Wisconsin Rep. Evan Wynn
A Republican state lawmaker in Wisconsin, a state torn asunder in the last year by the fight between conservative and left-leaning interests over the state budget and its fiscal future, says he is surprised that anyone would oppose his legislation that would make it illegal to buy signatures for a recall petition.
But Rep. Evan Wynn told WND today he’s already getting pushback against his plan.
One position he encountered was that the left-leaning commenter wanted “chaos” to reign until his political favorites were back in control in the state. Wynn told WND he believes the legislation is needed because his constituents have reported being offered money for their signatures on a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker and the majority Republicans in the statehouse are in the bull’s-eye for affronting public-sector unions by requiring that state workers pay 12 percent of their health care premiums and 5.8 percent of their salaries toward their own retirement.
Walker’s moves are estimated to save the state several hundred million dollars – in the face of a $3.6 billion deficit – but made him the target of incensed labor interests.
Earlier recall efforts cost the GOP in the statehouse a couple of seats, but the change wasn’t enough to overturn the party’s majority. But now Walker is being targeted, and Wynn said his plan is a simple fix to have the state outlaw the purchase of signatures on recall petitions – just as the state already prohibits purchasing a vote, or purchasing a signature on a referendum petition.
Wynn told WND it probably was a simple oversight that the loophole was left in the state law, because those who wrote it years ago probably never thought about buying signatures for a recall petition.
Before the current recall “mania,” he said, there had been only a handful of recalls in the state’s history.
“I had a person, a constituent, who called and told me a friend had received $10 for signing the petition,” he said. “The Government Accountability Board responded in a letter to me and said the statute doesn’t say anything about recall petitions.”
“But they’d like that changed,” he said.
His short bill would do just that, adding a prohibition to state law against paying for those signatures.
“It’s common sense that bribery’s not a good thing,” he told WND.
He said the bill could be considered as early as next month and adopted on a fast track shortly after. But he said the change would not impact the organized campaign to recall Walker, as those 540,000 signatures are due in January.
The governor then will have time to challenge individual names – and likely will be busy as state officials already have confirmed they would not arbitrarily remove signatures such as Mickey Mouse and Adolf Hitler if they were accompanied by a valid Wisconsin address.
The governor has challenged that ruling in court, and depending on whether there are further court challenges, and how soon those decisions are rendered, there could be a recall election anytime after about April, if enough signatures are gathered.
“Now since this is beginning to get out there, people now know their signature on a petition can be bought. … I imagine there are people out there who would say ‘I want $50,’” Wynn said.
Wynn said as part of his military career, he’s seen such vote maneuvers around the globe but never thought he would see such developments inside the U.S.
A judge also recently ruled that pro-recall groups won’t be allowed to intervene in Walker’s challenge to the decision by the Government Accountability Board that it won’t eliminate signatures such as Mickey Mouse.
The action seeks an order for the state agency to look for and eliminate duplicate signatures, illegible signatures and obviously fake names.
Wynn told a Wisconsin television station the idea of activists paying for petition signatures is “outrageous.”
Critics have said the attacks on conservative legislators and the governor are a typical “Alinsky” fight. Saul Alinsky was a radical who developed the confrontational political tactics that were used during the 1960s.
Barack Obama was trained by the Alinsky-founded Gamaliel Foundation.
WND previously reported when video was obtained of a rally at which speakers compared the Wisconsin protests against Walker’s plans to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, where moderate dictators were replaced by dedicated Islamists.
Speaker Amy Goodman, a host at the progressive Democracy NOW! Internet network, exclaimed to thunderous applause, “At this point, Gov. Walker would be wise to negotiate! It’s not a good season to be a tyrant!”
She continued: “The workers of Egypt were instrumental in bringing down the regime there in a remarkable coalition with Egypt’s youth. In the streets of Madison under the capital dome, another demonstration of solidarity is taking place that we are watching unfold today.
“If you’ve been involved in social change, like the people of Egypt, like the people of Tunisia, like you right here in Madison,” she stated. “When it does, you will be determining history and the course of the future for you and many generations to come.”
Another Democracy NOW! host, Sharif Adbel Kouddous, told the crowd, “In Cairo they wanted to reach Tahrir. Tahrir means liberation. And they wanted to get there. And they were attacked.”
The keynote speaker, John Nichols, who identifies himself as a progressive writer, also compared the Wisconsin protests to Mideast unrest.
“There is a people power in play here,” he said. “It is the people power that we saw in Cairo. It is the people power that we saw in Tunisia. That we have seen in Bahrain. That we have seen in Yemen. That we have seen in Libya. It is a power that is rooted in an understanding of an American concept. An old American concept.”