Republican Party of Wisconsin officials are investigating claims of recall petition fraud after a man in Milwaukee said Thursday night he signed various recall petitions 80 times.
According to Ben Sparks, spokesperson for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, state GOP officials have also been alerted to multiple instances of misconduct and fraud in the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, including harassment of individuals opposed to the recall effort, the use of government resources to communicate recall-related documents and instances of individuals claiming they signed the recall petitions multiple times.
Sparks alleged several interest groups affiliated with the recall effort are encouraging people to sign recall petitions multiple times.
“This type of behavior calls the entire recall process into question,” he said.
One Wisconsin Now, a left-leaning nonprofit organization, published “Recall Petitioners’ Rights” in late November, stating one can circulate or sign a recall petition even after already signing another recall petition but that only one signature per person will be counted.
Sparks said instances like this prompted the creation of the GOP’s Recall Integrity Center, a website that allows individuals to report instances of misconduct and fraud.
Destroying, defacing or committing fraud with a recall petition is a class one felony in Wisconsin and could be punishable by up to three-and-a-half years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, according to the Government Accountability Board statement.
Prosecution for recall petition fraud and other acts of aggression related to the recall process is the responsibility of district attorneys. Local law enforcement and district attorneys may investigate alleged election crimes.
Sparks also said the issue is not a matter of whether the recall effort will gather enough signatures.
“Democrats and liberal interest groups have started advocating the recall from day one. … [The issue is that] this is basically just a partisan power grab on the part of a bunch of sore losers,” he said.
The recall effort, which will require 540,208 recall petition signatures to trigger an election, has prompted allegations of acts of aggression by or against people involved in the recall process and recall petition fraud, a statement from the GAB said.
Meagan Mahaffey, executive director of United Wisconsin, the political action committee that filed for the recall petitions on Nov. 15, said the committee has always taken the position that people sign only one petition unless they strongly believe their first petition was lost or destroyed.
“We have an integrity process in place for reviewing the petitions, but overall I think the discussion about multiple signers and destroying petitions is just an attempt by the Republicans to create confusion and concern about this process because it’s all they have left,” she said in an email to The Badger Herald. “Even with millions of dollars on TV ads, they can’t defend Walker’s record, and that is demonstrated in the number of people who are signing petitions all over the state. Over 300,000 people signed a recall petition in the first 12 days of this movement, and thousands more sign every day.”