BEFORE READING THIS ARTICLE-Please make sure to vote if you are a citizen of Wisconsin.
After reading many posts online regarding complaints and reports of questionable and possibly illegal tactics occuring in Wisconsin on Recall Election Day, I decided to go straight to the horses mouth and contact the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, (GAB).
Reports and complaints online stated that voters were receiving robo-calls, [Mis]informing voters that if they had signed a recall petition, they did not have to vote. Of course this is not true, but as we all know how rumor mills work, misinformation can be picked up and spread like wildfire enough to keep voters away from the polls and place a cloud of suspicion to citizens less informed about the recall and voting process.
Posts online stated that the robo-calls were coming from the phone number that belonged to the Republican Party of Wisconsin, 608-257-8029. The posts also instructed individuals to contact the GAB, 608-266-8005 if they received a robo-call and also election protection 1-866-OUR-VOTE, to report the call. Other areas of concern were that of Kathy Nickolaus, Clerk of Waukesha County who faced serious scruitny over the past 16 months of her handleing of elections and who had previously 'stepped down' was in Waukesha County handling the election.
So I put on my citizen journalist hat and decided to contact them to see what was occurring and what they were or were not doing about these issues that concerned Wisconsin voters. I tried to call the RPW, but failed to get a hold of anyone, as their phones went straight to voicemail. I tried to call the GAB, my first attempt was unsuccessful, but my second attempt I was able to get through. Below is the conversation I had with GAB Public Information Officer named Reid Magney
ROJS: I had a question about some reports surfacing about Kathy Nickolaus, there are reports that she is in Waukesha County assisting with the election. There were previous reports that had covered that she had 'stepped down'--so I am a little confused as to what is going on.
GAB: Umm..[Inaudiable] she hasn't stepped down she is still the County Clerk.
ROJS: Ok, so then what was her role when she 'stepped down'--what was she 'stepping down' from?
GAB: Well there was an arrangement...ummmm...with the ummm...ya know this isn't something that we have anything to do with. This is internal to Waukesha County and the Waukesha County Executives Office. Where she is basically going to have her deputy...umm..be in charge of the umm....election reporting.
ROJS: My next question is, Are you guys aware of the misleading robo-calls that are being made to Wisconsin Residents telling them that if they signed a recall petition they do not have to vote. If so what are you doing about it?
GAB: Sure. Well there is not very much we can do because we don't know where they're coming from.
ROJS: People have reported the calls are coming from the Republican Party of Wisconsin. That is how I received the RPW phone number and information. That apparently is the number that is showing up on people's caller ID.
GAB: Oh..I ..I understand..I understand that's what...do you think that the Republican Party of Wisconsin would put their own phone number on something like that?
ROJS: Well me personally I think in a last minute desperate attempt yes they would. If their message is to sway voters and the benefit out weighs the risks then yes, they would do it.
GAB: ok...ummhum..ok..right...The thing to remember is that who ever is doing this is that whoever is doing this may be in violation of Chapter 12. There is a section in there about..umm..ya know...delivering false information to voters about an election. But Chapter 12 is enforced by District Attorney's-not by us.
ROJS: So the GAB cannot intervene on any of this?
GAB: Ya know if we have specific information about where where ummm.. a...uhh.. where the calls were coming from then we could share that information with the District Attorney. uh..but...uh...but if people have complaints about these calls they should make them to the District Attorney who has the power to umm...law enforcement investigate and possibly file charges.
ROJS: Ok then I will be sure to put that in my article, because I am getting reports that people are to contact the GAB. Which is why I contacted the GAB.
GAB: Yah..know ..we...I can tell you we have received a number of complaints about this and if we have specific information, ya know...where this..where these are coming from...umm we can share that information with law enforcement. But umm..Chapter 12 is the province of District Attorney's and Law Enforcement.
ROJS: Ok because I'm in contact from many people on the ground in Madison and throughout Wisconsin and that is how I received my information and they have told me it was the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and they have said that that is the number that showed up, and I have been trying to follow up with every number I have been given. So I do appreciate your time, this will assist greatly in getting word out regardless, that if people have a complaint they can file it with the proper authorities. So your stance is this has nothing to do with the...
GAB: I would say...I'm not saying we don't have nothing to do with it, people need to work with law enforcement. If we have ya know evidence that will ya know..assist law enforcement. We've received a number of phone calls about it. But umm..we don't have the ability to issue injunctions, or turn off people's robo-computers.
ROJS: Yah, what type of evidence are you looking for? Are complaints enough?
GAB: [Pause] Well I mean [Pause] We have received pleanty of complaints the question is where ya know where is this..are the calls actually coming from.
ROJS: Yeah well its just becomes a circular argument because the call that I have been notified about are coming from the RPW number. So it just is a circular argument. Ok well I think I have enough information and I appreciate your time, thank you very much.
GAB: Thank you
I personally after having this conversation, listening to it and then transcribing it, believe that the GAB may be involved or have knowledge of what is going on. What they basically said is that they can't do anything, its the DA's job, then they said they could work with the DA if they had enough evidence, which they stated multiple times they have received many phone calls complaining about the robo-calls. Then when asked specifically what evidence they would need, it then became redundant, and back to where the calls are coming from after I had explicitly told them the RPW.
Stay Strong Wisconsin...