Welcome to Salem or Joe McCarthy Redux
Ssssshhhhh! Evwebody be veh-we, veh-we quiet. We’re huntin’ some wascawe witches. They signed a wecaw petition so we know exactwe where they wiv!
A mob of Elmer Fudds has gathered with pitchforks and torches, intent on hunting down, shaming, exposing, and otherwise intimidating as many people as possible that they can identify on any recall petition.
[Note to mob: signing a recall petition is not a partisan activity. The recall petition is merely a document the signing of which makes possible the recall of a public official by the citizens of this state through the exercise of a constitutional right. It’s not based on a political “party” and therefore is not party-san – get it? If you still don’t understand, Mrs. Higgins wants a word with you]
I saw this coming. As soon as the GAB announced it would post copies of the petitions online, I knew – because Walker supporters tend to be ignorant, violent show a bigoted lockstep mindset that would make Hitler envious (Seig heil!) – that it would be open season on anyone who had the temerity to exercise a constitutional right. [And no – before anybody starts, I am NOT comparing Walker to Hitler. Walker’s not that smart. I’m only talking about mindless followers.]
Walker supporters had already demonstrated their capacity for blind hatred, through foul language, bullying, and criminal behavior including assaulting recall volunteers and vandalism.
So I knew that they would love to have access to names and addresses.
But it didn’t have to be facilitated by the state.
So, when I learned the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) had posted the signed petitions on its website, I wrote the director of the GAB:
Walker supporters who oppose the recalls are doing everything possible to intimidate and harass those who support the recall (including assaults and death threats) as has been documented in numerous incidents around the state. You are making it easier for them to do so. You also will make people think twice about signing anything in the future.
As a public servant and in light of your responsibilities, you should be doing everything possible to protect the public and the process, not harm them. Your “practice” harms both, which is especially offensive because you are doing it voluntarily, on your own initiative.
The law allows the public to ask to examine, inspect, and copy public records upon request. The law does NOT require the records to be available 24/7 or without a request.
I ask you to respect all of us and comply with all portions of the open record law – including requiring a request be made to examine the record – and applying the balancing test before releasing the record. And I ask you to remove the online versions.
I wrote again:
On Facebook, someone has started a page called: “I Will Be Getting Your Info off the Recall Petition,” complete with a picture of a burning home. https://www.facebook.com/groups/WIwillbeSaved/?notif_t=group_activity#!/pages/I-Will-Be-Getting-Your-Info-Off-the-Recall-Petition/176773262429358
The first comment? “Crazy right wingers know where you live. Imagine the possibilities!”
People were already getting death threats and being verbally and physically assaulted – including rocks thrown through windows.
Why in the world do you want to expose people to more harm? You may not care about that – but I hope you at least care about the potential liability of your agency.”
He still refused.
I wrote again:
And here’s another comment posted by “I Will Be Getting Your Info Off the Recall Petition” on his facebook page:
You know who you are. WE know who you are. This is gonna get FUN!!
I again ask you to change your practice and not put the petitions online.
He still refused. That was in January.
Enter “Verify the Recall,” an effort by “Skew the Vote,” “We the Wingnuts of the Republic,” and “Wisconsin Grandsons of the KKK.” (They call themselves True The Vote, We the People of the Republic, and Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty, but learn anything about them and you’ll agree with me.)
In a group effort by thousands of (crazy, insane, obsessed, deluded) people around the country who were concerned about the fraud committed by thousands of union thug Wisconsinites (because no way would they ever get enough real signatures), they took the information from the GAB website and made it their own. Only better. Their online version was searchable.
And thus the hunt began.
Individuals, public officials, public employees, judges, employees of newspapers and television: anyone is a possible victim. Why? Because under the guise of “transparency” the witch hunters are launching a rabid attack against those who dared disagree with them.
Of course “Verify the Recall” says this is about “transparency” not intimidation.
Right. And Walker says he likes teachers.
But I say, look for yourself. Take a gander at the VTR facebook page. Some of the “transparent” posts are copied below.
So you be the judge. And jury. And executioner. Just like the good folks at VTR. All you need is its database – and your own firewood.
From the Verify the Recall facebook page:
“Have you investigated your own ‘corner of the world’ at iVerifyTheRecall.com yet?”
“Recall signatures include those of local elected officials, school leaders…”
“The University of Wisconsin System’s chief spokesman said he regrets signing a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker”
“MMSD’s New Superintendent Daniel Nerad’s Signature Highlights the Challenges Faced by VTR Data Entry Volunteers”
“29 Wisconsin Judges Signed Gov. Walker Recall Petitions. Verify The Recall Volunteers: your data entry efforts continue to pay dividends!”
“Landmark Legal Foundation is requesting an investigation of 29 Wisconsin circuit court judges who signed a recall petition”
“Verify The Recall Volunteers: Your efforts have allowed for stories like this to break into the news!!! Click on the recall petition images — they are ALL from iVerifyTheRecall.com! YOU HAVE MADE A REAL IMPACT IN WISCONSIN! BREAKING: Wisconsin Judicial Commission Stacked with Democrats, Prosser Investigation Led by Democrat”
“This is what vetting our representatives looks like. Check to see if their views are similar to your own, and if not, defeat them”
“Verify The Recall provides media transparency as reported by Breitbart’s Big Journalism… More Wisconsin Journalists in Trouble for Signing Walker Recall http://www.breitbart.com Media Trackers reports that a news anchor and a colleague at WISC-TV, the Madison, WI affiliate of CBS, have both signed recall petitions against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and that both are under investigation.”
“Verify The Recall More transparency in the media thanks to Verify The Recall! EXCLUSIVE: Madison TV News Anchor Appears to Sign Recall | Media Trackers mediatrackers.org”
“Verify The Recall: Bringing transparency to election races at all levels! Are Partisan Politics Finding a Seat On The School Board? Although it’s a nonpartisan elected position, the politics is playing an increased role on the Menomonee Falls School Board and the upcoming election. And it’s not just happening in Menomonee Falls.”
”Verify The Recall: Bringing transparency to the media!Genia Lovett column: Post-Crescent journalists shouldn’t have signed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker”
“Verify The Recall introduces transparency in the UW System … On Campus: The University of Wisconsin System’s chief spokesman said he regrets signing a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker.”
“Verify The Recall More transparency out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin … Recall signatures include those of local elected officials, school leaders. More than a dozen local public officials, including a majority of the Eau Claire City Council and school board, were among those who signed recall petitions aimed at Gov. Scott Walker and other state Republican lawmakers.”
“6 State Journal staffers signed recall petitions; all but 1 not involved in news Wisconsin State Journal editors learned this week that six staff members signed petitions calling for the recall of Gov. Scott Walker.”
“In addition to other discoveries VTR has made, I found one of our local school board candidates listed, but not the other three. Their candidacies do not designate a political party, so this helped make up my mind who to vote for…”
“I would also suggest that you look up your school board members who have run as non-partisans. If they publicly show their partisansip and want to recall our Governor and his Act 10 which gives the school boards tools to help with the budgeting, they will probably not be good representatives of the taxpayers when negotiating new teacher contracts.”
“I would definitely suggest also that you look up your aldermen, school board members etc to see if they signed. Know the sussex hamilton has a couple of instances where certain officials changed the spelling of their names and one who signed twice, 1 correctly and 1 wrong..interesting also the guy ran as a republican for another office..and the other also signed recall for Darling not spelling her name correctly..all I can say is WOW , this is how these public officials fool people into thinking they are conservative and they are not…so THANK YOU VTR and all who worked on this transparency!”
“Remember you can look up those running for office to see if they signed. Hannah C. Dugan running for judge branch 23 signed”
“Whoever came up with the idea to put the Scott Walker recall petitions at IVerifytheRecall.com might be in line for some kind of journalism award.”