Wisconsin Recall Election Debate: Scott Walker and Tom Barrett Square Off


Governor Scott Walker has been talking about protecting Wisconsin taxpayers a lot in his campaign to keep his seat in the June 5 recall election, but it appears some taxpayers are getting more help than others. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Walker’s biggest donor, the Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, paid zero state income tax in 2010. Scott Bianchini, the tax director for Hendricks' company, ABC Supply Inc. “declined to comment when asked whether Hendricks, who is chairman of ABC, had other income such as salary or dividends that could have been taxed in 2010.” Hendricks has been in the public eye recently after a video was released in which Hendricks asks Walker about how to make Wisconsin a “red state” and if he will implement anti-union “Right to Work” laws. Walker responded by saying his “first step” was to "divide and conquer" unions. Hendricks subsequently gave Walker $510,000 for his recall campaign making her his top donor.

RNC Setting the Stage for “Voter Fraud” Claims if there is a Close Election. The chairman of the Republican National Committee told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that GOP candidates need to perform 1 or 2 percentage points better than they otherwise would in order to overcome voter fraud. "I'm always concerned about voter fraud, you know, being from Kenosha, and quite frankly having lived through seeing some of it happen," Reince Priebus said. "Certainly in Milwaukee we have seen some of it, and I think it's been documented. Any notion that's not the case, it certainly is in Wisconsin. I'm always concerned about it, which is why I think we need to do a point or two better than where we think we need to be, to overcome it."

Sound familiar? Governor Walker said the same thing a few days ago: "I’ve always thought in this state, close elections, presidential elections, it means you probably have to win with at least 53 percent of the vote to account for fraud. One or two points, potentially," Walker told the right-wing Weekly Standard. This theme has been picked up by right-wing talk radio. WTMJ Radio personality Charlie Sykes raised the specter of voter fraud on his TV show this Sunday saying: "Let's say Tom Barrett were to win this election by, say, 7,000 votes, I can tell you right now: There is not a single conservative, not a single Republican in the state of Wisconsin that would think that was a legitimate election, that it was not stolen.”

There is no data to support these claims. After an in-depth investigation by Wisconsin’s Republican Attorney General into twelve Wisconsin counties after the 2008 presidential election, only 20 people were charged. Of these, the vast majority were former felons who were not aware they were not allowed to vote in the state and only two instances of double voting were recorded. Many speculate that the Republicans are concerned by public and internal tracking polls, showing that the race is tightening.

Walker and Barrett Second and Final Debate Tonight. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will have their second and final debate tonight at 9 p.m. The debate is being hosted by the Milwaukee TV station WISN 12, and will be hosted by Mike Gousha. The debate will be one hour long and will be broadcast live on ABC affiliates around the state and livestreamed on the WISN website. This will be the final debate before the June 5 recall election.

MacIver Institute Highlights the Horrors of Early Voting. As the June 5 recall election approaches and polls show the race tightening, the right-wing MacIver Institute is focusing on the dangers of early voting. Five of the ten top stories on their website on May 30 raised questions and concerns about early voting. Voters in Wisconsin are allowed to go to their county clerk’s office in advance of an election and vote in person. This allows poll workers and campaign volunteers the ability to work the polls on election day without having to worry about getting to the polls first. One MacIver story detailed a trip taken by Pulaski High School students to their local county clerk’s office to vote. The MacIver report casts doubt on the legitimacy of these votes with the headline “Early Voting Students Use Class Schedules to Prove Residency, Not Identity, at Milwaukee Polls.” The students could hardly provide their parents' utility bills as proof of residency. The article later admits that the students did not break any election law. The Government Accountability Board (GAB) announced on May 29 that early voting was quite high for the recall election and they expect 60 to 65 percent voter turnout on election day itself. The last day for early voting in Wisconsin is Friday, June 1.

Planned Parenthood Jumps into Recall Races with a Series of Ads this Week. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin Political Fund is running ads in the recall race between incumbent Republican Senator Van Wanggaard and his challenger, former Democratic Senator John Lehman. Their ad tells the story of a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and says “Senator Wanggaard voted to limit access to lifesaving cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood,” referring to funding cuts in the Wisconsin budget bill. According to Politifact, “the budget did take away money Planned Parenthood said it used to serve 12,000 women in nine counties. Women can still use the clinics, but clearly Planned Parenthood is less able to provide services.” The money did not fund abortions, but did fund family planning services as well as basic health care.

This article originally appeared on PR Watch.