Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I'm still hearing from people who continue to receive faulty absentee ballots from the McCain campaign, and now, in addition to just checking to see whether the information on them is correct and reporting problems to the city clerk, there's another course of action we can take.

One Wisconsin Now has created a petition "to the newly-created Election Task Force and the Government Accountability Board...calling for an immediate investigation of the mailing." There's also a tool to report bad ballots for those who've already gotten them. Both can be found here. Go! Report! Sign!

Oh but the voting shenanigans don't stop there. J.B. Van Hollen still insists that his last-minute lawsuit against the GAB is totally nonpartisan, but for some reason, keeps changing the story about whether or not he or anyone in his department spoke with Republican party members prior to filing.

Here's a handy timeline of events and statements, courtesy of the (admittedly partisan) Democratic Party of Wisconsin:

September 10, 2008

Van Hollen filed suit against the Government Accountability Board, stating “The goal of this requirement is to protect the integrity of elections by ensuring that only those who are qualified and properly registered would be permitted to cast ballots.” (Source: AG Van Hollen release, 9.10.08)

September 17, 2008

During an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, Van Hollen said, “I can’t imagine what’s partisan about asking for fair elections … this should be about as nonpartisan an issue as there is. … Once again, I don’t know who is making this a partisan issue. Our decision to sue is non-partisan as well. (Source, WPR, Joy Cardin, 9.18.08)

During an interview with the Appleton-Post Crescent, Kevin St. John said the only motive fueling the complaint less than two months before the election is compliance with rules. (Source, APC 9.18.08)

September 18, 2008

Following a court hearing, St. John wouldn't confirm or deny whether Van Hollen consulted with the Republican Party or McCain's camp before launching the lawsuit. When pressed by reporters he responded by saying Van Hollen doesn't use any consultation with any party as a basis to decide whether to sue. (Source: AP, 9.18.08)

"This is not a coordinated lawsuit. I can say that absolutely," St. John added. (Source: WSJ, 9.18.08)

Later in the day Van Hollen said "There was no discussion with anybody involved in leadership with the Republican Party (or the McCain campaign) about this lawsuit before it was brought."

Van Hollen said he did not believe any of his aides discussed the matter with the party or campaign either. "I can't say for certain what they have or haven't done with every minute of their day any more than they could speak about mine, but I have no reason to believe - none of them have reported to me - that anybody involved in the Republican Party or the McCain campaign about this lawsuit," Van Hollen said. (Source: MJS 9.18.08)

Van Hollen's attorneys defended his lawsuit as legal and appropriate, with no conflict of interest or consultation with any Republican Party official. (Source: WISC-TV, 9.18.08)

Later in the day, a GOP attorney said he complained to the state Department of Justice about two weeks before Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen sued the state's elections authority, but Van Hollen said he was unaware of that contact. He also said he had “no reason to believe” any of his aides discussed the case with the GOP or the McCain campaign.

Finally, St. John admitted, “at least one person” at the department had contact with someone from the party on the matter. (Source: MJS 9.18.08)

September 19, 2008

Contradicting earlier statements made by DOJ staff, news reports revealed that the lead Department of Justice attorney for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s lawsuit against the state’s election authority met with Republican Party representatives about a week before filing the suit.

Justice attorney Steven Means said he met with Republican attorneys Chris Mohrman and Jim Troupis at their request to discuss the Government Accountability Board’s policy on checking voter information. Other Republicans participated in the meeting via conference call, but Means said he could not recall who they were. (MJS, 9.19.08)

“The elections board is violating the law, so of course we went to the attorney general,” Mohrman said. “There may have been multiple contacts, different people to different people.” (MJS, 9.19.08)

September 21, 2008

In an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette, Van Hollen said, “Anything I do anything related to a campaign, that's on our own time and it's on our own dime.”

“Once again, we're just flat out enforcing the law,” Van Hollen added. “Whether that hurts McCain or helps McCain, I frankly don't know. The reality is the law says that we do this to make elections fairer, and no matter whom I support, I'm enforcing the law, so I don't see what the McCain campaign has to do with it at all, frankly. (Source: GBPG, 9.21.08)

September 23, 2008

RPW Chair, Reince Preibus, admitted to the Wisconsin State Journal that he discussed his frustration with the Government Accountability Board’s decision to not commence the voter checks demanded by the RPW several times at the Republican National Convention, including at a delegation breakfast attended by Van Hollen and in a small group setting also attended by Van Hollen.

Preibus also admitted that he had multiple contacts with Van Hollen’s top aide, Deputy Attorney General Ray Taffora, regarding his belief that the Government Accountability Board should expand voter registration checks before Van Hollen filed the Lawsuit. (Source: WSJ, 9.23.08)

So, not exactly a smoking gun, but certainly more than enough to raise some serious alarms. Who talked to who and when? Is that at all common in a case like this (and if so, should it be)? As more and more interested parties pile onto the lawsuit and new details about the case emerge practically every day, I can't help but wonder: who's policing our top cop?

h/t Whalla!


Dustin Christopher said...

I'm glad to see you've been keeping up with this story. It just keeps getting uglier. I finally have the internet again, myself, and had to take an evening to get caught up on your blog.

Emily said...

An evening with my blog? I hope there was tea. Or beer. Whichever floats your boat.

I'm doing my best to keep up on it, and I'm happy to see that a lot of other folks are, too. Our ability and right to vote is just too important to let people muck about with it for partisan (or any other) reasons.

The Lost Albatross