Wisconsin

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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Wisconsin’s Walker Tells a Big Lie About Voter Fraud

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who’s currently in a tough recall election battle, has a new line about what could tip the election against him. From the Weekly Standard via Dave Weigel:

"I’ve always thought in this state, close elections, presidential elections, it means you probably have to win with at least 53 percent of the vote to account for fraud. One or two points, potentially."

That’s enough to change the outcome of the election. “Absolutely. I mean there’s no question why they went to court and fought [to undo] voter ID.”

This is a blatant lie.

Every single time the federal government or a state has gone looking for evidence of widespread voter fraud, it’s come up short – including in Wisconsin, where an investigation of the 2008 election turned up 14 instances of voter fraud out of 3 million votes. As has been proved time and again, the myth of widespread voter fraud is in itself a fraud.

Gov. Walker claims that the reason progressives worked to overturn the Voter ID law he imposed was so that they could win elections with fraud. That is also a blatant lie. Progressives oppose Voter ID and other voter suppression laws because they keep eligible voters from voting – the Brennan Center for Justice estimated that these laws could keep 5 million eligible voters from the ballot box in 2012.

The voter-fraud fraud isn’t a misunderstanding. It’s a lie perpetuated by politicians like Gov. Walker to cast doubt on the election of progressives and build support for suppressive measures like Voter ID laws. The fact that Gov. Walker can parade totally made-up “facts” about voter fraud to a conservative publication and not get called out for it shows just how much traction the myth has gained.

PFAW

New CMD Report Reveals ALEC's Influence in Wisconsin

The Center for Media and Democracy released a new report today detailing the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in Wisconsin’s laws. At a time when ALEC members are jumping ship thanks to increased exposure of the ALEC agenda – 14 corporate members and 45 legislative members so far – this report serves as yet another window into ALEC’s shadowy, undemocratic method of ushering an extreme, pro-corporate agenda into law.

With the loyal help of Governor Scott Walker and a slew of complicit state legislators, ALEC has successfully implemented much of its corporate wish list in the state, including union-busting and corporate tax giveaways. According to the report, in Wisconsin:

• 32 bills or budget provisions reflecting ALEC model legislation were introduced in Wisconsin's 2011-2012 legislative session;

• 21 of these bills or budget provisions have passed, and two were vetoed;

• More than $276,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC legislators in Wisconsin from ALEC corporations since 2008;

• More than $406,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC alumnus Governor Walker from ALEC corporations over the same time period for his state campaign account;

• At least 49 current Wisconsin legislators are known ALEC members, including the leaders of both the House and Senate as well as other legislators holding key posts in the state. Additionally, the Governor, the Secretary of the Department of Administration, and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission are ALEC alumni; and

• At least 17 current legislators have received thousands of dollars of gifts cumulatively from ALEC corporations in the past few years, in the form of flights and hotel rooms filtered through the ALEC “scholarship fund” (complete “scholarship” information is not available).

People For the American Way Foundation has contributed to similar reports covering ALEC’s influence in Ohio and Arizona, and work continues to shine light on how ALEC paves the way for a state-by-state corporate takeover of our democracy.

PFAW Foundation

People For the American Way Launches Effort to Recall the Right in Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin – People For the American Way will kick off its effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four state senators tomorrow at the We Are Wisconsin Solidarity and General Election Kick-off Event, Saturday, May 12, Noon to 1PM, at the South Central Wisconsin Labor Temple,1602 S Park St. Madison, and at We Are Wisconsin field offices statewide.

Last year, People For the American Way (PFAW) mobilized supporters in Wisconsin and across the nation in the successful effort to recall two state senators who had supported Gov. Walker’s radical anti-worker agenda. This year, leading up to June’s recall elections, PFAW will continue to mobilize its broad base of activists in Wisconsin and educate voters about the attacks on working families by the governor, the lieutenant governor and several state senators.

“Gov. Walker and his allies have gone all-in for their corporate supporters, while leaving the middle class out to dry,” said Scott Foval, People For the American Way’s Wisconsin Coordinator. “They have attacked reproductive freedom; obliterated equal pay protections for women, veterans, seniors and disabled workers; waged an assault on workers and middle class families; and have even tried to prevent same-sex couples from visiting their partners in the hospital. A victory against Gov. Walker’s dangerous agenda will send a strong message to the Tea Party that its upside-down values aren’t working for the American people.”

“The Koch brothers and other corporate special interests are greasing the wheels in support of Walker with enormous sums of cash,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “We are proud to be part of a progressive community that is pushing back aggressively against these forces and fighting for the working people of Wisconsin.”

 

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WI Recall: In film, Walker talks of 'divide and conquer' union strategy

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (emphasis added):

A filmmaker released a video today that shows Gov. Scott Walker saying he would use "divide and conquer" as a strategy against unions.

Walker made the comments to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who has since given $510,000 to the governor's campaign -- making her Walker's single-largest donor and the largest known donor to a candidate in state history.

...

In the video shot on Jan. 18, 2011 -- shortly before Walker's controversial budget-repair bill was introduced and spawned mass protests -- Hendricks asked the governor whether he could make Wisconsin a "completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work" state. The Republican donor was referring to right-to-work laws, which prohibit private-sector unions from compelling workers to pay union dues if the workers choose not to belong to the union.

Walker replied that his "first step" would be "to divide and conquer" through his budget-adjustment bill, which curtailed most collective bargaining for most public employee unions.

More proof that Walker is working to serve the billionaire ideologues who want to bulldoze every institution set up to protect the public interest against rapacious corporate interests. And this shows, in his own words, how Walker sought to divide Wisconsin workers against each other with his unconscionable smear campaign last year against public employees.

This is why we're going to recall him on June 5!

UPDATE: Here's some video:

PFAW

Wisconsin Republicans Rally Against the Recall

Over the weekend, Republicans and right-wing activists gathered for a rally in Oshkosh, WI. The Oshkosh Northwestern filmed the event, and our friends at We Are Wisconsin PAC clipped some highlights (below).

The rally seems to have consisted of right-wing politicians spewing one distortion after another about the Walker administration’s policies and their opponents’ intentions. The interviews with the audience members unfortunately show a typical “tea party” misunderstanding of the issues, and that Republicans’ talking points about collective bargaining and teachers’ health benefits have taken root with at least the party’s avid supporters.

Some of the highlights included in the video above show U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde angrily railing against public unions (and completely rewriting the history of Scott Walker’s union busting in the process), a downright bizarre song-and-dance number mocking the protests against the Walker administration’s anti-middle class policies and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch noting the national importance of the recall elections. (Kleefisch begins 1:54 into the video.)

You can support PFAW’s Recall the Right campaign to send Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his right-wing cronies packing on June 5 here >>

 

 

 

PFAW

Walker's Millions and the Right's "Special Interests" Lie

On Wednesday, PFAW president Michael Keegan sent the following message to PFAW members:

Scott Walker is truly the worst governor money can buy. In 2010, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, Walker shattered state fundraising records in his campaign to be Wisconsin’s next governor. Now, faced with a recall election, he’s doing it again -- and then some.

It was reported this week that in the last three months, Scott Walker raised $13.1 MILLION to beat back his recall challenge. And that figure does not include the money being spent by right-wing Super PACs to support him and bash his opponents. To put this feat in perspective, Walker’s two leading Democratic challengers, Kathleen Falk and Tom Barrett -- currently locked in a primary in which they are spending resources against each other -- have raised $977,000 and $750,000 respectively.

Walker has milked his “golden boy” status among the ideological mega-funders of the right-wing movement. His aggressive attacks on workers’ rights, funding for important social programs and equal rights protections have made powerful corporate interests like Koch Industries and activists like Grover Norquist eager to host fundraisers for him around the country, from Oklahoma to New York. Amazingly, the Right continues to accuse our side of being fueled by “special interests” (as always, mischaracterizing “special interests” as people willing to stand up for their rights).

Many have called the Wisconsin recall election the second most important election battle of 2012 (second only to the presidential race), and it’s certainly shaping up to be the most emblematic of the crossroads at which America finds itself post-Citizens United. This recall battle is definitively one of Big Money vs. the People.

Mark Hanna, William McKinley’s right-wing millionaire campaign manager in 1896, famously said, “There are two things that matter in politics. The first is money and I can’t remember what the second one is.” We MUST prove him wrong in Wisconsin ... we must prove that People Power can win the day.

With the help of Hanna and the robber barons of the era, McKinley won his race with only 51% of the popular vote after outspending his Democratic opponent 23 to 1. It’s up to us to make sure 2012 is not a repeat of 1896.

We won’t be able to outspend them, but what we do have we will spend smarter to help turn out the people’s vote. With your help, we’ll outwork Walker and his billionaire allies and RECALL THE RIGHT in Wisconsin.

Thank you for standing with us in this fight. Please stay tuned for more important information about the Wisconsin recall elections and People For the American Way’s campaign the Recall the Right.

Sincerely,
Michael Keegan, President

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was in Wisconsin this week campaigning for Scott Walker and said, “For the next five weeks, America is going to find out the answer to what is more powerful, the people or the money and special interests from Washington, D.C. Wisconsin will answer that question."

Republicans are really going all in on the claim that the big money being spent in the recall election is coming from the Walker’s opponents. Jaw-dropping chutzpah considering Walker has already spent $20 million in his own defense, has another $25 million on hand and is being supported by outside groups with limitless funding from wealthy corporate interests. Meanwhile, the amount of money raised and spent both by the Democratic candidates and outside groups opposing Walker (including unions – the so-called ‘special interests’ to which Chris Christie was alluding) is hardly a fraction of Walker’s behemoth war chest. Oh, and for all the Republicans' handwringing about out of state money fueling the recall effort, it was reported a few days ago that two-thirds of Walker's money has come from outside of Wisconsin.

There's no question this race is a question of the grassroots versus big special interest money, but Scott Walker isn't the on the side of the grassroots.

PFAW
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