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. kderosa,

    Yeah, I know. I decided to use one of your ploys … just say something, whether it is true or not, and see how you would respond.

    there was money riding on it … 🙂

  2. Politicians have used public sector union support to win elections and power in exchange for agreement to use that power to rob taxpayers. Much of this theft has come in the form of absurdly rich public sector benefits, paying common retirees like lottery winners. Unlike a private sector employer that over-promises benefits, government can’t lose to competition and never closes.

    In Rhode Island this month we can see is a microcosm of the coming standoff between public sector unions and taxpayers across the country.

    Update: Central Falls files for bankruptcy; contracts voided

    “The current situation is dire,” Chafee said, “and it necessitates decisive steps to put the city back on a path to solid financial footing and future prosperity. We will be exploring all options to provide quality services at an affordable cost to all taxpayers.”

    All contracts with municipal workers and retirees, including the fire and police departments, are immediately voided.

    “We negotiated with Council 94 and the police and fire unions, without success, attempting to reach voluntary concessions, and we tried in vain to persuade our retirees to accept voluntary reductions in their benefits.”

    I expect Central Falls shows the future of Jefferson County Alabama, and then cities in Pennsylvania, and eventually major cities like Houston and Chicago, and then entire state governments.

  3. “to curb the pay and power of Big Labor.”(kderosa)

    That’s funny coming from a Big Business supporter

  4. Claims of Election Fraud, Illegal Collusion, Arise in Wisconsin Recall Election

    The MacIver News Service has reported that more than $11 million in labor union money has been shuffled into Wisconsin to fund third party political advertising to benefit the Democratic candidates. Earlier this week we also reported on a Get Out the Vote Scheme that appeared to run afoul of Wisconsin election law. The group, Wisconsin Jobs Now! was offering food and prizes to voters who then hopped in a van and were shuttled to Milwaukee City Hall to vote early via absentee ballot. (The use of ‘walking around money’ and such inducements for voting may be common in other states but they are illegal in Wisconsin.)

    After our report, the group began to scrub their internet history to hide their connection to another liberal activist group, Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
    Perhaps it’s because their favored candidate in the Miwlaukee area senate race, Democratic State Representative Sandy Pasch, sits on the Board of Directors of Citizen Action, thus providing a direct line relationship between Pasch and the ‘prize give-a-way’ scheme.

    Next Tuesday voters in six state senate districts in Wisconsin will determine whether Republicans here will be able to keep their majority in the upper house of the legislature.

    As you know, the GOP Senators are facing these recalls because they voted in favor of Scott Walker’s labor reforms that ended most of the collective bargaining entitlements for public workers.  The unions are clearly pulling out all the stops to win. They want these elections to be the first victory in the counter insurgency against Governors and legislators in other states who have made similar, albeit more modest, efforts to curb the pay and power of Big Labor.

  5. rafflaw,

    I’d stay out of Wisconsin until Scott (aka Mortimer Snerd) Walker takes a walk–a long walk away from the Wisconsin State Capitol Building.

  6. HenMan,

    I saw one of those t-shirts just the other day. Two versions. On the back of one it said, “Fighting Kochs make better dictators!”, the other said “These Kochs don’t play around!” In all fairness, the marketing machine for those opposed to selling our democracy have shirts too. Theirs say “Koch fighting isn’t for chickens!” and “Don’t play with that thing or you’ll go blind!”

  7. Raff-

    The Koch Bros. would shoot Democrats on their way to the polls if they thought they could get away with it. And then sell “Election Day Massacre” T-shirts and hats to the spectators.

  8. Elaine,
    I am sure it was just an honest mistake! The Koch Brothers would never try to do anything that usurped the law, would they?

  9. A whiff of Koch-backed foul play in Wisconsin recalls
    By Natasha Lennard
    Salon, 8/1/2011

    Something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin — and the Koch-backed advocacy group Americans for Prosperity is behind it.

    The second round of state Senate recall elections is scheduled for Aug. 9 — when six Republicans will face Democratic challengers — and voters have been sent absentee ballot applications. The problem is, Democratic voters in a number of districts received mailers advising that they return absentee ballots by Aug. 11 (two days too late to be counted). The misleading notices came from AFP.

    The Wisconsin Democratic Party, Politico reports, is now filing a formal complaint against the conservative group for “falsely representing the time frame” of the recall elections.

    “[AFP] has displayed a continued pattern of tampering with the electoral process in Wisconsin with elaborate, illegal and fraudulent schemes designed to suppress Democratic votes,” Margaret Brick of the WDP told Politico.

    The mailers specifically targeted Democratic voters in two districts where Republican incumbents face recall on Aug. 9. In response to accusations that it intentionally deceived voters, AFP claims that the wrong election date on the applications was a “printing mistake” — a mistake the group says it is addressing by putting calls in to every person on the mailing list to remind them of the correct election date.

    AFP claims that the mailers were only sent to its members, despite the fact that those targeted with the ballot notices were nearly all self-identifying Democrats. However, AFP-Wisconsin’s director, Matt Seaholm, is not taking seriously the allegations : “I’m sure the liberals will try to make a mountain out of a molehill in an attempt to distract voters’ attention from the issues.”

  10. To pick up on last night’s thread….

    “The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” –William Colby, head of the CIA from 1971-1975

    “Colby also focused on internal reforms within the CIA and the Intelligence Community. He attempted to modernize what he believed to be some out-of-date structures…

    President Ford, advised by Henry Kissinger and others concerned by Colby’s controversial openness to Congress and distance from the White House, replaced Colby late in 1975 with George H. W. Bush during the so called “Halloween Massacre” in which Secretary of Defense Schlesinger was also replaced (by Donald Rumsfeld). Colby was offered the position of U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO but turned it down.”
    – from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Colby

  11. Go figure nothing on the news in WI about this….where is the MSM when something like this is going on….

  12. Elaine-

    I have in front of me one of two “Absentee Ballot Applications” I received from Wisconsin Right To Life. They are similar to the one you have a link to. The address is exactly the same. The major difference is as follows:

    Step 3: When you receive your absentee ballot from your city clerk, fill it out immediately and vote for the right-to-life candidate.
    Step 4: Mail in your completed absentee ballot which must be received by your city clerk before August 4.

    I have never voted absentee, but I believe the APPLICATION for an absentee ballot must be received by the city clerk by Aug. 4. I think the ABSENTEE BALLOT itself must be received by the city clerk any time before the end of voting on Aug. 9.

    I live in the Senate District of Alberta Darling, who is being recalled. I have made two donations to her Democratic opponent, Sandy Pasch, which is publicly available information undoubtedly in the hands of Wisconsin Right To Life. I suspect that if I sent them my application for an absentee ballot, it would be accidentally “lost or delayed in the mail”.

    Every time there is an important election in Milwaukee, the night before the Tuesday election some of our local racist Republicans put flyers on cars parked in the inner city urging all African-Americans to “be sure you go to the polls Wednesday and vote”. (By the way, it never works.)

    There is now a website with information on the recall of Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Petitions will start circulating around Nov.4. The website has yard signs, bumper stickers etc. available. They have gathered 192,858 signatures so far on a “pledge to recall” Walker and Kleefisch. This will give them a data base to send out info on where to sign recall petitions once the dates are firmed up. The deadline for the petitions will be in early 2012.

    Website is: http://unitedwisconsin.com

  13. Voter fraud is an age old tradition on the con. Any questions can be immediately answered by the Board of Elections … dates, times, identification needs, even progress of precinct counting.

  14. mahtso,

    Robocalls arouse suspicion with bad election date
    LaCrosse Tribune
    July 30, 2011

    A round of automated phone calls urging residents of the 32nd Senate District to vote one week after the upcoming recall election has voters from both parties crying foul.

    Several voters reported receiving calls Saturday asking about their preference and likelihood to vote in the recall election pitting Republican Sen.

    Dan Kapanke against Democratic Rep. Jennifer Shilling, both of La Crosse.

    The recorded calls, recipients said, urged them to vote Aug. 16.

    Only one problem: The 32nd District votes on Aug. 9.

    Government Account -ability Board spokesman Reid Magney said the Democratic National Committee called election officials Friday saying they initiated the calls but stopped them Saturday once the incorrect date was discovered.

    The DNC did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

    There are two recall elections set for Aug. 16 in other districts.

    Magney said the GAB received only one complaint about the calls — forwarded by a media outlet. While it is a crime to deliberately mislead voters, Magney said the responsibility for investigation and prosecution rests with local authorities.

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