Some organizers of the recall against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are a little hesitant to highlight stories like the one that follows, because they worry it might discourage people from volunteering or from signing recall petitions. I disagree. I think it strengthens the resolve of volunteers and exposes the desperation of Scott Walker's supporters.
In what might be the creepiest attempt yet by one of Walker's supporters to intimidate recall petition signers, WKOW TV in Madison reported tonight that a man used brief video clips of signed petitions from a previous newscast to identify signers. The man, from Hartland, Wisconsin in Waukesha County, then called some of those petition signers at home by telephone to harass them.
I cannot get their video to embed, but here is the link. If you can take a couple minutes to watch it, please do. It includes an interview with the creep from Hartland and will give you a good sense of how unhinged the Walker supporters have become.
A truck parked in the driveway of the Hartland man's home sported a pro-Walker sticker in the back window, but the man claimed on-camera that he called the petition signers because he was undecided about the recall and wanted other opinions.
I will just let that meatball hang out there with no further comment.
The WKOW story makes clear that the petitions are not yet public documents, though they will be public after they are turned in to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board by the recall committee in January.
The sheer number of intimidation attempts has convinced me that this is a coordinated attack. It is not just a few loose nuts. It's clear that supporters of Walker know their only chance to stop the recall is to frighten people into not signing or circulating petitions. Walker's total silence about these blatantly unethical (and sometimes illegal) attempts to silence citizens tells me he approves.
There is no doubt that Walker hopes his extremist allies will be able to prevent a recall election, but that wish will not come true. In the words of "The West Wing" actor Bradley Whitford, a Wisconsin native who spoke at a February rally in Madison:
"The Governor has to understand that Wisconsin is a tough constituency. We fish through ice."
In another story of a Walker supporter losing all ability to think rationally and behave like a responsible citizen, Madison police reported that they arrested and cited a 54-year-old man from Stoughton, Wisconsin on Thursday after he provoked a confrontation with a recall circulator near a Woodman's grocery store in Madison. From the police report:
A 41-year-old Madison woman was one of several collecting signatures on a sidewalk near the east side Woodman’s when a man appeared and started taking pictures of the recall volunteers. The woman assumed the man was a supporter of their effort. She posed for him and asked if would like to sign. She says the man said, “This is not good,” and, “This is going on the website.” She said the man then went over to where their cars were parked and began snapping shots of their license plates saying he was going to look up where they live.
It was about this time, the woman began to feel uneasy about the man, particularly when he said he was going to try to find out where she resides.
She decided to take out her phone to get a photo of him. She had not yet flipped it open when she says the man took a swipe her way, knocking her clipboard – with petition attached – and her phone to the pavement.
The phone back broke off, but she was able to reassemble.
She followed the man as he walked into Woodman’s.
She says he was yelling about her following him and being “anti-Walker.”
The other petitioners (a 64-year old Madison man and a 62-year old Madison man) relayed the same story to the investigating officer.
He was able to locate the other party who provided a much different take on the tête-à-tête.
The 54-year old Stoughton man said he stopped to take pictures of the group because one petitioner was standing way too close to the road and nearly hit his car. He says the woman actually nailed him in the eye with her phone, and he took a swing to get it away from his face. He doesn’t recall knocking the recall petition.
The officer inspected the man’s eye and found it looked just like his other eye, not overly bloodshot, no evidence it had been touched.
Still, the man said he was going to see a doctor and he would be suing the woman for striking his eye.
He maintained she chased him into the store. Surveillance video shows her following him as he points back at her, saying something. In the end, based on available evidence, the officer decided to cite the Stoughton man for disorderly conduct.
In a final, unrelated story, my son recently turned 18 and signed the recall petitions.