GAB certifies recall elections against Republicans Cowles, Harsdorf & Darling

Yesterday the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board (GAB) approved recall elections against Republican State Senators Sheila Harsdorf, Rob Cowles, and Alberta Darling while also postponing any decision on whether the recall petitions against Democratic State Senators Bob Wirch, Dave Hansen, and Jim Holperin. The GAB’s decision not to take any action on the recall petitions against the three Democratic State Senators came under criticism from Republicans, with Dan Hunt, who led the effort to recall Sen. Wirch saying, “This is an example of a supposedly neutral government agency acting in a blatantly partisan manner to further the objectives of a particular political party.” It’s worth noting that the Government Accountability Board was created in 2008 after every Republican in the state legislature at the time voted to create the board.

A lack of staff was cited as the reason why the recall petitions targeting Sens. Holperin, Wirch, and Hansen were not certified yesterday, at least according to GAB attorney Shane Falk.

“We’ve attempted to work concurrently on all the petitions but we simply don’t have enough staff,” Falk told the board.

While I don’t presume to be an expert on all things pertaining to the GAB and the nine recall petitions filed this year, it’s my understanding there are some serious, serious concerns being raised about the recall petitions submitted against Sens. Wirch, Hansen, and Holperin, including signatures against Sens. Hansen and Holperin being gathered under false pretenses. However, despite the GAB’s decision yesterday not to certify recall elections against the three Democratic State Senators, I’m betting that those recall petitions will ultimately be certified, allowing recall elections against all three to proceed.


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12 thoughts on “GAB certifies recall elections against Republicans Cowles, Harsdorf & Darling

  1. Funny how the GAB was fair and impartial when they certified Justice Prosser’s win via recount but whoa…wha happened?

    1. Of course by the same means, there were posters here calling GAB right wing because of ruling they didn’t like.

      I don’t doubt there were more questionable signatures on some of the recalls than others, so the delay doesn’t surprise me – especially given the methods used by some of the groups to collect on them. I also think that overall, the structure is a huge improvement and will eventually be a good solution. That being said, the fact of the matter is, every member of the current board was selected by Jim Doyle. I believe the first board seat to expire is this year. When we have a little more balance – when all members weren’t selected by a single governor – especially some one as ethically challenged as Doyle – the GAB will take a step up in credibility.

      1. Although the members of the GAB are appointed by the governor, he isn’t able to just select a crony and reward them with a cushy state job.

        “The G.A.B. is made up of six former judges, nominated by a panel of four Wisconsin Appeals Court judges, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The six board members serve staggered six-year terms; one member’s term expires each year. Both the Board and its staff must be non-partisan.”

        Quite frankly this isn’t a job for the weak of heart. And I don’t understand why the Republicans aren’t able to wait another week to make sure everything with the filings are correct and accurate. Isn’t this just another aspect of insuring vote integrity?

        1. Of course you are correct – and I don’t think I’ve really haven’t had any issues with the rulings they’ve made so far. No doubt, a tough & inglorious job. Still, credibility is absolutely critical – and credibility is very much about perception as much as it is facts. Imagine if the entire Supreme Court was replaced during Obama’s term. Now imagine if it had been done during Bush’s Presidency.

          Back to the more specific topic…As much as I will grant that they may be fully justified in taking longer to review the Democrat signatures, to some degree, I do think it was probably a bad decision – or at least a bit of a tone deaf one. Figure out a way to get through the Democrat recalls too. Regardless of how long it takes to review them or whether some take longer than others, the petitions should be reviewed in first in, first out order. They didn’t do this – some of the Democrat-recall petitions were turned in before Republican-recall ones. Sorry, but that ain’t right.

          To the issue of being tone-deaf…it appears we’re headed towards a Recall Democrats election and a Recall Republicans one. That seems problematic to me. Both in terms of the perception of fairness, and also in terms of cost to the taxpayers.

          1. Locke,

            Your argument is, I think, uncharacteristic of you. Credibility has nothing whatsoever to do with perception. It has everything to do with facts. It’s not up to the GAB to mollify either side with empty gestures of evenhandedness. It is up to them to determine if the recall efforts remain within the criteria laid out in the statutes.

            If Dan Hunt, et al, can point to procedural peculiarities, then they may have something to gripe about.

            Instead, it appears, at this point, that they are upset over the fact that the GAB is operating as it should. They’re certifying those recall petitions that have been done properly, and they’re not certifying those that, apparently, have encountered snags.

            Again, Dan Hunt should produce some evidence to support his claim of favoritism toward the Dems within the GAB.

            1. I’ll agree with what Steve said. While I understand Locke’s point about perception, I’d rather the GAB concern itself with making sure things are done properly, rather than how they were perceived by the public.

            2. Your argument is, I think, uncharacteristic of you.

              That’s probably a fair point to bring up. Overall, I certainly take the perspective that “in fact” matters and screw perception. One of my favorite quotes is by John Wooden:

              “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

              That being said, perception does matter when it comes to the GAB. Yes certainly oversight to ensure elections are fair is number one. But their work is also to keep and maintain the trust of the voters. If people don’t trust the process, they won’t vote.

              If that makes me inconsistent or a hypocrite, I can live with it.

              1. To be fair, do we really know that “the people” don’t trust the GAB?

                All we’ve got is a statement from Dan Hunt, who clearly has a vested interest in this, given that he’s made statements that he may run against Bob Wirch if a recall is certified. It’s not as if Hunt is an unbiased, otherwise uninterested voter who’s outraged at the process; he’s an insider with a motive.

          2. Well I don’t think those who created the GAB ever anticipated the board having to deal with a statewide recount with any number of anomolies and 9 recalls all in the same month. It is the rabble rousers who are making an issue of this and I don’t see why a week is such in interminable delay. But yes maybe they could have started on the Dem recalls before these last three Reps but then I imagine all 6 recalls would have been pushed off until next week.

            btw: if they wanted to keep the appearances of supposed credibility they should have simply done them in the strict order presented and have been done with. FIFO.

            1. Well I don’t think those who created the GAB ever anticipated the board having to deal with a statewide recount with any number of anomolies and 9 recalls all in the same month.

              You mean the anomalies that led to a variation of a whopping 300 votes out of a million and a half cast?

              Though I’m sure you’re right – they never envisioned the amount of recalls that would occur, considering how infrequent they’ve happened in the past. Of course when I try to use, “but I really have too much work to do” as an excuse, it doesn’t get me very far.

              btw: if they wanted to keep the appearances of supposed credibility they should have simply done them in the strict order presented and have been done with. FIFO.

              That’s my point – they did not. By not certifying them in the order they were filed, they open themselves up to criticism and accusations of bias. They received the paperwork on Darling, Wirch, Holperin and Hansen on April 21, and for Cowles the 28th. But only certified the recalls for the Democrats. Maybe they can argue that the Darling petitions came in earlier in the day, I don’t know. But they bumped Cowles to the front of the line, despite receiving the paperwork to recall him a full week after the others.

  2. The Dems are alleging massive and systemic election fraud committed by the groups attempting to recall Wirch, Holperin and Hansen.|topnews|img|APC-News

    I should think that the authors/proponents of the Voter ID bill would take a keen interest in these allegations. Mike Tate says there’s a “mountain of substantial evidence” of deceit and fraud.

    If this turns out to be true it just doesn’t get any more surreal than this. The same side of the aisle hollering about the need for election integrity via a Voter ID bill may be involved in massive election fraud.


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