registered voters and 589 likely voters was done by phone, between September 11th and 14th. The margin of error for the poll was between +/- 3.5 and 4.1 percent.

In the last Marquette poll released in August, Walker held a slight lead over Burke among registered voters, while Burke had the edge among likely voters. Poll director Charles Franklin says the slight shift is likely a result of Republicans becoming more enthused and engaged in recent weeks. He says those numbers will likely become more important as we draw closer to the November 4th election, noting that “Elections are about both candidate preference and turnout, changes in either can shift elections.”

The race for attorney general has also tightened up significantly. Democrat Susan Happ led Republican Brad Schimel 39-38 percent among registered voters, while Schimel leads 42-41 among likely voters.

Among other findings from the poll, voters continued to forgive Walker for only creating 40 percent of the 250,000 private sector jobs he promised. Only 29 percent of registered voters said reaching the goal was very important. The state’s financial picture is better than it was a few years ago, according to 41 percent of voters, while 27 percent said it was worse.

Voter ID continued to have strong support among voters, with 65 percent of respondents supporting a requirement for voters to show a government-issued photo ID card at the polls and 35 percent opposing the requirement. Franklin says those findings have been relatively consistent over the seven polls where the question has appeared since 2012. The latest poll was in the middle of being conducted when a federal court lifted an injunction blocking Wisconsin’s Voter ID requirement.

GOP sues GAB over ballot design

(File photo: WRN)

(File photo: WRN)

Republicans file suit against the Government Accountability Board over a newly-designed ballot slated for use in the November general election. The lawsuit argues the new ballot format unfairly favors Democrats and will confuse voters.

Kevin Kennedy with the GAB says it’s not unusual to have a ballot change — or to have someone object to that change. Even he has some “quibbles” with the final design, but at some point, he says, one has to draw the line. “So there’s always ballot challenges. On one level, the fact that someone is raising a question is not unusual.” However, he says, “The fact that someone attributes any partisan motivation to the staff of the GAB is where I would use the term that it’s absurd.”

The day before the lawsuit was filed Kennedy defended the design, saying GAB staff dedicate themselves to being “fair and impartial.” He told reporters in Madison, the staff is looking for the best ballot design. “They’re not perfect; they’re not experts,” he says, “I have quibbles with the way some of the things came out, but I don’t think the issue that’s been presented is anything other than something to gin up a lot of partisan activity on this.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told talk show host Charlie Sykes on Milwaukee’s WTMJ this morning the new ballot design would “clearly benefit the Democrats right before the election.” He said it’s part of a bigger “subliminal” and “intrusive” strategy. Vos added, “Democrats are looking for any advantage they can, even if it is small or slight, to be able to get their candidates elected.”

Republicans want a declaration that the new ballot violates state law, a ban on a requirement that local clerks use that new GAB-approved ballot template, and an order for the GAB to tell municipal clerks to use the old design. Kennedy estimates it would cost “several hundred thousand dollars” to redesign and print new ballots.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) filed the lawsuit Wednesday morning in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Wisconsin absentee voters will need to show photo ID (AUDIO)

GAB director Kevin Kennedy (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

GAB director Kevin Kennedy (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Thousands of Wisconsin voters who have already requested absentee ballots, and in some cases already turned them in, will have to provide a copy of a valid photo ID for voting before the November 4th election. Otherwise, state election officials say no ballots will be issued to them or counted on Election Day.

The state Government Accountability Board on Tuesday laid out its response to a court order from last Friday, which lifted an injunction that had been blocking Wisconsin’s Voter ID law from being enforced. Agency director Kevin Kennedy says officials plan an “extraordinary response” in the remaining days before the election, as they work to educate local clerks and voters about what will be required of them at polling places across the state.

Kennedy says the immediate concern is the more than 11,000 absentee ballot requests clerks had taken in before last Friday. Clerks have been instructed to contact those voters in writing to inform them that they must submit a copy of a valid government-issued photo ID for voting. If they do not, a ballot will not be issued. If an absentee ballot was already submitted, it will be treated as a provisional ballot on Election Day.

AUDIO: Kevin Kennedy on absentee ballot requests (:25)

Kennedy stresses that the vast majority of the voters in Wisconsin will not need to do anything special to cast a ballot in the election. He says “most voters already have the ID they need to vote. A driver’s license, a state issued ID card, a passport, a military ID, or a tribal ID are the most common…most people do not need to get a separate ID card to vote.”
For those who do need an ID to vote, the state Division of Motor Vehicles is stepping up efforts to supply individuals with the free card they will need to show at the polls. For those lacking a birth certificate or other documentation, a new system is in place to verify that information at no cost to the voter.

Kennedy says Friday’s court decision was not entirely unexpected, and the GAB had been working on how to implement the voter ID requirement quickly in the event the injunction was lifted. While those challenging the law have asked for a hearing before the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to revisit the order, Kennedy says the GAB is moving forward as if the requirement will be in place on Election Day. He says those plans will change only if there’s a court order.

Kennedy notes that much of the groundwork for training local clerks on how to check IDs was already done after the law was passed in 2011. The voter ID requirement was used in a single election in early 2012, before a Dane County judge issued the first injunction blocking further enforcement. Court cases have kept it tied up since then. He says not having to “reinvent the wheel” will help with the process of getting local clerks ready for the requirement in the remaining days before the election.

Former “Miracle on Ice” star, Bob Suter passed away at age 57

Bob Suter was part of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team.

Bob Suter was part of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team.

Former UW defenseman and Miracle on Ice star Bob Suter died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack.  He was 57.

“We are all stunned,” UW women’s hockey coach Mark Johnson, who played with Suter on UW’s 1977 NCAA championship team and on the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, said in a statement released by UW.  “Everybody is shocked.

Wisconsin men’s coach Mike Eaves also teamed with Suter and Johnson to lead the Badgers to the ’77 NCAA title in Detroit.

“This is a heartbreaking day,” Eaves said in the release.  “Bob was the ultimate teammate.  He could skate like the wind and was as hard of a competitor that I ever knew.

Suter suffered the heart attack at Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, using the facility for his work with the Madison Capitols youth program.

Suter went to Madison East High School.  He is the father of Ryan Suter, who played at UW in 2003-04 and last season completed his ninth season in the National Hockey League.

“I was extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Suter,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said in the UW release.  “The Suter name is synonymous with Badger hockey.