In his most recent “Up Against the Wall” column for IBMadison.com, former Republican U.S. Senate candidate fleshes out his allegations against Ron Johnson, who received the endorsement of the Republican Party of Wisconsin at the party’s convention in May. The column itself is worth reading in its entirety, but here’s one snippet I found most interesting:
While I was busy shaking hands and greeting people around the state, Ron Johnson’s team was readying its bag of dirty tricks, starting with hiring away my direct-mail vendor, who told my manager: “Financially, I stand to make a lot more from Johnson.” (Here was my first mistake; not insisting that my manager follow through on my request to have my vendors sign non-compete contracts.)
The next dirty trick came in the form Johnson’s team trying to hire away my staff while at the convention with job offers that just might come with above-market compensation, backed by rumors that Johnson committed to spend $8 million of his own money.
Then there was the chaos during the balloting, which is critical to understanding this tale. Here’s how it works; all votes for a county are cast regardless of the number of delegates. Once each delegate’s vote was cast, they are counted at the county level by the county party Chairman and the county’s total allotment is divided by the number of delegates to get the vote count by delegate. For example; on the first round of balloting, with only three delegates present on Sunday, Brown County voted all 225 votes for no endorsement (that’s 75 votes per delegate). However, on the second round of voting, Brown County cast all 225 votes for Johnson. What’s interesting about this is that one of the three delegates who cast 75 votes for Johnson was one of my own campaign staff, who is a young, impressionable College Republican.
What happened? Today, we do know that he has a job with the Johnson campaign! We did witness Johnson’s campaign manager talking to my staffer and later learned that a Brown County party official ordered my staffer to vote for Johnson, telling him he was not allowed to vote how he wanted. He obviously felt terribly torn and not knowing the rules (which allow delegates to vote as they wish), he did what he was ordered to do. Brown County’s votes threw Johnson over the top for the endorsement. If my staffer had voted for his boss (me), and if the party official followed his county party rules by voting “no endorsement” (he told me himself that his Brown County Constitution prohibited him from voting to endorse any candidate), the overall vote would have been a hung jury, i.e. no endorsement.
But this wasn’t the only time coercion was deployed and rules were broken. I received dozens of calls from delegates who were disgusted with what went on that day. One delegate told me how he voted for me, but was then handed his ballot back and instructed to change his vote for Johnson. After some argument, he admitted to switching his vote (and felt ashamed enough to call and tell me so).
Another delegate called and told me about how after he voted for me during the first round, a woman came up and sat down next to him and said, “What do we need to give you to get you to switch your vote?”
In Dane County, one of my staff caught a stranger with no credentials standing next to the balloting. She went up to him and confronted him (given that only delegates and guests with credentials were allowed on the convention floor). After some arguing, he finally left. In another similar case, my staff caught a man with a woman’s credentials trying to vote.
In one of the other counties, a senior county party told me in a phone call that he observed two individuals voting in their county whom he didn’t recognize and had never seen before.
In another case, a Chair of a county sent out an e-mail talking about how disgusted he was with the whole process at the convention, but was then quickly told to keep his mouth shut.
No doubt Johnson’s campaign – as well as his supporters – will continue to stamp their feet, cover their ears, and hope these allegations go away, but this definitely seems like a story that has legs, provided Terrence Wall continues to provide more details to continue to bolster his claims. If Wall can’t start to provide any concrete evidence to back up his claims, then the Johnson campaign may have some success in continuing to paint Wall’s allegations as “sour grapes” from a failed candidate.