Good news for democracy. At least two people were arrested in Wisconsin today in separate incidents of attempting to destroy a recall petition against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and destroying a recall sign.
According to BloggingBlue.com and other sources, a West Bend man was arrested for attempting to deface petition signatures gathered at the home of a West Bend teacher. The following is from the BloggingBlue article:
UPDATE: I spoke to the on-duty Sergeant at the West Bend police department and got the following details:
Incident happened at a residence in West Bend just after noon today
30 year old male
He is still in jail
Charged with 2 felony counts of defacement of a recall petition
Apparently, according to a witness to the incident, he scribbled all over the petitions trying to deface the signatures.
Sources are saying the man waited in line until it was his turn to sign the petitions, then instead of signing, he attempted to scratch out or cross out other signatures on the petition before fleeing.
In Chippewa Falls this morning, a 68-year-old woman from Thorp was arrested for ripping up a recall sign. From the Chippewa Herald:
According to the Chippewa Falls Police, Mary Jean Dezurik, 68, parked her white minivan by a group of recall volunteers shortly before 10 a.m. at the intersection of N. Bridge and W. River streets in Chippewa Falls.
After stopping, witnesses said she grabbed one of the signs, tore it up, threw it on the ground and drove away.
Chippewa Falls Officer Brian Zwiefelhofer apprehended Dezurik at W. Central and Bay streets, and arrested her for disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property
Read more: http://chippewa.com/...
It's about time. I hope we see arrests soon in two cases of petition destruction in Madison. Those incidents happened over two weeks ago but the Dane County District Attorney and local police have so far filed no charges nor made any arrests despite having already identified the likely suspects and having multiple witnesses.
UPDATE: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has picked up the West Bend story.
UPDATE 2: This might explain the recent arrests. Last week, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) and the state Department of Justice held a training session for local district attorneys on recall-related criminal activity. I'm guessing we won't see many arrests for signature fraud, but lots of arrests for destroying petitions:
Joint Statement on Recall Petition Complaints
Posted in Elections
Date: December 1, 2011
MADISON, WI – The Government Accountability Board and the Wisconsin Department of Justice are working together with district attorneys around the state to investigate allegations of recall petition fraud and acts of aggression by or against people involved in the recall process.
Today, G.A.B. and D.O.J. staff conducted a webinar for district attorney’s offices on investigating recall-related complaints. Under Wisconsin law, the G.A.B., the D.O.J. Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), local law enforcement and district attorneys may investigate alleged election crimes, but prosecution is the responsibility of district attorneys. The D.O.J. will assist district attorneys as needed in appropriate cases.
The G.A.B. and the D.O.J. have set up a joint clearinghouse for recall-related complaints to ensure all complaints are reviewed and assigned to the proper local jurisdiction. Complaints should be directed to the G.A.B.
“In the last several weeks, we have seen reports of everything from threats to citizens for refusing to sign recall petitions to intimidation of petition circulators to destruction of recall petition to false signing of petitions,” said Kevin J. Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. “We take these allegations seriously, and prosecutors and law enforcement will be treating acts of aggression and violence the same as they would any non-election crime.”
“A passionate recall campaign does not give people license to break the law,” Kennedy said.
“We have laws to protect the integrity of the election process and we stand ready to enforce those laws,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.
It is a Class I felony in Wisconsin to destroy, deface or otherwise commit fraud with a recall petition, punishable by up to 3½ years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Today’s webinar covered the background of Wisconsin’s constitutional right to recall officials, as well as applicable state statutes, and the roles of the G.A.B. and district attorneys. It also covered types of recall complaints: acts of aggression, circulating on private or public property, defacing or destroying recall petitions, falsifying information on a recall petition, use of public resources, personnel issues and multiple signing.
Persons with complaints about recall petition activities may file a complaint at the G.A.B. website: http://gab.wi.gov/... or may call 608-261-2028.
For more information, contact:
Reid Magney, public information officer, 608-267-7887