“What is happening in this lawsuit, is the governor is frantically trying to escape from the electorate.” So says Jeremy Levinson, attorney for the recall committees, and I’m inclined to agree, especially after witnessing the Friends of Scott Walker vs Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) lawsuit hearing this morning in Waukesha. And I don’t know how Kevin Kennedy, the lawyers, and the judge were able to keep a straight face, because this lawsuit seems utterly comical.
When asked why they’ve brought forth this lawsuit in the first place, here’s what the Friends of Scott Walker had to say: “We have the right of recall in the state of WI… but with the right of recall comes the equal right to not participate in the recall process, to not be a signatory. So if you are someone who chooses not to sign, you can only do that once. If you are someone who intentionally chooses to sign multiple times with the hope that your signature is counted multiple times, that’s ineffective.”
Also part of their rationale for this lawsuit is that they want the established “criteria to be followed” by the GAB. When asked if the GAB is not planning to follow proper procedure, the Friends of Scott Walker responded,““Based on statements that the GAB has made…we believe that they are not going to strike some signatures.”
So…just to reiterate: The Friends of Scott Walker don’t trust the non-partisan Government Accountability Board to do its job properly, so they’re suing to make sure it does. And they’re trying to protect the rights of those who are not interested in signing the recall petitions (“this is for their rights”).
But it looks like the voices of those who do want to sign the recall petitions won’t be heard in this case. Judge J. M. Davis denied the motion to intervene put forth by the recall committees, meaning they can’t be part of this lawsuit; the judge cited his concern over “fruitless, unending lawsuits” and “a free-for-all” as part of his rationale. Levinson’s argument that the recall committees have “just as much a direct interest in this lawsuit as the plaintiffs” failed to convince Judge Davis.
The judge did not seem pleased with Jeremy Levinson, in part, because he was late to the hearing. Before Levinson arrived, Judge Davis expressed discontent that even with a cell phone, Levinson couldn’t leave a message (turns out, he left a message at around 8:40am, which the judge later received). And Judge Davis was not placated by Levinson’s explanation that he was stuck on I-94 for an hour due to bad weather and road conditions. (Levinson later noted that road reports are documented.)
I asked Levinson if he thought the outcome would have been any different had he arrived on time; he didn’t seem to think so. He said he respected the judge’s ruling, but that he was “somewhat surprised” that his clients “will not have a voice in the litigation.”
True, the recall committees may not have a say in this particular lawsuit, but the voices of the electorate will be heard. There is no escaping that fact.