MADISON - Three recall elections are set and more could follow involving state senators.
The Government Accountability Board members heard legal arguments challenging the recall of Republican State Senators Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, Luther Olsen of Ripon and Dan Kapanke of La Crosse.
Eric McCleod, the attorney representing all three senators, did not make a big deal out of the relatively few petition signatures that were being questioned for their validity. Instead he made a case that the recall applications in each case were incomplete--and therefore the entire petitions collected should be thrown out.
"Fatally defective," McCleod called the petition form filed with the GAB. "Because the petitioner Patrick Sheller failed to complete the registration process before circulating the petition as required."
At issue is a missing signature on the paperwork. Jeremy Levinson, the attorney for the recall campaigns, argued the signature was not needed.
"I would suggest that would undermine the clear command of the statutes that at the end of the day the will of the electorates is what's important," said Levinson.
And the board agreed--rejecting the legal challenges first in the Kapanke case. Then the others quickly followed suit.
"That's what is nice about being the government once you decide what the law says that's what the law," said Levinson. "By practical matter I believe (the ruling) turns back all the Republican challenges."
"We respectfully disagree with the board's legal determination concerning our challenge to the sufficiency of the petition," said McCleod.
The board's staff had recommended approval after carefully scrutinizing the forms and petitions themselves. The board did rule on throwing out a small fraction of the signatures, but in each case thousands of extra signatures were collected to allow the recall election process to proceed.
In denying the legal challenges on behalf of the candidates the board set recall elections to be held for Hopper, Olsen and Kapanke on July 12th.
They are among nine lawmakers, six Republicans and three Democrats, targeted for recalls for their positions on GOP Gov. Scott Walker's proposal taking away collective bargaining rights from most state workers.
The board plans to evaluate the challenges to those six remaining recall petitions at its May 31 meeting, and likely would certify all the petitions that same week.
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