Two state senatorial recall campaigns could have combined signatures to force a special election of the Senate minority leader, but one campaign decided against collaborating due to irreconcilable differences.
The Recall Mark Miller campaign came up 268 signatures short of the required 20,352 necessary to trigger a special election. A separate recall movement launched by Dan Baltes, a Salt Lake City activist, had those 268 signatures, but the Wisconsin effort chose not to collaborate.
Baltes has been accused of being a con artist and was not trusted by the Recall Mark Miller campaign because he used conservative causes for his own personal profit in the past, according to Recall Mark Miller spokesperson Jeff Horn.
“He takes legitimacy away from honest people who really want to be a part of these recalls,” Horn said.
In recent years, Baltes created websites and PAC organizations with PayPal donation links, sometimes changing names in order to do so. Baltes profited off these sites and donated little or none of the contributions to the advertised cause, Horn said.
Baltes also has a criminal record of forgery, fraud, grand theft and embezzlement, Horn said.
Outside groups tend to lack legitimacy when they influence recall efforts, University of Wisconsin political science professor Barry Burden said, and their lack of transparency makes it difficult to justify their recall efforts.
“The Utah group appears to be little more than an individual with a website,” Burden said. “This sort of effort bears little resemblance to what we think of as grassroots politics.”
Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck considered the campaign’s decision not to use Baltes’ signatures a smart move. The recall effort against Miller would have been scrutinized for having an out-of-state entity interfere in Wisconsin politics.
Heck added it would have put the legitimacy of the recall campaign in jeopardy.
Miller’s district is a fairly safe Democratic district, Heck said, and he was not surprised to learn they had not gathered enough signatures to qualify a recall election.
“Miller’s district holds a lot of public employees, many who were involved in the Capitol rallies,” Heck said. “Miller’s actions in the past three months probably only enhanced his popularity.”