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Wisconsin recall candidates capitalize on out-of-state donor pool

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July 7, 2011

By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

At the Ballot on July 12, 2011 -- Democratic Primaries**
District Democratic candidate Protest candidate
Nancy Nusbaum Otto Junkermann
Assemblywoman Sandy Pasch Gladys Huber
Shelly Moore Isaac Weix
Assemblyman Fred Clark Rol Church
Jessica King John Buckstaff
Assebmlywoman Jennifer Shilling James Smith
**Polls will be open from 7am-8pm CST
Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

MADISON, Wisconsin: Democrats and Republicans have consistently defended the recalls as being indicative of the wishes of the local electorate. Yet according to a story from the Wisconsin Reporter, donations have flowed in from all 50 states, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. The latest campaign finance reports show the six Republican incumbents received 6.9 percent, or $170,168, from donors outside of Wisconsin. The previous reporting period showed the three Democratic incumbents received 25.4 percent - over $83,000 - from out of state. Updated reports for the Democrats are due next week.[1]

According to Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, out of district donations are nothing new, but that they're increasing. He said: "We've seen this phenomenon of outside interference for years, and it's growing. On average three-quarters of the money raised by state legislators comes from people who can't vote for them... That's not healthy."[2]

Sean Parnell -- President of the Center for Competitive Politics, a 501c3 dedicated to promoting the First Amendment -- said most state legislative races will have a few small donations from out of state, but that the Wisconsin recalls are an exception to the rule. "There are so few recall elections around the country that it's hard to generalize, but usually they are very local affairs. They are very focused on some particular shortcoming and voter outage, and it's clear that in Wisconsin, something different is going on," Parnell said.[1]

Incumbent Republican Dan Kapanke raised $80,110 from 1,107 out of state contributions, the most by any of the nine incumbents. Jen Harrington, Kapanke's campaign manager, said she was not surprised. "Every time there's a national story … we get responses from all over the country," [3]

However, it is not just the incumbents receiving large sums of money from non-Wisconsin residents. Incumbent Republican Sheila Harsdorf's campaign issued a press release today saying more than 90 percent of her opponent Shelly Moore's donors live outside of District 10,[4], while Luther Olsen's campaign released a statement that more than 94 percent of his opponent Fred Clark's donors were from outside District 14. Olsen campaign manager Jeff Weigand stated, "Fred wants voters to believe that he has the grassroots support of people living in the district. However when taking a closer look we find that most people fueling his campaign are miles away from his district - both in their location and their ideals."[5]

Moore outraised Harsdorf during the filing period $236,728 to $217,566, while Clark outraised Olsen $226,501 to $72,376.

As of today, full campaign reports are available on the GAB website for Sandy Pasch and Nancy Nusbaum. Reports for Shelly Moore, Fred Clark and Jennifer Shilling are still being processed by GAB workers. If candidates submit their report via excel spreadsheet -- as opposed to the online document via GAB -- then the figures must be converted in order for proper submission to the Wisconsin Campaign Finance Information System.

Now that the pre-primary reports have been submitted, any additional donation given to a candidate above the sum of $500 must be reported to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board within 24 hours.[6]

Pelosi leads Democratic fundraiser

A fundraiser benefiting the recall efforts against Republicans will be held tonight in Washington D.C. Individual tickets start at $250, while it will cost patrons $2,500, sponsors $5,000, and hosts $10,000, with all of the money going to the America Votes Action Fund The event will be headlined by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and feature Democratic Wisconsin Representatives Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Tammy Baldwin.[7]

In reaction, Stephan Thompson, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, stated, "Wisconsin Democrats just aren't finding the support they need at home, so in an act of desperation they've turned to Nancy Pelosi's influence among D.C.'s liberal lobbying crowd to save the day. If we needed another sign of how out of touch Wisconsin Democrats truly are, this is it."[8]

Group calls for hand counting of recall ballots

The nonpartisan organization Wisconsin Citizens for Election Protection (WCEP) issued a press release on Tuesday calling on municipal clerks to hand count ballots in the recall elections in order to guarantee accuracy and transparency.

WCEP legal counsel Jim Mueller said the state's voting machines could miscount votes without clerks knowing, explaining, "A public hand count of the votes on election night is the only way we can be sure that each ballot is counted as the voter intended. The voting public must have confidence that each vote matters."[9]

The WCEP was formed by volunteers who took part in the April recount for state Supreme Court between David Prosser| and JoAnne Kloppenburg. Under Wisconsin statutes, municipalities with a population under 7,500 can hand count without permission from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, while those with over 7,500 must request permission. The GAB has already approved such a request for the July 19 and August 16 elections for all of Lincoln County.[10]

See also


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