PLUS: Updates on previously-reported petition sabotage claims...
By Brad Friedman on 11/21/2011, 12:31pm PT  

Several opponents of WI's Gov. Scott Walker have been receiving middle-of-the-night death threats, as they've been circulating petitions to gather signatures in an effort to recall the state's controversial anti-union Republican Governor.

According to WISC-TV/Channel 3000 in Madison...

The threats involved phone calls from an area code in Minnesota. The calls came overnight after Walker's opponents began the recall, said Madison resident Tom Peer, who said he received a call at 2 a.m. on Thursday.

"They said, 'If you don't stop circulating recall petitions, we will kill you,'" said Peer.

A similar call came to Heather DuBois Bourenane, of Sun Prairie. The United Wisconsin recall worker jumped out of bed when her phone rang around 4 a.m. on Thursday.

"He said I had attracted the attention of some very bad people, and my life and the lives of my family were in danger," Bourenane said.

She called Sun Prairie police, who confirmed investigators were working on the case.

The news outlet also reports that yard signs supporting the Recall Walker effort have repeatedly been stolen off the property of several home owners.

Last week, we reported on the plans to sabotage the signature gathering effort being discussed openly on a number of Facebook pages. Walker supporters on those pages had been seen talking about their plans to gather signatures in liberal areas of the state and then burn or shred the petitions, rather than turn them in. One person had claimed he'd "be able to destroy 15-20k signatures" or, if granted access to even more petitions, he'd "be able to destroy upwards of 15-20% of the entire collected ballots in the state of Wisconsin."

Reid Magney, the Public Information Officer for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state's top election authority, told The BRAD BLOG via email late last week that defrauding petitions is a felony crime, and that his agency has been in touch with law enforcement about the purported sabotage schemes...

He said, however, he could not offer specifics, under state law, about any discussions with specific District Attorneys. "We are prohibited from commenting on whether we have referred matters to a DA," he explained.

More generally, he was able to say: "I can tell you we have had discussions with District Attorneys about the issue of destruction of recall petitions and we take these allegations seriously. We hope law enforcement will be able to devote resources to this issue."

Caledonia Patch reporter Denise Lockwood subsequently ran two reports last week quoting a local man in Racine who claimed he'd gathered 150 signatures and had planned to not turn those in, as required by law. He also told her that he knew of two other friends who planned to do the same, and that he had been informed through online discussion that some 1,000 others in Wisconsin were planning to similarly --- and illegally --- undermine the process.

After Lockwood's first article was published, the man subsequently claimed he'd had a change of heart, and so had one of his two friends.

"It’s not the right thing to do, we should have known better," the unnamed source is quoted as telling Lockwood who told The BRAD BLOG she personally knows the area man, but did not identify him by name in her reports. She says he'd only agreed to be interviewed on the matter if she agreed not to name him.

On Friday, while guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show, I interviewed Lockwood about the matter, and the journalistic ethics surrounding withholding the name of a man who'd claimed to be in the process of conspiring to commit a felony crime, and who was said to have information on others, potentially hundreds, participating in a scheme to defraud the Recall Walker effort.

You can listen to my 11/18/11 interview with Denise Lockwood here:
Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 18 mins]...

Supporters of the Recall Walker effort have a tough hill to climb. They need to gather well over half a million signatures before mid-January in order to put the Governor onto the ballot for a recall election.

Nonetheless, supporters are optimistic. Over the weekend, Democratic backers of the effort held a rally which drew some 25,000 to 30,000 people on a cold, rainy Saturday, according to estimates from the WI State Dept. of Administration reported by Wisconsin State Journal.

At TPM, Eric Kleefeld reports that United Wisconsin, the group managing the recall effort, claims to have already gathered more than 100,000 signatures during their first four days last week, Tuesday through Friday.

On the effort's first day, United Wisconsin reported Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were directed at their website, making it inaccessible for a period of time.

Dirty tricks like the ones against the Democrats and labor supporters in the Recall Walker campaign are not new to the Badger State, unfortunately. In our report on the alleged plans to sabotage that effort last week, we detailed a number of other dirty tricks that have been carried out over the past year by supporters of Gov. Walker and by his surrogates at the Koch Brothers-founded Americans for Prosperity.

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