What’s Up, Wisconsin?: Is the Koch-Funded Americans for Prosperity Playing Dirty Tricks with Voters in the Badger State?

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

It appears that Americans for Prosperity, a group co-founded by the Koch Brothers, may be involved in voter shenanigans in Wisconsin. According to David Catanese at Politico, AFP “is sending absentee ballots to Democrats in at least two Wisconsin state Senate recall districts with instructions to return the paperwork after the election date.” Think Progress has reported that the AFP mailer isn’t actually a ballot but a “form letter that looks like a normal absentee ballot application.” The Absentee Ballot Processing Center that is printed on the last page of the AFP mailer is actually registered to a right-wing advocacy group called Wisconsin Family Action PAC—and not to an actual processing center or election board.

Eric Kleefeld of Talking Points Memo reported that an organization called Wisconsin Right to Life had previously used that same address (Absentee Ballot Application Processing Center, P.O. Box 1327, Madison WI 53701-1327) “for absentee ballot application letters and phone calls that were sent out shortly before the July 12 Democratic primaries, but after the official deadlines for the applications.”

Catanese also noted in his Politico article that the “absentee trickery comes just as AFP has purchased $150,000 in ad time in Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison to boost GOP candidates.”

Yesterday, David Bice wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  that Matt Seaholm, who is the state director of Americans for Prosperity, blamed the mistake on a typo and claimed that his group was not trying to mislead anyone.

Bice also reported that other sources said the fliers were received by “card-carrying Democrats active in the recalls” of state Sens. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and Rob Cowles (R-Allouez). In addition, Bice wrote: “Two of the activists who received the AFP mailers are expected to file complaints with the state Government Accountability Board later today. Copies of the complaints were obtained by No Quarter.”

Click here to see the Americans for Prosperity “absentee ballot” fliers.

Click here to see copies of the complaints obtained by No Quarter.

Going Back in Time: Paul Weyrich’s Idea of Republican Voter Suppression

Conservative group sends absentee ballots with late return date (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

John Nichols: Gov. Walker, David Koch and the charges of voter suppression (Madison.com)

AFP Wisconsin ballots have late return date (Politico)

Koch Group Mails Suspicious Absentee Ballot Letters In Wisconsin (Talking Points Memo)

David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Plays Dirty Trick In WI: Mails Absentee Ballots To Dems With Wrong Election Date (Think Progress)

59 thoughts on “What’s Up, Wisconsin?: Is the Koch-Funded Americans for Prosperity Playing Dirty Tricks with Voters in the Badger State?”

  1. Wisconsin Recall Elections Prompt Progressive Groups To Make Six-Figure Ad Buy

    WASHINGTON — Three progressive groups are set to launch a six-figure television ad buy in the days leading up to the eight remaining Wisconsin state Senate recall elections.

    Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and MoveOn.org have spent a combined $265,000 on ads that will run in three major markets before the Aug. 9 Republican recall elections and the Aug. 16 Democratic recall elections. Two of the groups, PCCC and DFA, have now spent a total of $500,000 on the final three weeks of the recalls.

    The buy will include an ad against Senator Alberta Darling, a Republican who represents the 8th District. It will also help keep on air two previously released ads — one targeting Darling for her position on Medicare and another targeting District 14 candidate Luther Olsen (R) that will run in Green Bay and Madison.

    “We’re going even heavier in the Darling race than we have before, and still staying strong in the Olsen race,” said Neil Sroka, a spokesperson for PCCC. “We’re buying heavily in the two big contests of the moment.”

  2. @HenMan, you seem to be speacking from experience. Is that what affected your thought processes for the worse?

  3. I would think that the Koch Brothers and their friends would be confident that their superior ideas would be enough to convince voters to see it their way. I guess I was wrong!

  4. Did Koch Group Team Up With Religious Right to Suppress Wisconsin Vote?
    Remember when the Tea Party movement was supposed to be just all about the size of government, and not about those pesky “social” issues?
    By Adele M. Stan
    August 2, 2011

    AFP’s Wisconsin Electoral Shenanigans: Deja Vu All Over Again

    Wisconsin Democrats have reason to be suspicious of Americans For Propserity’s electoral activities. Last October, One Wisconsin Now, a progressive group, obtained undercover audio recording of the meeting of a local Tea Party group, the Grandsons of Liberty, in which a vote-caging scheme was laid out that involved mailers that AFP agreed to send out to voters in left-leaning districts in Milwaukee. The addresses were provided via the Republican Party of Wisconsin, through the state’s Voter Vault. (At that time the state GOP was led by Reince Priebus, who has since gone on to head the Republican National Committee, an apparent reward for his fine work in Wisconsin.) In the vote-cage scheme, mailers were sent in August to districts in which much of the housing was in college dormitories. They had “do not forward” instructions printed on the outside, so that the votes of those whose flyers bounced back to AFP could be challenged at the polls. (Of course, many of the students had moved out of their dorms by August, and would return to new room assignments two months before the election.)

    Mark Block, Seaholm’s predecessor at the helm of AFP-Wisconsin admitted to the Journal Sentinel, after an initial denial, that AFP had sent the mailers. However, the scheme was abandoned, he said, when the group received too few returned flyers.

    The 2010 midterm election campaign — which resulted in the election of Scott Walker to the governor’s mansion, two Wisconsin Tea Party freshmen to Congress, and the unseating of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold by the AFP-supported plastics magnate Ron Johnson — all saw a Koch-linked program, Prosperity 101, in full swing in Wisconsin workplaces, where at the behest of their employers, workers gathered for seminars on how policies typically embraced by Democrats could ultimately cost them their jobs. (AlterNet’s investigation of Prosperity 101, conducted and published in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, can be found here.) Many of the seminars were fronted by Stephen Moore, an editorial board member of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal.

  5. Thanks for the link, Elaine M.

    “A mob of corrupt local officials and morally absent financiers got together…” — the start of many a story in present day America. (-credit to Matt Taibbi)

  6. puzzling,

    Maybe you’d find the following article about Jefferson County, Alabama interesting:

    Looting Main Street: How the nation’s biggest banks are ripping off American cities with the same predatory deals that brought down Greece
    MARCH 31, 2010

    If you want to know what life in the Third World is like, just ask Lisa Pack, an administrative assistant who works in the roads and transportation department in Jefferson County, Alabama. Pack got rudely introduced to life in post-crisis America last August, when word came down that she and 1,000 of her fellow public employees would have to take a little unpaid vacation for a while. The county, it turned out, was more than $5 billion in debt — meaning that courthouses, jails and sheriff’s precincts had to be closed so that Wall Street banks could be paid.

    Wall Street’s Bailout Hustle

    As public services in and around Birmingham were stripped to the bone, Pack struggled to support her family on a weekly unemployment check of $260. Nearly a fourth of that went to pay for her health insurance, which the county no longer covered. She also fielded calls from laid-off co-workers who had it even tougher. “I’d be on the phone sometimes until two in the morning,” she says. “I had to talk more than one person out of suicide. For some of the men supporting families, it was so hard — foreclosure, bankruptcy. I’d go to bed at night, and I’d be in tears.”

    Homes stood empty, businesses were boarded up, and parts of already-blighted Birmingham began to take on the feel of a ghost town. There were also a few bills that were unique to the area — like the $64 sewer bill that Pack and her family paid each month. “Yeah, it went up about 400 percent just over the past few years,” she says.

    Wall Street’s Naked Swindle

    The sewer bill, in fact, is what cost Pack and her co-workers their jobs. In 1996, the average monthly sewer bill for a family of four in Birmingham was only $14.71 — but that was before the county decided to build an elaborate new sewer system with the help of out-of-state financial wizards with names like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. The result was a monstrous pile of borrowed money that the county used to build, in essence, the world’s grandest toilet — “the Taj Mahal of sewer-treatment plants” is how one county worker put it. What happened here in Jefferson County would turn out to be the perfect metaphor for the peculiar alchemy of modern oligarchical capitalism: A mob of corrupt local officials and morally absent financiers got together to build a giant device that converted human shit into billions of dollars of profit for Wall Street — and misery for people like Lisa Pack.

  7. Kderrhoid-

    You should show your love for the Koch Bros. by getting a job in one of their non-union super safe coal mines.
    P.S.- When the canary dies, run like hell!

  8. p.s. … I unionized myself so I could complain about how my union employee was robbing me

  9. What government checks? I was a small business owner and I was my only employee.

    No, the truth of the matter is that it’s a hot Tuesday evening and my neighbors and I were sitting on the veranda and someone suggested we go on line and check out the trolls.

    I lost by the way ’cause my money was on “tin foil hat”.

  10. Blousie, you seem in much better spirits now that you know your government checks are safe again. To each according to their needs.

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