Tea Party groups plan to continue their efforts to review recall petitions, even though state election officials say they will not directly address any problems they uncover.
At least two Tea Party groups are independently working to verify recall petitions against Governor Scott Walker and other Republicans. Ross Brown with “We the People of the Republic” says their review is needed because the Government Accountability Board is not being thorough enough. Brown says the “citizens of Wisconsin want to get involved in this process” to uphold its integrity, and he argues the GAB is not doing enough to make sure that happens.
The GAB is currently reviewing nearly 1.9 million petition signatures filed last month against Governor Scott Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators. The agency has completed work on scanning those petitions and is currently conducting a physical review of the documents to look for invalid, duplicate, or fake names.
The process being used by outside groups is much more in depth. Volunteers are creating databases of all petition signatures, which will be used to check for duplicates. They are also doing comparisons against death records and white page listings to spot potential fraud.
GAB director Kevin Kennedy says those efforts go beyond what the law requires the agency to do, while also noting that state law only allows their staff and those involved in the recalls to challenge signatures.
The board on Tuesday signed off on a policy from staff indicating the agency will not be using reviews done by outside groups, since there is no process in place to accept that information. Kennedy compared the position to being in court, where you “don’t allow people to just walk in and say I have additional evidence.”
Because the groups doing outside review are registered as independent committees, they are not allowed to coordinate with the campaigns of recalled office holders. However, Kennedy says the information they gather can be publicly shared and used by the campaigns. Brown says they do plan to publish their findings online.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:18)