All four Republican senators who face recall elections filed challenges against the legitimacy of petition signatures with state election officials Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls, Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, and Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, filed their challenges by the 5 p.m. deadline, according to a Government Accountability Board statement.
In the challenges they filed, the Republican senators highlighted the signatures that they found to be illegitimate, GAB spokesperson Reid Magney said.
Fitzgerald said in a statement he has challenged 4,300 signatures, which, if successful, would prevent a recall election against him.
“The organizer of this recall promised us that she would be reviewing each and every signature,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “However, a real review of what she turned in found missing information, hundreds of signers outside of the district, felons involved in process and at least one completely made-up name – and that’s just in the last 20 days.”
Fitzgerald said in a statement about 1,500 signatures were “manipulated” by circulators and more than 750 signatures were found to be outside his Senate district.
The Galloway campaign echoed Fitzgerald’s remarks. In a statement, they said they have heard from several individuals who were misled into signing the petition throughout the review process.
The campaign also said the amount of money the Democratic Party and other labor groups raised is equal to the amount spent by the same groups in the three other separate recall efforts combined.
“The Democrat Party and their Big Labor allies spent close to $50,000 to manufacture a ‘grassroots’ effort and to distort Senator Galloway’s record to gather the necessary signatures,” the statement said. “It is estimated that a Senate recall election will cost local units of government around $500,000 in Senator Galloway’s District so the Democrat Party can have a do-over of the 2010 elections.”
According to Magney, the Republican challenges will be presented to the board for review. He also said the GAB is not in the business of verifying petition signatures, but rather reviewing them.
According to GAB statement, the person who faces recall is in charge of verifying the signatures.
The GAB statement said the board has been receiving complaints from people who said they have been receiving post cards to verify their signatures from the Republican Party.
In past, office holders who were subject to recalls also made extensive use of telephone banks in order to reach the petition signers, according to the statement.
“While individuals with an interest in vetting these petitions have every right to do so, we expect that they will continue to do so in a respectful, lawful manner,” GAB Director Kevin Kennedy said in a statement.
Magney said the next step in the recall efforts is in the hands of the petitioners, who have five days to produce a rebuttal to the challenges.
The senators have two additional days to challenge after that, and the board has a court-mandated deadline of March 19 to finish the signature review process, he said.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin did not return calls for comment.