White House insists hackers didn’t sway election, even as recount begins

161126-Barack-Obama-AP_16325844478347.jpg

I’m certain that the POTUS had no choice but to put on a unified front for the sake of…if not the appearance of comity within the American political process…

POLITICO

The Obama administration said it has seen no evidence of hackers tampering with the 2016 presidential election, even as recount proceedings began in Wisconsin.

“We stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people,” a senior administration official told POLITICO late Friday.

“The federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day,” the official added. “We believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”

Green Party candidate Jill Stein on Friday filed for a recount in Wisconsin and has several days to file for recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, two other states whose results she has called into question, citing hacking fears. The three normally Democratically leaning states were crucial to Donald Trump’s victory.

Stein’s campaign began fundraising efforts to file for recounts in those states following a report from New York magazine that said prominent cybersecurity experts were urging Hillary Clinton’s campaign to contest the results there. The leading voting security specialist from that group later clarified that there was no actual evidence of hackers meddling with the vote tallies, and said they were simply encouraging an audit just to be sure.

On Saturday, the Clinton campaign broke its long silence on the issue with a statement from the campaign’s general counsel, Marc Elias.

In a post on Medium, Elias confirmed that independent experts had briefed the campaign on potential irregularities that could be the result of hacking, but he said that ultimately the campaign found no “actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology.”

The senior Obama administration official reiterated the government’s accusation that Russia had directed its hackers to go after U.S. political organizations and political operatives’ email accounts with the goal of interfering in the election.

Moscow, the official said, “probably expected that publicity surrounding” leaked emails and documents “would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the president-elect.”

The official had earlier provided the statement to The New York Times.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson Stands By Trump, But Won’t Say His Name

John Hart

TPM NEWS

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson stuck by Donald Trump in a debate Friday without actually saying the presidential candidate’s name.

Referring to Trump as “our Republican nominee,” Johnson said he supports him on a number of issues, including securing the border and fighting the Islamic State terrorist group, but that he’s also “not going to defend the indefensible.”

Johnson’s Democratic opponent, former Sen. Russ Feingold, challenged Johnson to renounce Trump, who’s been battered by accusations of sexual misbehavior. Trump has denied the allegations.

“This is one of these times where you have to be an American first, not a politician running for office, not a Republican or Democrat, but an American who’s worried about the future of our great country,” Feingold said.

The presidential race has cast a shadow over Wisconsin’s Senate campaign, as Johnson said he supports but does not endorse Trump. He’s spoken out against Trump on a number of issues, most recently denouncing his crude comments about women that were captured in a video released last week. Johnson also has not campaigned with Trump in Wisconsin and planned to skip an upcoming rally Trump had planned for Monday in Green Bay, the same city where Friday’s debate took place.

“I’ve not been shy in disagreeing with our candidate, with our nominee. I’m not going to defend the indefensible.” Johnson said during the debate.

Feingold challenged Johnson to follow the lead of other Republican senators in tough re-election fights, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, in not supporting Trump.

“He doesn’t have the temperament to be president,” Feingold said of Trump. “He’s used divisiveness, saying horrible things about various ethnic groups and others in this country to get himself the nomination. And it appears he’s done a lot of other inappropriate things. This is no person to be a role model for the people of our country. Frankly, I think it will be very frightening for the rest of the world if we elected Donald Trump.”

Feingold supports Democrat Hillary Clinton and has curried favor with the more liberal wing of the party by campaigning with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren this month.

Johnson said Friday that Clinton was “completely disqualified from being president” because of how she handled the Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead and her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Johnson said Feingold “must be the last American who thinks Hillary Clinton is trustworthy.”

Feingold and Johnson are familiar debate opponents: They squared off three times in 2010, a race Johnson won, ending Feingold’s 18-year run in the Senate.

Democrats see Johnson as vulnerable in a presidential election year when Democratic turnout in Wisconsin is expected to be strong. A Marquette University Law School poll released this week showed the race to be about even.

Unlike with the presidential debates, neither Feingold nor Johnson interrupted each other during Friday’s hourlong contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. Both also refrained from hurling the type of insults that have become common in the presidential race, though they did have sharp disagreements.

Feingold took Johnson to task for claiming that Feingold as a senator had known about problems at the Veterans Affairs medical facility in Tomah but did nothing. Feingold said Johnson was “saying something he knows isn’t true” about when Feingold found out about the over-prescription of drugs at the Tomah VA.

Feingold pledged to fight to raise the federal minimum wage, require paid medical leave, oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, work to fight climate change and allow college students to refinance student loan debt.

Johnson branded Feingold a “career politician” whose solution to every problem is growing government. Johnson, who built a plastics manufacturing company in Wisconsin before being elected to the Senate six years ago, said his private business background makes him more qualified to know what policies will work to create jobs and spur economic development.

SCOTT BAUER

A Federal Court Orders Wisconsin to Stop Suppressing the Vote

Wisconsin voting sign

(Reuters / Jim Young)

THE NATION

The state must investigate the DMV’s failure to issue voter-IDs in time for the November election.

On Wednesday, The Nation published an exclusive story showing how the DMV in Wisconsin was systematically failing to provide the voter-IDs required to cast a ballot this election. We told the story of two African-American voters, Zack Moore and Claudell Boyd, who brought multiple documents with them to the DMV confirming their identities but were still turned away without the necessary voter-ID. Recordings from the DMV provided to The Nation detailed how Moore and Boyd were not offered certificates for voting within six business days, as required by Wisconsin law.

Today federal district court Judge James Peterson ordered the state toinvestigate the DMV and the voter-ID process. “Recent news stories inMilwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Nation have reported that DMV personnel have provided incorrect information to persons who have applied for Wisconsin IDs for voting,” Peterson wrote. “These reports, if true, demonstrate that the state is not in compliance with this court’s injunction order, which requires the state to ‘[p]romptly issue a credential valid as a voting ID to any person who enters the IDPP or who has a petition pending.’”

He ordered the state to report back to the court by October 7. “The report should explain the scope of the investigation, its results, and any corrective action to be taken,” Peterson wrote.

This is significant because 300,000 registered voters do not have a valid voter-ID, 9 percent of the electorate, and many are still struggling to obtain one. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Wisconsin’s voter-ID law based on the premise that the state would make IDs accessible to every eligible voter—which it is clearly not doing.

Wisconsin is not the first state to disregard a court order to make it easier to vote. Texas issued misleading information after the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered the state to soften its voter-ID law and counties in North Carolina cut early voting after the Fourth Circuit restored early voting days. Republicans like Scott Walker seem to believe that suppressing the vote is the only way they can win.

Ari Berman

As Courts Strike Down Discriminatory Voter ID Laws, RNC Delegates Cry ‘Voter Fraud’

CREDIT: KIRA LERNER | Milwaukee election commissioner Bob Spindell said he has seen no issues with his state’s voter ID law.

THINK PROGRESS

The cleaner the election, the better chance the Republicans have.

CLEVELAND, OHIO — As the Republican National Convention unfolded in Cleveland this week with the Republican Party officially calling for measures to make it harder for people to vote, two different courts across the country issued rulings easing those restrictions.

Federal judges this week ruled against voter identification laws in Wisconsin and then Texas, finding that they disproportionately impact minority voters and violate the Voting Rights Act. Those photo ID laws, which have become more prevalent across the country in the years since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013, are formally included in the GOP platform.

“We support legislation to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and secure photo ID when voting,” the document reads. “We strongly oppose litigation against states exercising their sovereign authority to enact such laws.”

Despite evidence that voter fraud is virtually non-existent and that photo ID laws keep younger, low-income, minority voters from participating in elections, Republican delegates told ThinkProgress the two recent court decisions will hurt democracy and compromise elections.

“Why do we even have any sort of laws? Why do we have speed limits? Why do we have any keys on any doors?” Milwaukee election commissioner and delegate Bob Spindell asked. “We need laws in place because if the election is such, there’s no way really to go back afterwards and see what had happened, if somebody was legit or somebody was not.”

In the ruling this week, the Wisconsin judge found that the fears of voter fraud are not legitimate enough to warrant the suppressive laws. A Wisconsin study examining the 2004 election found just seven cases of fraud among the 3 million votes cast in the state’s 2004 election, and none were the kind of fraud that would be prevented by a voter ID law.

Nonetheless, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) called the recent court ruling unfortunate and said it will allow Democrats to commit voter fraud.

“I find it interesting that the Democrats don’t care that you’ve got to present a photo ID to get medication, they don’t care about that, but they do care about photo ID for voting, which makes me wonder if they’re doing something wrong about the voting,” he told ThinkProgress from the floor of the RNC.

Also standing among Wisconsin’s delegation near the RNC arena stage, Spindell said Tuesday that he has been involved in the past several elections in Milwaukee and has seen “no problem whatsoever” with the state’s voter ID law.

“I don’t know of even one instance in the city of Milwaukee during the last couple of elections where there was a problem where somebody couldn’t have an ID or didn’t have an ID and couldn’t vote,” he said.

As ThinkProgress reported during the Wisconsin primary in April, Milwaukee students were forced to wait in long lines to register and cast ballots on election day, in large part because the state’s voter ID law does not accept student IDs. Across the state, non-white voters were more likely to request a free ID card and were more likely to be denied from the polls.

Noting that impact, the Wisconsin federal judge this week shot down the law because it would be “impossible or nearly impossible” for thousands of qualified voters to obtain a free ID card in order to cast a ballot. The ruling will allow Wisconsin citizens to vote without ID this November if they sign an affidavit attesting to their identity.

Spindell said that the acceptance of affidavits, coupled with Wisconsin’s allowance of same-day voter registration, will lead to people committing voter fraud. “You can just walk in with all sorts of IDs, whether it be a payroll check or any kind of ID,” he said. “What can happen is they can register and go vote, and there’s no way of checking on them into well after the election.”

Texas' delegation watches the RNC speakers.

Texas’ delegation watches the RNC speakers  CREDIT: KIRA LERNER

In perhaps an even more important decision for civil rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down a decision Wednesday finding that Texas’ voter ID law violates the VRA. But instead of striking down the law, the appeals court left it up to the district court to decide how to move forward and whether or not the law should be in place during the general election.

If the court strikes the law down before November, Jim Lowder, a Texas delegate who serves as the GOP chairman in Amarillo, Texas, said that we can expect to see Democrats committing voter fraud.

“How many cases of Republican voter fraud have we had in the past several years? Virtually none,” he told ThinkProgress. “How many of Democrat voter fraud? There have been some. We’re not trying to go after anybody, but we need to do the right thing by everybody.”

As the Fifth Circuit noted this week, studies have found that Texas’ voter ID disproportionately hurts minorities — mainly Hispanic and black voters. Yet Republican lawmakers and delegates in Texas insist that the laws have no negative effects.

“I’ve worked in the polls,” Lowder said. “We have a real fair system. Anybody that tries to discourage someone else is not allowed to do so. I’m concerned about voter fraud, but I’m concerned that everybody that can legally vote can do so.”

A total of 33 states will have laws in place this year requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. As many advocates and reporters have noted, those laws have the ability to swing elections in favor of Republicans.

Some lawmakers, like Grothman, have even admitted that their purpose is to help Republicans win elections. From Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday, Grothman attempted to explain his admission that photo ID will help Republicans win in Wisconsin.

“I think the cleaner the election, the better chance the Republicans have,” he said.

Alice Ollstein contributed reporting.

As Courts Strike Down Discriminatory Voter ID Laws, RNC Delegates Cry ‘Voter Fraud’

Milwaukee election commissioner Bob Spindell | Credit: Kira Lerner

THINK PROGRESS

CLEVELAND, OHIO — As the Republican National Convention unfolded in Cleveland this week with the Republican Party officially calling for measures to make it harder for people to vote, two different courts across the country issued rulings easing those restrictions.

Federal judges this week ruled against voter identification laws in Wisconsin and then Texas, finding that they disproportionately impact minority voters and violate the Voting Rights Act. Those photo ID laws, which have become more prevalent across the country in the years since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013, are formally included in the GOP platform.

“We support legislation to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and secure photo ID when voting,” the document reads. “We strongly oppose litigation against states exercising their sovereign authority to enact such laws.”

Despite evidence that voter fraud is virtually non-existent and that photo ID laws keep younger, low-income, minority voters from participating in elections, Republican delegates told ThinkProgress the two recent court decisions will hurt democracy and compromise elections.

“Why do we even have any sort of laws? Why do we have speed limits? Why do we have any keys on any doors?” Milwaukee election commissioner and delegate Bob Spindell asked. “We need laws in place because if the election is such, there’s no way really to go back afterwards and see what had happened, if somebody was legit or somebody was not.”

In the ruling this week, the Wisconsin judge found that the fears of voter fraud are not legitimate enough to warrant the suppressive laws. A Wisconsin study examining the 2004 election found just seven cases of fraud among the 3 million votes cast in the state’s 2004 election, and none were the kind of fraud that would be prevented by a voter ID law.

Nonetheless, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) called the recent court ruling unfortunate and said it will allow Democrats to commit voter fraud.

“I find it interesting that the Democrats don’t care that you’ve got to present a photo ID to get medication, they don’t care about that, but they do care about photo ID for voting, which makes me wonder if they’re doing something wrong about the voting,” he told ThinkProgress from the floor of the RNC.

Also standing among Wisconsin’s delegation near the RNC arena stage, Spindell said Tuesday that he has been involved in the past several elections in Milwaukee and has seen “no problem whatsoever” with the state’s voter ID law.

“I don’t know of even one instance in the city of Milwaukee during the last couple of elections where there was a problem where somebody couldn’t have an ID or didn’t have an ID and couldn’t vote,” he said.

As ThinkProgress reported during the Wisconsin primary in April, Milwaukee students were forced to wait in long lines to register and cast ballots on election day, in large part because the state’s voter ID law does not accept student IDs. Across the state, non-white voters were more likely to request a free ID card and were more likely to be denied from the polls.

Noting that impact, the Wisconsin federal judge this week shot down the law because it would be “impossible or nearly impossible” for thousands of qualified voters to obtain a free ID card in order to cast a ballot. The ruling will allow Wisconsin citizens to vote without ID this November if they sign an affidavit attesting to their identity.

Spindell said that the acceptance of affidavits, coupled with Wisconsin’s allowance of same-day voter registration, will lead to people committing voter fraud. “You can just walk in with all sorts of IDs, whether it be a payroll check or any kind of ID,” he said. “What can happen is they can register and go vote, and there’s no way of checking on them into well after the election.”

Texas' delegation watches the RNC speakers.

Texas’ delegation watches the RNC speakers | CREDIT: KIRA LERNER

In perhaps an even more important decision for civil rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down a decision Wednesday finding that Texas’ voter ID law violates the VRA. But instead of striking down the law, the appeals court left it up to the district court to decide how to move forward and whether or not the law should be in place during the general election.

If the court strikes the law down before November, Jim Lowder, a Texas delegate who serves as the GOP chairman in Amarillo, Texas, said that we can expect to see Democrats committing voter fraud.

“How many cases of Republican voter fraud have we had in the past several years? Virtually none,” he told ThinkProgress. “How many of Democrat voter fraud? There have been some. We’re not trying to go after anybody, but we need to do the right thing by everybody.”

As the Fifth Circuit noted this week, studies have found that Texas’ voter ID disproportionately hurts minorities — mainly Hispanic and black voters. Yet Republican lawmakers and delegates in Texas insist that the laws have no negative effects.

“I’ve worked in the polls,” Lowder said. “We have a real fair system. Anybody that tries to discourage someone else is not allowed to do so. I’m concerned about voter fraud, but I’m concerned that everybody that can legally vote can do so.”

A total of 33 states will have laws in place this year requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. As many advocates and reporters have noted, those laws have the ability to swing elections in favor of Republicans.

Some lawmakers, like Grothman, have even admitted that their purpose is to help Republicans win elections. From Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday, Grothman attempted to explain his admission that photo ID will help Republicans win in Wisconsin.

“I think the cleaner the election, the better chance the Republicans have,” he said.

Kira Lerner

Seth Meyers utterly destroys Republicans for trying to win elections by screwing over voters

Seth Meyers (YouTube)

Seth Meyers (YouTube)

RAW STORY

Seth Meyers blamed lengthy delays faced by Wisconsin voters on the state’s new voter ID laws — which one Republican lawmaker admitted were intended to help his party maintain its grip on power.

State Rep. Glenn Grothman told a reporter after Tuesday’s primary that he expected the new law to help the GOP presidential candidate, whoever that is, win the state’s general election.

“Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up and now we have voter ID and I think voter ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well,” Grothmann said.

Perhaps, Meyers said, the lawmaker had said too much.

“Oh, no, no, no,” Meyers said. “You’re not supposed to say that out loud. That’s like a dude rolling up in a Corvette and saying, ‘You know, I bought this to compensate for my tiny penis.’”

Meyers said the mess in Wisconsin is just the latest example of how poorly run the nation’s voting process has become.

Similar laws caused chaos in North Carolina — where one Indian immigrant was ordered to spell his own name before he voted.

“That’s terrible news for the nation’s Kaileys,” Meyers said. “So many ways you can go, Kayleigh. This is America — the only time you should have to spell your own name is when you’re screaming it on a call with Time Warner Cable.”

He said the most shocking example of electoral dysfunction was last month in Arizona, where thousands of voters waited hours to vote after officials shut down polling places in a cost-cutting move.

“If you’ve been waiting in line so long the pizza place is willing to deliver to you, you’re going to be frustrated,” Meyers said. “‘Is that a house or an apartment?’ ‘It’s a line — I live in a line.’”

The official who decided to eliminate 70 percent of her county’s polling places blamed the mess on “voters for getting in line.”

“Before they showed up it was a perfectly nice sidewalk,” Meyers said.

He asked viewers to imagine what will happen if one of these states turns out to be instrumental in deciding the next president, saying the situation could lead to enough fiasco like the 2000 election in Florida.

“No one wants to see any of these candidates in an Al Gore sadness beard,” Meyers said.

Watch the entire segment posted online by Late Night With Seth Meyers:

The quiet, vicious racism of Scott Walker’s Wisconsin

The quiet, vicious racism of Scott Walker's Wisconsin

(Credit: AP/Mark J. Terrill)

SALON

Pity Scott Walker and the Republicans of Wisconsin. Here they have taken the time and energy to gain power partly by using racial dog whistles, and along comes a group of white nationalists to make the once-implicit coded language suddenly explicit. And it’s happening just as the political world turns its eyes to the state for today’s big primary. With a voter-ID law passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Walker and threatening to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of mostly minority voters in this election, the last thing the Koch brothers’ favorite governor wants is people who are going to say the quiet parts out loud.

Which is why Walker on Monday was condemning the robocalls from the American National Super PAC and its white nationalist founder William Johnson that have been flooding landlines in Wisconsin over the last few days. The call — narrated by an elderly woman in the soothing tones of your racist grandmother complaining over Sunday dinner about her new black neighbors — assures listeners that Trump “will respect all women and help preserve western civilization.” In the world of white nationalists, this is code for “Will keep the hordes of Latino immigrants and black welfare cheats from stealing your tax dollars and destroying America as you know it.”

As racist robocalls go, this was fairly mild, at least compared to Johnson’s efforts in earlier primaries. But it is worth noting that Walker’s upset, if only for the irony. After all, the lightning rod of a governor, a man so dull his idea of spicing up his food probably means pouring castor oil on it, built his power base in the state in the almost-exclusively-white suburbs of Milwaukee, one of the most racially polarized metropolitan areas of the country.

The New Republic took a deep dive into Walker’s world two years ago. What the magazine found was a city and its suburbs even more segregated than most, where the chairman of one county’s Republican Party could still refer to one mostly African-American neighborhood in Milwaukee, in 2014, as “the colored section.” Where white flight between 1960 and 2010 was so high it tripled the population of three formerly rural counties around Milwaukee, while the percentage of African-American residents in those three counties is under 2 percent. Where the black poverty rate within the city is the second-highest in the country.

This is the world that has coddled Walker as he traveled up through the ranks of the Republican Party. As a member of the state Assembly, the executive of Milwaukee County, and now governor, he has spent his entire career deeply slicing budgets for programs that benefit inner-city African-Americans, such as public transportation. He has also pushed for private-school vouchers that decimate public education and advocated for privatizing prisons, all while cutting taxes to ensure that funding levels for these civic outlays are unlikely to be restored anytime soon, if ever.

He has done all this in a climate of racial polarization fueled by talk-radio hosts like Charlie Sykes (whom Donald Trump, ironically, ran afoul of just last week). Local talk radio, according to the New Republic story, traffics in the same sorts of white resentment politics that have fueled the rise of national stars like Rush Limbaugh over the last thirty years. Talkers like Sykes (who regularly refers to Michelle Obama as “Mooch”) have grown rich spewing racial divisiveness. And one of their most regular guests, throughout his long career in Wisconsin politics, has been Scott Walker, who would verbally wink at Sykes’s listeners while talking about policies that would never harm the host’s mostly white audience.

Given this environment, why wouldn’t a white nationalist like William Johnson think he has found some fertile territory to shill for Donald Trump, who is basically one white bedsheet and pillowcase with eyeholes away from being a KKK Grand Wizard?

Yet Walker and some of his allies in the local media have rallied to condemn Trumpas a big-city know-nothing, a polarizing figure whom Sykes, in what surely will enter the pantheon of history’s least self-aware statements, complained is failing to adhere to Wisconsin’s “tradition of civility and decency.”

That this is all happening during the first election in which Wisconsin’s new voter-ID law is in effect only increases the irony. The law is part of the broader effort by Republicans both in Wisconsin and other states to limit the voting power of traditional Democratic constituencies. The Wisconsin law could disenfranchise as many as 300,000 mostly minority and student voters who want to cast votes today. Since this law is only possible because the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, which was first passed to protect the voting rights of minorities, it is impossible to see it as a colorblind act that, as defenders of voter-ID laws so often tell us, is only here to protect against nonexistent voter fraud.

Of course it is unlikely that Walker and his allies see themselves as racists. But that does not change the racist effects of the laws they pass and the poison they spew at Milwaukee’s suburban commuters as they sit in traffic on a daily basis. Donald Trump has simply taken this inherent racism and brought it out into the open. In doing so, he has attracted the support of outright racists – excuse me, “white nationalists” – like William Johnson, and all of a sudden Wisconsin’s Republicans, like many party members nationwide, are doing their best impression of Captain Renault, proclaiming themselves shocked, SHOCKED to discover there is gambling going on here. Their act would be a lot more believable if they had not spent their careers advocating for a worldview that, stripped of the code words and dog whistles, is nearly indistinguishable from the one they now decry.

Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here’s how you know the state’s voter ID law is a complete sham

Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here's how you know the state's voter ID law is a complete sham

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas – RTR4NN60(Credit: Reuters)

SALON

No rule in politics is absolute, but, generally speaking, you’d be well served to keep this one in mind: If a politician is not willing to spend money on something they say they support, then their support is about as real as Santa Claus.

Unless you view politics as nothing more than an entertaining pastime for overeducated squares who weren’t cute enough to make it in Hollywood — i.e., you actually look forward to “nerd prom,” God help you — then the point of the whole endeavor is to get big things done.

And getting big things done not only requires money but, perhaps more importantly, requires conflict. This is often because someone’s going to have to pony up, I’ll admit. But that’s not always the case; and sometimes the rejection involves turning down money, too. (See: the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.)

All of which is to say something that’s been said about politics countless times already, and will no doubt be said again and again and again: Talk is cheap. And cheap is something that public policy — if it’s good, at least — usually is not.

So when you read this report from Pro Publica’s Sarah Smith, what it should tell you, as if you didn’t know already, is that the legislature in Wisconsin couldn’t care less when it comes to improving its elections. Because that is not what its voter ID law is about:

On April 5, when voters cast ballots in Wisconsin’s Republican and Democratic primaries, the state’s controversial voter ID bill will face its biggest test since Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011. For the first time in a major election, citizens will be required to show approved forms of identification in order to vote. The law mandates that the state run a public-service campaign “in conjunction with the first regularly scheduled primary and election” to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable.

But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign. The result is that thousands of citizens may be turned away from the polls simply because they did not understand what form of identification they needed to vote.

Doesn’t look too good for those who argue that, contrary to Democrats’ claims, voter ID laws are not intended to suppress the Democratic vote, does it? Well, it gets worse.

Because this isn’t a case of bureaucratic miscommunication; this isn’t about the state government’s left hand not knowing what its right hand is doing. According to Smith’s reporting, the decision to provide a statewide education campaign with all of zero dollars was about as intentional-looking as it gets:

Wisconsin’s failure to fund these public-service ads comes after a clash between the Government Accountability Board, the nonpartisan agency responsible for producing voter education materials, and the Republican-controlled legislature. In October, the agency met with Republican State Senator Mary Lazich, who was a primary sponsor of the voter ID bill in 2011, to inquire after funding and received a tepid response.

The board told Lazich that it would need $300,000 to $500,000 from the state legislature to broadcast advertisements. The legislature had twice appropriated money for public information campaigns during the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, but the ads barely hit the airwaves before court injunctions delayed the law from going into effect.

According to Kevin Kennedy, the board’s director and general counsel, Lazich thanked the board for the information, but didn’t make any promises. Lazich did not respond to requests for comment from ProPublica.

It gets better (by which, again, I mean worse). Not only did Lazich essentially ghost the Government Accountability Board, but the board was unable to find some other ally in the legislature. Why? Because the legislature was in the process of destroying the board altogether:

After the meeting, the Government Accountability Board decided against making a formal funding request to the legislature, which had already introduced a bill to dismantle the agency.

“We weren’t sure we would have a receptive audience,” Kennedy told ProPublica.

Two days after the meeting, the Wisconsin Assembly voted to replace the nonpartisan board with two partisan agencies by the end of June 2016. Since 2012, Republicans have attacked the board after it investigated, among other things, whether Governor Walker coordinated with outside political groups during the recount battle that gripped the state. Judicial orders stalled the investigation, and the board eventually took itself out of the probe. Walker, cleared of wrongdoing, survived the scandal.

The whole thing is so shameless and tawdry, you could be forgiven for wanting to simply shake your head and think about something else. And if you did, you’d simply be following the state legislature’s lead.

After all, it’s not like there’s a problem, here — at least as far as they see it. With anywhere between 200,000 to 350,000 Wisconsin citizens potentially facing disenfranchisement, according to Smith’s report, the voter ID law is on pace to work exactly as intended. Not in word, but deed.

“Scott Walker, Please Come Home” says Major Wisconsin Editorial

Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the North Carolina Republican Party convention in Raleigh, N.C., earlier this month | Associated Press

DAILY KOS

The headline just says it all. Things are so bad here in the Legislature that the newspaper is begging Scott Walker to come home, if only for a short time.This isn’t from The Onion, but from the most highly read Wisconsin newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One that has endorsed Scott Walker, tends to ignore his bad news, and prints his talking points like Gospel.

But here in Wisconsin, the budget he proposed last winter is foundering, and not because of Democratic opposition but because his Republican colleagues can’t come to terms. Last week, Republican leaders were sniping at each other over whether Assembly Republicans wanted to delaythe reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange to build pressure for increasing the gas tax or vehicle registration fees.The impasse is apparently over how to pay for the transportation budget and how to finance a deal for a new arena in downtown Milwaukee. These are big issues, and they deserve Walker’s attention. In addition, as an editorial on Friday on this page noted, there are a host of items in the budget that simply shouldn’t be there. Mainly, they’re non-budget items sneaked into the budget with little discussion or public input, a practice that candidate Walker decried in 2010. In an informal Journal Sentinel poll last week, readers overwhelmingly were giving the Legislature an F grade on its handling of the budget.

(bolding is mine)I’ve also written about the mayhem that Republican Legislators brought to the budget process while Walker has been out campaigning (unannounced) for President. And, in an editorial last week, the newspapers’ editorial staff seemed to agree.

But there’s another problem with this budget: It’s so full of non-budget dead weight that it’s kind of amazing it doesn’t just sink of its own accord.On their own, many of these items are worthy of discussion and may be even worthy of passage. But most are policy matters that have little or nothing to do with the state’s fiscal books. They deserve full and separate consideration — including public hearings and a healthy public debate — before they become law. Instead, they’ve been quietly inserted into the budget, often in the wee hours, to avoid public scrutiny. Citizens should demand they be removed from the budget; legislators should have the decency to do so.

(bolding is mine)

It’s bad enough that Walker has not only completely flip flopped on his 2010 campaign promise to not use the budget for non-budgetary items, but crammed his policy agenda into each and every budget (starting with busting the unions of all public employees in Wisconsin in his infamous Budget Repair Bill).  Now Republican Legislators have followed Walkers’ lead inserting every item on their policy wish list into the budget this year.

For example, in 2010, Gov. Scott Walker’s  campaign website proclaimed he would “Strip policy and pork projects from the state budget. The budget process should be about funding essential government services based on the taxpayers’ ability to pay. It should not be about horse trading for special interest groups or establishing talking points for the next campaign.”The governor was right then, but his office turned its back on that sound good government philosophy by loading up this budget with policy items, including items on education, long-term health care and natural resources. And then the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee got into the act.

Walker has found it to be a great strategy for getting policy items passed since there are so many of them that most go unnoticed in an 1800 page budget. And even those that do get noticed, like his recent attempt to change the mission statement of our State University system, are only occasionally removed when lame excuses (“the University requested the change” – lie) and placing blame elsewhere (“it was a drafting error” – lie) don’t work. The rest simply pass right on through with no debate and no discussion.

Loading up the budget with non-budgetary items is no way to run a government. Walker acknowledged that in 2010.

Yes, he acknowledged that in his campaign. By now, however, we know that Walker says one thing during a campaign and then does something else after he’s elected;  and this should serve as a warning to Republican primary voters. He doesn’t keep his promises.What you get with Walker is government by surprise. Well, not so much “governing” either. It become more like imperial “ruling” than governing. Using his elected office to repay donors and batter real or imagined enemies.

Walker has serious problems back home which have worsened with him away. WEDC, his “job creation agency” is awash in corruption, the budget has turned into a carnival side show, and Republicans, who dominate the State Legislature, are bickering like toddlers over who gets to toss more goodies into the State Budget.

As terrible as Scott Walker has been as Governor of Wisconsin, his absence has created a leadership vacuum that far too many Republicans are fighting to fill. And that chaos is being noticed.

In the Sunday editiorial, they’ve finally remembered Walkers’ campaign pledge last year that he “only wants to be Governor”.

When he was running for re-election last year, he told a group of Journal Sentinel opinion writers and reporters that he really wanted to be Wisconsin’s governor, and that he would act as such in his second term. He would actually govern. I don’t think he’s doing that; and that’s certainly the perception of many in the public, who think he’s running for president full-time. Maybe he’s working behind the scenes, but if he is, it’s so far back that no one knows he’s there.

Walker wants the Presidency so badly that he’s not even pretending to be Governor anymore. And when your media pals and supporters notice that, it isn’t good.Your media pals need you so come on back home, Governor. Fluffing you up is hard enough already considering how much damage you’ve done to the state. And the current evident corruption and mayhem make your media poodles have to work even harder.

Sue

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge To Wisconsin Voter ID Law

Zxhxwhx48q085aeo8irh
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

TPM LiveWire

The justices’ action means the state is free to impose the voter ID requirement in future elections, and is further evidence that the court put the law on hold last year only because the election was close at hand and absentee ballots already had been mailed with no notification of the need to present photo IDs.

The court did not comment on its order.

Wisconsin was one of four states in which a dispute over voting rules reached the Supreme Court last fall. The other states were North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. Of the four states, only Wisconsin’s new rules were blocked.

Wisconsin’s photo ID law has been a political flashpoint since Republican legislators passed it in 2011. The GOP argues the mandate is a common sense step toward reducing election fraud. Democrats maintain no widespread fraud exists and that the law is really an attempt to keep Democratic constituents who may lack ID, such as the poor, minorities and the elderly, from voting.

The law was in effect for the February 2012 primary but subsequent legal challenges put it on hold and it hasn’t been in place for any election since.

The ACLU and allied groups persuaded a federal judge in Milwaukee to declare the law unconstitutional last year. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago later ruled that the law did not violate the Constitution.

The Supreme Court refused to disturb that ruling on Monday.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

%d bloggers like this: