Today on The BradCast, startling revelations from the massive document dump of emails and other materials from the currently-quashed state criminal investigation into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 recall election fundraising. [Audio link to show posted below.]
The Guardian's remarkable 1,300 page leak of documents from the so-called "John Doe investigation" of Walker's illegal collusion with "independent" third-party non-profit groups is, in many ways, jaw-dropping. As we discuss on today's show, in addition to that collusion, the leaked emails also reveal state GOP operatives preparing to declare massive Democratic voter fraud, without a shred of evidence in support, in order to try and win a very close 2011 election for state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. The rightwing Justice would ultimately ensure a Walker-friendly majority on the court to support the Governor's controversial union-busting law.
"Do we need to start messaging 'widespread reports of election fraud' so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? I obviously think we should," writes one of the GOP operatives in one of the emails as results from the tight race came in. "Talk radio needs to scream the Dems are trying to steal the race...We need to declare victory first so it appears that the results are being overturned if they go the wrong way." Sound familiar?
Attorney Brendan Fischer, Associate Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center in D.C., joins us to help unpack the breathtaking smoking guns revealed by these newly-disclosed documents, after the state's probe of Walker was shut down by the very same elected Justices on the state Supreme Court whose elections were funded by the exact same corporate millionaire and billionaire donors and illegal mechanisms revealed by the quashed documents. Yes, it makes my head spin too.
"These documents show the breadth of the coordination scheme that Walker was engaged in," Fischer tells me. "It shows that what the Republican and Democratic prosecutors in Wisconsin were looking into with this investigation was really significant. It was a broad scheme to evade the state's corporate contribution limits and disclosure requirements. And that was very explicit. The purpose of Walker coordinating was to evade disclosure laws, to allow corporations and controversial donors to support Walkers' re-election without any sort of public disclosure or public accountability. That was not a bug in this coordination scheme, that was the purpose from the beginning. And the emails show that very clearly."
You really need to listen to today's show to get the full picture of what happened, and how this scheme has served as a template for GOP elections all over the country now (including the very same donors behind Donald Trump's campaign and, indeed, as we learn, including Trump himself who gave money to the "independent" Wisconsin Club for Growth on the very same day he met with Walker in NYC.) Fischer also describes, for example, the lead paint manufacturer who secretly donated $750,000 to the tax-exempt, non-profit "social welfare" group before state Republicans slipped in a provision to a budget bill that granted immunity to his company in the face of lawsuits from hundreds of children poisoned by the paint. "The public was unable to connect the dots between the secret three-quarters of a million dollar contributions to Wisconsin Club for Growth and the later policy decisions that Walker took" on behalf of the donor, explains Fischer.
"Bigger picture, this is one of those rare snapshots into how 'dark money' works," he says. "When you look at these documents, the two [Walker and WCfG] are interchangeable. This was not an instance where Walker's campaign had a few conversations here and there with Wisconsin Club for Growth Officials...Wisconsin Club for Growth was an arm of the Walker campaign."
Fischer also goes on to explain what we might expect as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a motion that could re-open the state's criminal probe later this month. Even if I say so myself, it's a must-listen BradCast today...
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Well, it looks like there were even more GOP vote fraudsters at work that year, including this amazing case just revealed by prosecutors from the contentious 2012 Wisconsin recall elections of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a number of state Senators, as well as the incredibly close state Supreme Court race that became a proxy battle election between Walker supporters and opponents...
Absentee ballots that normally would have been sent to voters as early as Tuesday won't get mailed until Friday, according to the head of the state's election agency.
The situation arose because of a conflict between state election law and the state constitution, which lays out a tight time frame between a primary and recall election, said Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board.
Under one state law, absentee ballots should have been available Tuesday because the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker and four GOP state senators is three weeks away, on June 5. But another law says ballots cannot be made available in a general election until after the period to ask for a recount in the primary passes, and that won't happen for the May 8 primary until Friday, Kennedy said.
Normally, there is a longer period between a primary and general election. But the state constitution requires four weeks between a primary and a recall election. That causes conflicts between the absentee schedule and the election certification schedule, Kennedy said.
As a result, a small number of people who will be out of town June 5 won't be able to vote because they won't be able to get an absentee ballot this week, Kennedy said Tuesday.
"We're dealing with a short time frame," Kennedy said. "Some people are going to get caught."
State law used to allow election clerks to email absentee ballots to voters at the discretion of the clerks. Voters would then fill out the ballots and return them through traditional mail. But last year, Republican lawmakers eliminated the ability of clerks to do that except in limited circumstances.
"It would be wise to go back to allowing municipal clerks to transmit (ballots) electronically. We thought it was shortsighted" for legislators to change that law, Kennedy said.
The Journal-Sentinel goes on to report that the Republican who amended the law claimed the change was needed "because some municipalities emailed out ballots while others did not, and she thought all communities should handle it the same way." And her even weaker reasoning was that "what voters returned by traditional mail had to be transferred by clerks onto ballots, which she said could be time-consuming for staff on election day."
While this development doesn't seem, in and of itself, to be an issue nefariously targeted at undermining the Scott Walker recall election specifically (as it had appeared in some of the more vague reportage I'd seen elsewhere this morning), it's certainly troubling for those folks leaving town this week who will not receive ballots in time to vote, and who will have no recourse to receive them while overseas. Those folks are most likely disenfranchised, whether that was the plan or not, thanks to the short-sighted amendment to state law written by state Sen. Mary Lazich, Republican of New Berlin.
The mailers, which offered incorrect dates and deadlines, and instructed voters to send back the forms to the PO Box of a "Right to Life" group in Wisconsin, were sent out not only by the Kochs' AFP, but almost identical misleading mailers were sent out by a mysterious "group" calling itself "United Sportsmen of Wisconsin". As The BRAD BLOG subsequently reported, to the surprise of almost nobody, the front man for that purported WI gun organization, John W. Connors, turns out to have been a longtime AFP affiliate and National Director, with a history of running deceptive campaigns.
Watch for these same insidious democracy haters and their ugly dirty tricks tactics to appear very soon now in advance of the historic June 5th recall elections of Walker, his Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state Senators whose seats --- along with the political balance of the state Senate --- are all now up for grabs.
I am old enough to remember not only the civil rights movement but that, amongst all the Southern Jim Crow states, Mississippi had absolutely the worst reputation. It was the state where, in 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American from Chicago was lynched, burned and so badly mutilated his own mother couldn't recognize his corpse --- all because he whistled at a white woman (we'll spare you the horrific photo, but it's available here if you'd like to see it); where, in 1963, the NAACP's Medgar Evers was gunned down outside his home; where, in 1964, three civil rights workers attempting to register voters were lynched.
I have no doubt that the 83% of MS whites who, this past November, as we now learn in a new analysis, voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment that would mandate polling place photo ID restrictions as a prerequisite to voting --- as compared to more than 75% of non-whites who voted against polling place photo ID --- would vehemently deny their vote was racially motivated. They would do so even though African-Americans are more than three times more likely to lack photo IDs than whites and even though study-after-study has exposed the lie in the GOP's baseless claims that such laws are needed to prevent "voter fraud."
But I am also relatively certain that race played a role in the inability of so many of the children and grandchildren of formerly Jim Crow Mississippi to appreciate what it is that photo ID truly seeks to accomplish...
According to the Initial Report from a landmark independent forensic audit of the Venango County, PA, touch-screen voting system --- the same system used in dozens of counties across the state and country --- someone used a computer that was not a part of county's election network to remotely access the central election tabulator computer, illegally, "on multiple occasions." Despite the disturbing report, as obtained by The BRAD BLOG and posted in full below, we may never get to learn who did it or why, if Venango's County Commissioners, a local judge, and the nation's largest e-voting company have their way. And that's not all we won't get to find out about.
The battle for election integrity continues in Venango, with the County Commissioners teaming up with e-voting vendor Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) on one side, and the county's renegade interim Republican-majority Board of Elections on the other. The Commissioners and ES&S have been working to spike the independent scientific forensic audit of the county's failed electronic voting machines that was commissioned by the interim Board of Elections. Making matters worse, the Board has now been removed from power by a county judge, a decision they are attempting to appeal as the three-person board and their supporters continue to fight the entrenched establishment for transparency and accountability in the rural Western Pennsylvania county.
The extraordinary battle began when the interim Board was appointed by a county judge to oversee elections in the Republican-leaning PA county last spring. Normally the County Commissioners serve as the Board of Elections. But when they themselves are up for election, as they were this year, the county court judge names a specially appointed Board to cover the election and serve until the end of the year, or until they are dismissed by the same court.
When the interim Board of Elections --- comprising two Republicans and one Democrat --- took power this year in Venango, they unanimously set about commissioning the landmark, independent forensic audit of the county's 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems, on the heels of sworn testimony from voters about several failed elections over recent years, beginning in 2008.
After months of legal wrangling, with County Commissioners in opposition, the special Election Board's independent study of the County's ES&S iVotronic voting system finally got under way in late September. At that time, a hard drive clone of the computer which runs the ES&S central tabulator system (known as the "Unity Election Reporting Manager") was created and given, along with other data, to two Carnegie Mellon computer science professors who had volunteered to carry out the analysis on behalf of the Board. The Board also announced that the November election this year would be carried out on an optically-scanned paper ballot system, also made by the county's vendor, ES&S, while the reported anomalies from their May 2011 primary election, run on the unverifiable touch-screen systems, were being examined by the scientists.
But now, as documents and letters obtained by The BRAD BLOG reveal, the voting machine company, Omaha-based ES&S, which had issued no objections prior to the start of the study, but changed its mind quickly after it began (as we detailed in an Exclusive report in late October) has now hardened their position, sending threatening legal letters to both the county and the two computer scientists. The e-voting firm has warned them they are likely to face a lawsuit if they do not agree to complete confidentiality and if results of their analysis are released publicly without their prior review and approval.
Shortly after ES&S' legal threats were issued last month, a county judge released the interim Board from their duties (a move now being appealed by the Board) and the County Commissioners, who had fought tooth and nail against the analysis even being undertaken in the first place, are now back at the helm. According to members of the interim Board, the County Commissioners seem likely to "white wash" and/or quash the entire analysis and a plan for continuing the investigation before it can be completed or even see the light of day.
The BRAD BLOG, however, has obtained a copy of the Initial Draft of one of the forensic studies by the Carnegie Mellon computer scientists. Findings from the report [linked in full below, along with ES&S' threat letters], include a number of disturbing, and so-far unexplained revelations that should raise alarm bells for voters in virtually every corner of the nation as we head into another Presidential election year.
Among those findings: details on unexplained, out-of-sequence activity log entries in the computer tabulation system, indications that the system was mounted several times with a "USB 'flash drive'" device, and, perhaps most troubling, evidence that the system was repeatedly accessed by an unidentified remote computer, for lengthy periods of time, on "multiple occasions."
The entire affair has left members of the interim Board --- which includes the Chair and Treasurer of the local Republican Party, as well as the former Chair of the Democratic Party --- hopping mad. They're asking questions about motivations of both the County Commissioners and ES&S and describing their actions as a "cover up," even as they take legal action to try and complete the work they had begun months ago, after first hearing sworn testimony from voters, describing major failures with e-voting machines at the polling place in recent elections...
It's our last night guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show this week! Hope you can join us. I promise a BIG show tonight!
Once again, we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
POST-SHOW UPDATE: On our last show before the Thanksgiving break, I'm thankful to the Malloys and all of their listeners for welcoming me so warmly each time I'm able to sit in. Thanks to you all. We had a helluva show tonight, with some very important news, interviews and calls. They all follow below in the commercial-free archives...
After the Municipal Council elections in Provo, Utah on November 8, residents had been told that Gary Winterton had narrowly defeated Bonnie Morrow for the District 1 seat --- by just 9 votes.
The margin was close enough that Morrow was allowed to ask for a recount of the paper ballots which were tallied on Election Night by the city's optical scan systems made by Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (Following years of failure of Diebold's voting systems, the company changed their name to Premier, only to see the assets of the failing company finally purchased last year by Dominion Voting, a Canadian firm which now services the machines.) The same optical scan systems are used all over the country, and are set once again for use in the New Hampshire's "first in the nation" GOP Presidential primary to be held in January.
The first "recount" of Provo's Municipal Council District 1 ballots --- carried out on the same op-scan systems that tallied them in the first place --- was held yesterday, only to be abruptly called off when the results were found to be "extremely in favor of the opposite candidate."
County officials recounted the ballots cast for the Provo Municipal Council District 1 Tuesday morning, but the discrepancy between the recount total and the total from election night became so large that officials stopped the counting process.
"They did a recount and the numbers came out so extremely in favor of the opposite candidate that there appears to be something wrong with the machine," said Helen Anderson, spokeswoman for Provo city.
Yesterday's tally, the paper reports, were "coming out overwhelmingly in [Morrow's] favor," so officials planned to begin a hand-count --- as per "Democracy's Gold Standard" --- for today...
The voters of Maine appear to have registered a stinging rebuke to their Republican Governor and Legislature's attempt to kill the state's 38-year tradition of Election Day voter registration at the polling place.
That's an understatement. The People's Veto of the GOP bill was on the ballot tonight and, if the results are accurate as reported, the people of Maine couldn't have been clearer. Question 1 has is said to have passed by a remarkable 61 to 39% 60 to 40% margin (with 90%98% 100% of the results in), quite literally winning in every single county in the state:
The overwhelming victory for voters' rights in the Pine Tree State comes on the heels of Maine's GOP Chair Charlie Webster embarrassing himself and his party over the last several months with his complaint to the GOP Sec. of State Charles Summers, Jr. that out-of-state college students were committing "voter fraud" in the state.
Despite some 200 names Webster submitted to Summers for an investigation, no evidence of fraud was found by the SoS. That lack of evidence of voter fraud, however, didn't keep Summers from sending intimidating letters to those legal student voters.
Nonetheless, Mainers of all stripes today appear to have soundly rejected the GOP's "voter fraud" fraud in their People's Veto at the ballot box.
"The advantage we had was the truth," David Farmer, a spokesman for Protect Maine Votes told the Sun Journal. "The facts carried the day. Same-day voter registration works and it has for nearly 40 years. Unlike other states, Mainers wouldn't stand for the erosion of their voting rights. They should be very proud of that."
They should indeed.
The contrast was stark, however, from results being reported in Mississippi tonight...
Electricity problems in Chesterfield County did not keep voting machines from working, but in Henrico County, approximately 954 voters in 19 precincts were not listed in the pollbooks even though they were at the correct polling locations. Officials asked voters to complete provisional ballots.
I called Mark Coakley, General Registrar of Voters in Henrico County to get a few more details about what went wrong there...
It's Election Day in America again today in a number of states. Therefore, electronic voting machines are once again failing and, even when they don't, leaving voters guessing whether their votes were recorded accurately or even at all.
Here's an early example this morning out of New Jersey, where pretty much the entire state votes on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems. The machine that failed, as detailed below, selected all of the candidates the voter didn't wish to vote for when he attempted to vote a straight-ticket ballot. The machine is made by a private company named Avante International...
Al Jazeera English's Bob Abeshouse and Yasmeen Qureishi have put together an investigative report on the out-sized influence of the Koch Brothers on American democracy. The documentary premiered on AJE this week, and both starts and ends with the "Secret Koch Tapes" we exclusively published last month in a series of articles at Mother Jones and here at The BRAD BLOG.
There are a number of noteworthy points in this investigative look at the Kochs, co-owners of Koch Industries, the nation's second largest private corporation (the giant oil conglomerate inherited from their father), and how they are spending just some of the extraordinary $18 billion increase in personal wealth they've enjoyed over just the last three years under the tyranny of the Obama administration.
But among the interesting points revealed here, is the fact that this detailed exposé, a behind-the-scenes examination of two of the most powerful puppeteers behind American democracy, comes not from the far larger and better funded corporate news networks here in the U.S., but from from Al Jazeera. Go figure...
Despite failing to object for months prior, the nation's largest electronic voting system vendor, ES&S, is now attempting to stop a landmark independent examination of their e-voting systems in a Pennsylvania county dead in its tracks.
An October letter from the company, obtained by The BRAD BLOG, charges that Venango County, PA, is in violation of their contract agreements with the Omaha-based e-voting Goliath, even as two volunteer Carnegie Mellon computer scientists are in the midst of a forensic audit of the county's May 17 primary election. The county's investigation comes on the heels of apparent failures of the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting system during their recent primary and several other recent elections in Venango.
The 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic system has failed in a number of elections nationwide, but is still widely used across the country and slated for use once again in more than a dozen states in next year's Presidential election.
The Venango study, which we first reported on in early October as it began, came about after worries arose during a 2008 election when the ES&S system reported that some county candidates "had zero votes," as the county's Republican Board of Elections chair, Craig Adams, recently told us while we were guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show.
Confidence in the system flagged once again, more recently, according to VotePA.us founder Marybeth Kuznik, after "numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates" in the Republican-leaning county's May 17 primary.
The county Board of Elections, currently comprising two Republicans and one Democrat, begs to differ with the ES&S claim that the county is in violation of its contractual agreements. The claim is "disingenuous at best," according to a legal memorandum obtained by The BRAD BLOG, from the Board's counsel. We've also obtained and reviewed ES&S' letters to the county and the county's agreement with the two independent computer analysts. The documents appear to back up the Venango attorney's assessment...
Last week we wrote about Venango County, PA's landmark independent forensic audit of their 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines. The heavily-Republican county will be moving to paper ballots this November, as their systems are now being examined by computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University following what Marybeth Kuznik of the non-partisan Election Integrity group VotePA.us described to us as "numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates in their May 17 Primary."
In our coverage last week, we highlighted the comments of Venango's Republican Election Director Craig Adams who asked at a presser, as the examination finally got underway following months of legal wrangling and opposition, "What is a vote worth?"
"If the vote is counted it is priceless," he continued. "If it is not counted, I don't care what it costs. Let's get a right."
On Friday night, as I was guest hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show last week, Adams was kind enough to call in to the show. [Audio posted below.] We didn't know we'd hear from him, but when he called in I was delighted to take his call, as he had more information to share on what had led to his Election Board --- currently comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat --- fighting together to move to paper ballots, and to see their machines independently examined.
"It started with an election in 2008 when the machines were basically showing a large number of undervotes," he explained. "And then there were candidates for positions in the county and they had zero votes, but there was like 250 or 260 undervotes..."
"Wait a minute," I interrupted. "There were people who had zero votes on the ballot? Is that normal?," I asked.
"No. No, it is not normal," he responded bluntly. "And so, ya know, that was a red flag"...
"What is a vote worth?" Venango County, PA's Election Board Chairman Craig Adams, a Republican, asked last week. "If the vote is counted it is priceless. If it is not counted, I don't care what it costs. Let's get a right."
"After months of legal wrangling," Marybeth Kuznik of the non-partisan Election Integrity advocacy group VotePA told The BRAD BLOG last week, Venango County's landmark independent forensic examination of the notoriously unreliable and 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, most often touch-screen) e-voting system finally got under way.
Kuznik explained that the study comes in the wake of the heavily Republican-leaning county having experienced "numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates in their May 17 Primary." Some candidates on the ballots even were reported by the voting machines to have received zero votes...
What the hell is the matter with Mississippi and their elections all of a sudden?!
You'll recall that two weeks ago, e-voting system failures --- such as machines that wouldn't boot up at all and votes that were counted twice --- created chaos during Mississippi's state primaries, leading one official to declare days afterward, as they were all struggling to sort out results of several close elections: "At this point there is no election...Everyone is baffled."
Then, last week, we reported on the Jones County, MS election clerk who asked for, and received permission from, the county Board of Supervisors to remove the so-called "paper trail" printers from his county's 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen voting machines because, as he told the board reportedly (with a straight face), "the voting machines record every vote and there is no way for them to be tampered with."
(That Jones County Circuit Clerk, Bart Gavin, has still not replied to our request for comment hoping to determine whether he's just hopelessly clueless, or something worse.)
And now comes this, from Rankin County, MS in advance of today's Democratic gubernatorial run-off election...