It is widely assumed that Kathy Nickolaus plans to “assist” but not run the upcoming recall elections based, in part, on a report by the Waukesha Freeman on 4/24/12. But on Saturday Nickolaus told Karen Herzog and Tom Tolan of the Journal Sentinel, “I have not relinquished any authority or responsibility in upcoming elections through the end of my term.” In fact, statements made to JS reporters indicate that she never planned to cede any responsibility to anyone in the first place.
But the embattled clerk said in a prepared statement that she would not relinquish “any authority or responsibility” for upcoming elections through the end of her term because “I am the Waukesha County constitutional officer charged with the responsibility of elections.”
According to her campaign manager, Nickolaus never planned to cede duties to her deputy, despite statements made to the Waukesha Freeman on 4/24/12 which seemed to indicate otherwise, specifically, “I’ve assigned the duty of election night to Kelly.”
Additionally, Shawn Lundie, Vrakas’ chief of staff, had told the Freeman on 4/24/12, “She is the County Clerk but Kathy has agreed to and has delegated the election night responsibilities to Kelly Yaeger.”
And from Saturday’s JSOnline report…
After problems in the election earlier this month, Nickolaus reportedly agreed under pressure from County Executive Dan Vrakas to cede election responsibilities to her deputy for the upcoming recall races.
But, from the same JS report from 4/28/12:
Her campaign manager said Saturday she “never ever agreed to hand over the responsibility given to her constitutionally as clerk” to administer the elections. “Kathy is still in charge,” said the manager, Dan Hunt, adding Nickolaus was unavailable for comment.
The deputy clerk will serve as liaison between municipal clerks and county clerks, oversee election result processes and make sure the results are reported to the Government Accountability Board, Hunt said.
“This reflects the agreement between the county clerk and county executive,” he added.
My head hurts.
Vrakas issued a statement after Nickolaus announced she wouldn’t run for re-election this fall.
“Our goal all along has been to restore public confidence in our elections,” Vrakas said. “The Clerk’s announcement does not affect our plans to improve the election process. I remain committed to doing whatever I can to ensure our elections are smoothly run and that the unofficial vote totals on election night are tabulated accurately and released to the public in a timely manner.”
So…were the Waukesha Freeman statements misinterpreted? Did somebody mis-speak? Because these comments provided by Nickolaus to JS on 4/28/12 clearly indicate she doesn’t just plan to “assist”:
“Residents of Waukesha County and the state of Wisconsin should know that election integrity has always been my primary focus,” Nickolaus said Saturday. “Because of this and the fact that I am the Waukesha County constitutional officer charged with the responsibility of elections I have not relinquished any authority or responsibility in upcoming elections through the end of my term.”
If Dan Vrakas is really serious about his focus on restoring public confidence in our elections and election integrity, he should make Nickolaus’ involvement in the upcoming recall elections crystal clear. And if he doesn’t, voters should demand it. We deserve to know the truth.