Shots for signatures scandal: Bartender apparently offered drinks in exchange for signing anti-Democratic petitions | WisCommunity

Shots for signatures scandal: Bartender apparently offered drinks in exchange for signing anti-Democratic petitions

Years after the fact, Republicans are still hanging their claim of massive vote fraud in Wisconsin on a mostly apochryphal story about one guy who allegedly offered homeless men cigarets if they'd let him take them to the polls. Out of that and a handful of other isolated and in some cases imaginary incidents, the state GOP now pushes hard to suppress the vote wholesale through draconian ID laws that mostly affect Democratic-leaning voters.

Apparently, it's much worse to offer smokes in exchange for a ride to the polls than it is to offer shots of booze in exchange for signatures on a petition to recall Democratic state senators. From Huffington Post:

The Wisconsin Democratic Party is planning to file a complaint to the state Government Accountability Board alleging that a Republican signature-gatherer offered alcoholic beverages to a group of women to get them to sign a recall petition against a Democratic state senator.

Although that's not illegal in Wisconsin, it is strongly discouraged and, Democrats argue, evidence that Republicans don't really have enough grassroots support for their recall campaigns...

According to a draft of the Democratic complaint to the GAB, obtained by The Huffington Post from a Democratic source, a woman who was at John's Main Event, a tavern in Burlington, Wis., with her friends on Feb. 27, "heard that someone was providing 'shots' to people if they signed a petition to recall State Senator Robert Wirch," a Democrat.

The woman, who signed the complaint, said a bartender showed her the recall petition and told her that if she signed it, she and her friends would get free shots.

Republicans aren't talking yet but are sure to scoff at the charge. Too bad there appears to be audio evidence to the contrary.

It's arguable whether a jury, for instance, would believe evidently inebriated conversations, but judge for yourself by going to the Huffington Post item at the URL below and listening to the audio exchange. The bottom line is this: If the actions of one or a handful of individuals are enough to destroy entire progressive organizations, such as happened to ACORN, then this time the shoe ought to be on the other foot.

At the least, as the Huffington Post item notes, the reported bar incident "does demonstrate that a party's reliance on a network of unsupervised signature-gatherers can end up causing headaches." Not exactly news, but Republicans have spent years trying to make this sort of thing the justification for their authoritarian instincts.


April 22, 2011 - 9:26am