Wisconsin

GOP Electoral College Power Play Tests Our Democracy

The GOP proposal to game the Electoral College in key blue states represents a massive escalation in the GOP war against electoral democracy.
PFAW

Reince Priebus, Ron Johnson to Headline Dinner Hosted by Birther Alabama GOP Chair

Sen. Rand Paul isn’t the only prominent Republican hanging out with birthers these days. Next month, RNC chairman Reince Preibus and Wisconson Sen. Ron Johnson will travel to Alabama to headline a dinner hosted by state GOP chairman Bill Armistead. Armistead raised eyebrows last year when he publicly recommended “Dreams From My Real Father,” a “documentary” that promotes the alternate birther theory that President Obama somehow inherited a Marxist worldview from his “real father” Frank Marshall Davis. Somewhat unbelievably, Armistead stated that he had “verified that it is factual, all of it.”

Interestingly, Priebus and Johnson will be stepping into the middle of a fight over whether Armistead will keep his job. (He faces a challenger backed by his longtime rival, state House Speaker Mike Hubbard.) Charles Dean at the Birmingham News reports that Priebus might be attending as a political favored to Armistead:

Some saw Tuesday's late announcement by Armistead that Priebus had accepted the invitation to attend the dinner as a sign that maybe Armistead had convinced the GOP national party chairman to support him.

Late last week Armistead announced that he was supporting Priebus for a second term as Republican Party Chairman. So far Priebus is unopposed for a second term but rumors have persisted for months that a challenger might step up.

UPDATE: The RNC tells the Birmingham News that Priebus is not taking sides in the party chairmanship race.

LaBarbera: Tammy Baldwin 'Hardly a Role Model,' Lacks 'Healthy, Wholesome Behaviors'

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality was indignant about the “shocking” election of Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate, making her the first openly gay Senator. He told Jim Schneider of VCY America on Crosstalk that Baldwin is “hardly a role model for young women,” whom he says should uphold “healthy, wholesome behaviors, not lesbianism.”

LaBarbera: All of the sudden I wake up to the news and look on the TV and see that Tammy Baldwin, a radical homosexual and pro-abortion feminist, everything’s on the left in her policies, is now elected Senator in Wisconsin. It was quite shocking.

Schneider: The Human Rights Campaign, they call themselves ‘the largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality,’ they celebrated this, they attribute part of this, to ensure her victory they said ‘they raised and contributed well over $500,000 for her campaign’ and they said Tammy Baldwin is ‘a role model for LGBT youth and young women across the country.’

LaBarbera: Human Rights Campaign should be called the Human Wrongs Campaign; it’s a homosexual pressure group and we would expect them to be celebrating Tammy Baldwin’s victory. But she’s hardly a role model for young women, we want women to embrace marriage and healthy, wholesome behaviors, not lesbianism. Her policies are to the far-left, she’s pro-abortion, in so many ways she represents what’s wrong with the left and now she’s going to be in the Senate for six years.

Recounting the other defeats gay equality opponents suffered in the election, LaBarbera warned that more Americans are embracing the “complete blasphemy” of same-sex marriage and that we are “seeing a civilization’s moral decline” with the rise of the “side of sin, of evil, the pro-homosexual side.”

The idea of homosexual marriage is a complete blasphemy and you would think that with most Christians the vast majority would get it and not affirm such positions, but sadly I think our society is de-Christianizing, it is becoming more secular, a recent study showed that a shocking number of Americans are unchurched. You see in such an environment, basically you are seeing a civilization’s moral decline, the secular forces, the sin movement which is homosexual rights, has more momentum. Unless we see revival in this country, we’re going to see more of this where the side of sin, of evil, the pro-homosexual side, has more energy than the side of good, which is the defense of marriage.

LaBarbera also attacked UPS for ending its financing of the Boy Scouts because the organization conflicts from the company’s anti-discrimination policy, and said that “I think most Americans agree that we don’t want homosexual men out camping in tents in forest with young boys, I certainly wouldn’t want a homosexual man, an open homosexual, with my young son.”

Look who the real discriminators are, it’s UPS, they are saying if you adhere to a certain policy, which happens to be the Boy Scouts’ moral creed, their morally straight policy which precludes homosexual Scout Masters, and I think most Americans agree that we don’t want homosexual men out camping in tents in forest with young boys, I certainly wouldn’t want a homosexual man, an open homosexual, with my young son. Yet that is called discrimination and they lose the funding while the Human Rights Campaign, which has multimillions of dollars, this hugely funded homosexual group, will continue to get UPS’s funding.

Romney Campaign Trains Poll Watchers With False Information

With all the fact checkers focused on campaign speeches and debates, Mitt Romney’s campaign is turning to a new outlet for their lies: poll watcher trainings. In Wisconsin the Romney campaign has been training poll watchers with false information about voter’s rights, according to a ThinkProgress article today. In truth, Wisconsin law makes it easy for eligible voters to cast a ballot, and it's critically important that we don't let the Romney campaign scare any voters away from the polls.

In one egregious example, the training materials indicate that voter IDs must have photos, which is not the case in Wisconsin. ThinkProgress points out other disturbing claims the training materials make, including:

CLAIM: On page 16, entitled “The ONLY Acceptable Forms of ‘Proof of Residency”, the third bullet point says “Any other identification card issued by an employer in the normal course of business and bearing a photo of the cardholder, but not including a business card.” The sixth bullet point also said any college ID card “must include a photo.”

FACT: Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, which would have required these photos in order to vote, was struck down by Wisconsin state judges. It is not in effect for the November 2012 election.

CLAIM: Any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” isn’t eligible to vote. (Page 10)

FACT: [In Wisconsin] Once a person who has been convicted of a felony completes his or her sentence, including probation and fines, that person is eligible to vote.

CLAIM: “If a handicapped voter is unable to come into the polls to vote, an assistant can deliver the ballot to the voter if the CEI verifies the elector’s proof of residency.” (Page 19)

FACT: Under Wisconsin law, the CEI (Chief Election Inspector) does not have to verify proof of residency so long as the voter is registered.

This is not a case of a single training gone awry. These trainings have been held across the state for the past two weeks. This is an instance of Mitt Romney’s campaign repeatedly spreading lies to poll watchers.

In recent months our affiliate People For the American Way Foundation has written about many attempts from the Right at voter suppression – from limiting early voting opportunities to proposing or passing voter ID legislation, purportedly to combat the virtually nonexistent issue of voter fraud.

Romney's efforts to disenfranchise those least likely to support him in Wisconsin is no surprise. Instead, it is just another component of a systemic nationwide effort to deny Americans the right to vote. The Romney campaign knows exactly what it is doing by spreading blatant falsehoods in its training materials – lies likely to cause serious damage to voting rights on Election Day.

Despite the lies of the Romney campaign, voting is easy and accessible. Let's make sure we turn out the vote and make our voices heard in this critical election.

PFAW

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

Kuhner: 'Gay Gestapo' Will Have Opponents 'Burnt at the Stake'

Janet Mefferd brought Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner on her radio show yesterday to shower praise on his wildly anti-gay column attacking Tammy Baldiwn, the openly gay Democratic congresswoman running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. They kicked off the program by mocking gay Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank’s marriage to his “male husband or wife” and Kuhner joked that he will support same-sex marriage only if Frank or his husband can get pregnant.

Mefferd: I love this line, the left got so mad at you for saying this, you say, ‘the last thing Wisconsin needs is Barney Frank in a dress’ and I thought, who is that insulting, Barney Frank’s manhood? I’m not even sure. Aren’t they transgender-friendly, why are they mad about that?

Kuhner: He’s married now and I’ve issued a challenge to Barney Frank. I said, Barney, the purpose of marriage is to have children, now if you and your male husband or wife, I don’t know how to put this, your male partner, if one of you can get pregnant because now they’re in the honeymoon phase, they’re lovers, I said if one of you can get pregnant and you can pull off a miracle I will openly support gay marriage. So I am waiting for a miracle from Barney.

Mefferd: That’s very magnanimous, well good for you.

Kuhner had previously told Mefferd that the LGBT community promotes “civilizational collapse” and is “even worse than the radical Islamists” and “brutal dictatorships,” and yesterday maintained that the “gay gestapo” is the “most frightening, scariest lobby” in politics. He said Baldwin’s Republican opponent Tommy Thompson should not have apologized over a campaign aide’s smear email targeting Baldwin for attending a gay pride rally, arguing that a pride parade is like a “bordello” and “pornography on asphalt.” Kuhner advised Thompson to remind voters that homosexuality is “destructive” and “harmful” to children.

Kuhner: Here you have a woman who is not just an open lesbian, she’s been an active promoter of the gay lifestyle, she’s an active promoter of gay pride, she’s always in these marches. I’ve been to some of these marchers, for example, you go to the one in San Francisco, it’s a bordello. The public displays, this is not fit for people to see. It’s basically pornography in public, on asphalt. When I look at this and I see the way Tammy Baldwin has behaved and conducted herself and the values that she preaches and champions I don’t understand why Tommy Thompson is apologizing, in fact I would do the opposite. If I were Tommy Thompson I would say very simply: marriage is between a man and a woman, we do not believe that homosexual behavior is natural and moral. Every major faith: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, going back thousands of years, in most cultures today, in most civilizations today, understand marriage to be between a man and a woman. 

If Tammy Baldwin wants to be lesbian in the privacy of her own bedroom, that’s her business. But when she makes it a public issue, when she starts promoting a lifestyle that we know is immoral and we know is destructive and we know has a harmful impact, especially on children. Children who are adopted by homosexual couples clearly don’t do as well as children that are adopted by heterosexual couples. Why? Because children need — newsflash to the liberals — a mommy and a daddy. Instead what we have is the gay gestapo who go out and try to intimidate morally, economically, professionally and personally anybody who speaks out against the homosexual agenda. After my piece came out—Janet I said this on your show before and I’ll say it again—the homosexual lobby is to me the most frightening, scariest lobby whenever I publish a piece. They are the worst.

They ended the show by warning that gays promote a form of “totalitarianism” and “will do everything possible to destroy” those who are in their way. “Either you accept homosexuality or you are burnt at the stake,” Kuhner said.

Kuhner: There’s nothing tolerant about it, there’s nothing inclusive about it, there’s nothing compassionate about it. They preach an intellectual, moral totalitarianism. Either you accept homosexuality or you are burnt at the stake, professionally your career will be finished, and they will do everything possible to destroy you. Well to me, that’s not America.

Mefferd: No, that’s not America and that’s why this agenda has to be stopped. As you said very well, it’s one thing to allow people the personal freedom to conduct themselves the way they choose in their own home and not have the state intrude into people’s bedrooms, but when it becomes a matter of public policy, as you say very well, it affects all of us, it affects our religious freedom when it comes down to it.

People For the American Way Expands Latino Vote Campaign, Launches New TV Ad in Four Swing States

Washington, DC -- People For the American Way expanded its campaign targeting Latino voters this week, adding outreach in Nevada and North Carolina and launching the second in a series of Spanish-language television ads exposing Mitt Romney's dangerous agenda for Latinos. The ad, running in key markets in Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, features interviews with real voters reacting to Romney's promise to veto the DREAM Act if it were to be passed by Congress. The two TV ads, along with radio and direct mail outreach are part of a $1.2 million and growing campaign in key swing states.
 
The new ad, "Dream Act," can be viewed here.
 
"Mitt Romney has been very clear about his extreme anti-Latino agenda," said Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way. "He slammed Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. He touted the endorsement of Kris Kobach, the architect of disastrous, draconian anti-immigrant measures in Arizona and Alabama. He vowed to make life so difficult for undocumented immigrants that they would be forced to 'self-deport.' He even rejected the DREAM Act, which after being partially implemented by President Obama's executive order, is helping thousands of loyal, hard-working young Americans give back to the country they call home."
 
"Romney plans to heap further tax cuts on the wealthiest at the expense of programs that benefit working people,"continued Keegan. "Americans should have a shot at the American dream. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to slam the door on all but the already privileged few."

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UPDATE: State legislation shines national spotlight on voter ID

"On voting rights in America, the arc of the universe has indeed been long, centuries long, from the three-fifths compromise in the Constitution to the poll tax to the literacy test. But it has always bent toward justice. These new laws seek to bend the arc backward again, to take away from people their effective right to vote."
PFAW Foundation

People For the American Way Endorses Rob Zerban for Congress

Washington, DC – People For the American Way today announced its endorsement of Rob Zerban for Congress. Zerban is a strong progressive who is running to defeat Rep. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st District.

“Rob Zerban is a great candidate and will make a great representative of Southeast Wisconsin in Congress,” said Randy Borntrager, Political Director of People For the American Way. “Rob knows what it will take to rebuild the American middle class. He’s committed to preserving the social safety net while building a strong economy where businesses can thrive.

“At a time when the Republican party is embracing extremism at all levels, Rob will be a strong voice for all Wisconsinites. Rob’s opponent, Paul Ryan, joined with Missouri Rep. Todd Akin in an attempt to redefine rape, and is now hoping to carry his party’s War on Women to the White House as vice president.

“Ryan is also the architect of the GOP’s disastrous plan to destroy Medicare and trash the social contract. Ryan’s now peddling that plan to the nation as the Republican candidate for vice president, but he also has to face the voters of his own district. America can’t afford to have Paul Ryan in the driver’s seat for our economy, in the White House or in Congress.”

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John Lehman Victorious in Wisconsin State Senate Recount

Official recount results released today show Sen. Lehman defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard.

“The official canvas after the June 5 elections showed Lehman leading Wanggaard by 834 votes out of nearly 72,000 ballots cast in Racine County's 21st Senate District — a victory that would give Democrats a one-seat majority in the Senate. Wanggaard, however, refused to concede and demanded the recount.

The final tally from the Racine County clerk's office Monday showed Lehman winning by 819 votes, with the Democrat tallying 36,358 votes to Wanggaard's 35,539.”

Sen. Lehman’s victory gives Democrats control of the Wisconsin Senate for the first time since Gov. Scott Walker took office in January of last year.

The razor thin margin affirms that every penny spent in this race was critical in helping Sen. Lehman reclaim the seat he lost to Sen. Wanggaard in 2010.  People For’s members played an active role in this race, and we couldn’t be prouder of what they achieved.

Despite Sen. Lehman's big win, the race is not over yet.  Wisconsin state law holds that the Government Accountability Board must wait 5 days before the results can be offically certified and Democrats can once again regain control of the Senate.  Sen. Wanggaard has until July 10th to formally file a challenge.

Once these final obstacles are cleared, John Lehman will rejoin his colleagues in the Senate and help continue the fight to protect the rights of Wisconsin workers.

PFAW

PFAW Helps Get Out the Vote in Wisconsin

PFAW staff, members and activists have been very busy in Wisconsin working to turn out every last progressive vote in the final days leading up to the June 5 recall election.

Here's PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager at a field office with our great partners at Voces De La Frontera, who headed up canvassing efforts in the Latino community:

Here he is giving a radio interview:

And canvassing door to door with volunteers from Voces:

These are just a few images from GOTV weekend... as members of our team return home and things become less intense, we'll have more pictures to share with you from various activies and events from our Recall the Right campaign in Wisconsin.

 

PFAW

Recall Foes Resort to Cheating

Opponents of Wisconsin's recall elections have resorted to one of the Right's favorite dirty tricks to suppress the vote: deceitful robocalls.

Wisconsin voters are reporting that last night, the day before the recall election, a wave of vote-suppressing calls are being made around the state, targeting voters likely to oppose Governor Scott Walker. The call allegedly tells voters that if they signed the recall petition, there was no need to actually vote: "If you signed the recall petition, you do not have to vote because that would be your vote." 

Unfortunately, the deceitful robocall tactic is not new in Wisconsin. Last summer, a group told Wisconsin Democrats not to vote on election day and instead wait for an absentee ballot. 

Wisconsin voters, be aware. It seems that the folks who pretend to be so concerned about voter fraud are in fact trying to steal the election themselves.

PFAW

Recall the Right: Tom Barrett is the CLEAR Choice Over Scott Walker

 

Watch Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Democratic challenger Tom Barrett wipe the floor with the Tea Party's favorite poster boy in their first debate. Then share the videos (especially with people in Wisconsin) to help get people fired up for the election this Tuesday, June 5!

Punishing His Enemies

Secret Computer System?!

Watch a longer compilation of highlights from Tom Barrett's round one debate win



Guest Post: Fighting the Right in Wisconsin, by WI State Senator Chris Larson

Wisconsin has enjoyed a rich tradition as a state of opportunity, a state welcoming social innovation and embracing progressive values. However, today communities across Wisconsin today are bracing for our June 5th gubernatorial recall election in response to a divide and conquer legislative strategy that rejected compromise and moderation.

Over the last year and a half, Wisconsin has reversed course to become a petri-dish for a radical, corporate social agenda. Growing evidence illustrates a strong influence by ALEC in promoting an economic and social attack on Wisconsin workers and their families.

Although the assault on workers’ rights to collectively bargain is perhaps the most widely publicized of these legislative efforts, it was is just the tip of the iceberg. Wisconsin’s middle class is being hurt by massive funding cuts to K-12 public education, fewer restrictions on for-profit schools, greater restrictions on voting, debilitating funding reductions to technical schools, reduced water and air pollution protections, massive corporate tax giveaways, an unparalleled attack on women’s health and reproductive rights, defunded public transit, reduced access to life-saving state safety-net programs, and fewer consumer protections.

Despite the extraordinary legislative efforts of Senate Democrats and countless hours of debate by Assembly Democrats calling for negotiations and moderation, the Republican majorities in the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate were unwilling to check the Governor’s brutal attack on workers and their families. This attack on workers has left Wisconsin mired in a sluggish economy, leaving Wisconsin dead last in the nation for job growth.

With the Wisconsin legislature not scheduled to return to the Capitol until January, all eyes are on the electoral process. The Governor’s seat and control of the State Senate will be decided on June 5th. The success or failure of these recall elections will likely determine the policy direction Wisconsin will take, and will have a ripple effect in legislative houses across our nation.

Chris Larson is a Wisconsin State Senator and a member of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network.

PFAW

People For the American Way Launches Spanish Language Recall Radio Ad in WI

MADISON, WI. – People For the American Way today began airing a hard-hitting radio ad in Wisconsin supporting the recall of Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four sitting state senators. The ad, running on Spanish language radio stations in Milwaukee and Racine, is the first PFAW political ad of the 2012 election cycle. It features Voces De La Frontera Action Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz calling on voters to support Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for governor.

The ad urges Wisconsinites to stand up against the extremism of Governor Walker and his like-minded colleagues in the Senate. “Our community is under attack,” says Neumann-Ortiz in the ad. “Governor Scott Walker has declared war on Wisconsin’s working class families in favor of the rich,” and “takes away education rights from immigrant youth, opposes driver licenses for immigrants and has promised to sign an Arizona-style immigration law.” The ad calls on Wisconsinites to “do their civic duty and vote Tom Barrett for Governor” on June 5th.

PFAW, a national group protecting civil rights and civil liberties, and Voces De La Frontera Action, Wisconsin’s leading immigrant rights group, are members of the We Are Wisconsin coalition, which is working on efforts to get out the vote and defeat Scott Walker and the extreme right-wing members of the Wisconsin legislature. “Gov. Walker and his allies in the legislature have enacted the anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-student, anti-middle-class policies peddled by corporate front groups and the Koch Brothers,” said Randy Borntrager of People For the American Way. “Gov. Walker, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch and the four state senators facing recall have proven that they don’t have the people’s interests at heart. It’s time to send a message for all working people and show Walker and his allies the door.”

The ad will continue to run through the June 5 recall elections.

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PFAW Calls on WI Legislators, Governor to Return Funds Tied to ALEC

Today, People For the American Way called on Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and ALEC-member state legislators to return campaign contributions from ALEC-member corporations and renounce the organization’s extreme agenda.

“The ALEC agenda ignores the needs of everyday people,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Policies that hurt working families, weaken public education and suppress citizens’ right to vote are not priorities for Wisconsinites. The fact that so many ALEC model bills are becoming law shows just how much influence corporations and special interests have over our legislators. It’s no wonder the public feels that their government has been hijacked.”

In Wisconsin, elected officials have taken more than a half million dollars in campaign contributions from corporations and individuals affiliated with ALEC. Records indicate that Governor Scott Walker, an ALEC alum, received $406,000 from 2008-2012. State legislators have also received a collective $276,000, as well the opportunity to attend corporate-funded conferences with their spouses and children in exotic locations. All four of the state legislators currently facing recall elections have received significant ALEC-connected funding: Senate President Scott Fitzgerald, Sen. Van Wangaard, Sen. Terry Moulton and Assembly Leader Jeff Fitzgerald have taken $14,870, $12,925, $9,475 and $21,424 respectively over the past three election cycles.

“Governor Walker and his allies have taken serious money from ALEC corporations. If they want to do right by their constituents, they should give it back,” continued Keegan. “Wisconsinites recognize that corporations shouldn’t be calling the shots in Madison. Elected officials should stop bankrolling their campaigns with funds tied to an organization that puts corporate profits above the people’s needs. The people deserve a government that isn’t beholden to special interests.”

An investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy released last week has revealed the pervasive extent of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence over Wisconsin Lawmakers.

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