Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Kennedy’

Bye Bye Senate Majority

Madison, WI. Showing signs of sheer desperation, three GOP senators up for recall elections on July 12 have now resorted to asking the courts to stop the election citing dubious alleged “irregularities” in the filing of recall petitions. Never mind the wholesale recall petition fraud perpetrated by the Wisconsin Republican Party; substantiated with scores of affidavits and reports of dead people signing their names, felons stealing items while circulating papers, and the involvement of a shady out of state group that helped organize the republican efforts against democrats.

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

State Sens. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse; Luther Olsen, R-Ripon; and Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, all want judges to block the state Government Accountability Board from calling elections based on the recall petitions filed in April by groups seeking to recall the GOP senators.

Clearly, they know they are in trouble.  Two of these senators, adherents of the GOP “family values” mantra,  are essentially the crippled sheep in the Republican herd. Easy pickings if you will.  The third is simply guilty of supporting union busting. Let’s take a look.

Hopper and his mistress, Valerie Cass

Sen. Randy Hopper, R- Fon du Lac -Fortunate Son shacks up with young mistress, lives in Madison. 

Sen. Randy Hopper began his political career by winning his race in a 163 vote “landslide.” A member of the northern Wisconsin gentry, Hopper is the owner of Mountain Dog Media, a radio station and broadcasting company that owns Fon du Lac’s two major radio stations, KFIZ (1450) and WFON (107.1)  In addition, Mountain Dog owns WCLB (950) in Sheboygan and Chilton‘s WMBE (1530). It is more than likely that Mr. Hopper was the recipient of generous seed capital from his wealthy father, William Hopper, whose grandfather had founded Hopper Papers,  a company eventually sold to Koch Brothers-owned paper giant Georgia Pacific.  After selling the company and staying on a few years, Randy’s dad bought a majority stake in a small bank in Taylorville, IL and grew his interests to $150 million. The bank then merged with another banking firm in Springfield, Ill. When that combined company grew to $2 billion in assets, it merged once again with another bank, and that’s when Hopper sold out. He also owns/owned a 50% stake in a string of Illinois car dealerships.  My point is that young Randy is no self-made man.  He was born of privilege and grew up in Taylorville, IL while summering on a lake estate in Arbor Vitae, WI- the same lake that is home to Standard Oil’s lavish former retreat, Red Crown Lodge.  Sen. Hopper has little in common with the average Wisconsinite he pretends to represent.

In March of this year, recall volunteers accidentally knocked on his door and encountered Hopper’s estranged wife who was more than happy to announce that “Randy doesn’t live here anymore.  He’s living in Madison with his 26 year old mistress Valerie Cass”. She then wrote a letter to Milwaukee radio station WTMJ confirming her statement. Imagine the shock! According to Mrs. Hopper,  Randy began having an affair with the then 25 year old Cass who at the time was employed as an aide to  Senator Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield). After Senator Kanavas decided against another run,  Ms. Cass became employed by the aptly named political consulting firm “Persuasion Partners, Inc.”  Incidentally, Persuasion Partners counts as one of its clients the Koch brothers-funded front Americans For Prosperity. Yet another Koch connection to a Wisconsin legislator. To make matters worse, it appears that Sen. Hopper may have used his political connections to secure a sweetheart deal of a job for his mistress in the Walker Administration, circumventing the civil service process.  Regardless of your political persuasion, is this the type of man that would be inclined to represent you? Or would he be more comfortable championing the cause of corporations?

Sen. Dan Kapanke

Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse – Ethically Challenged and Paid no Taxes. 

In August of 2010, Wisconsin State Senator Dan Kapanke admitted to “unintentionally” violating the state ethics code by using his lobbyist funded charity as a personal slush fund to pay for improvements to the LaCrosse Logger’s Baseball Park. He and his wife own the LaCrosse Loggers, a summer collegiate baseball team.. The payments from the LaCrosse Logger’s Foundation to the City of LaCrosse totaled about $32,000 against a  $225,000 loan.

In 2009, Government Accountability Board representative Jonathan Becker said  Sen. Kapanke should not have used campaign funds for two “Economic Forums”. This was after the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit asserting that his staff improperly coordinated the forums. The board declined to take action against Kapanke, but fined his aid who worked at the second campaign-sponsored event.  Kapanke took responsibility for the actions of his aid and agreed that he shouldn’t have used campaign funds for those activities. The party twice requested records about the event and each time was told they did not exist.  During testimony as part of the Democratic party suit, a top Kapanke aide admitted that she routinely used personal email for state work. The state’s Technology Services Bureau recovered information from a backup that confirmed that Kapanke had been sending work related emails to a yahoo email address. Rose Smyrski, Kapanke’s chief of staff and capitol employee since 2000,  incredulously stated that she never received open records training and that she didn’t check her personal email in response to the Democratic Party open records request.

Once again, Kapanke maintained that this was an “honest mistake”.  He seems to make lots of “honest mistakes” involving campaign-related financial issues and obscuring information. In Sept, 2009 the taxpayers of Wisconsin paid $38,000 to settle his legal fees as a result of the suit. It should be noted that taxes to average Wisconsin citizens increased under his watch while he himself paid nothing in 2008. Full information about Kapanke ethics issues and the source article is here.

Sen. Luther Olsen, R- Ripon

Sen. Luther Olsen, R- Ripon. 

Sen. Luther Olsen has long been considered one of the more moderate republicans in the legislature. In the early stages of the Wisconsin Uprising, Sen Olsen was one of the very few republicans who expressed reservations about removing the collective bargaining rights of unions. “The concept is pretty radical,” he said.  “It affects a lot of good working people.” Olsen said he could support the changes on pensions and health care but had reservations about taking away other bargaining rights.  That spark of independence died when he voted lock-step with the Walker machine ultimately setting himself up for recall.

GOP Recall Organizers Call for Chief Election Referee to Resign

Finally, in another blatant act of desperation, the Wisconsin Republican Party recall organizers are calling for Kevin Kennedy, the Executive Director of the Government Accountability Board, to resign. The GAB is tasked with overseeing elections in Wisconsin and has been given the monumental task of certifying 9 simultaneous recall elections. This is unprecedented. Wisconsin republicans are crying foul because all recall elections against the GOP have been certified, while serious questions remain about the validity of the signatures collected by out of state firms against the democrats. In at least several cases it appears that signatures were forged from information contained within phone books. Most notably, the signature of the long deceased father of Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan appeared on one set of papers turned in by republican operatives.

The recall elections were scheduled for July 12th.

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Voter ID To Pass in Assembly Today

UPDATE: Wisconsin Voter Suppression bill passes assembly and moves on to the Senate where it will most likely pass easily.  Wisconsinites must now show a valid photo ID with current address information in order to vote.  Bad day for participatory democracy.

In a matter of hours, the Wisconsin State Assembly will pass one of the most restrictive voter ID bills in the United States.   This bill, AB-7, would  effectively disenfranchise many low-income, elderly and disabled people even though widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin is essentially a myth.  In 2008, the City of Milwaukee police department conducted a sweeping and comprehensive investigation of the 2004-5 election cycle.  The 67 page report detailed mistakes, errors, and in some cases sloppy procedures by poll workers, but failed to discover significant incidences of voter fraud.  At the time, Foaming-at-the-mouth Milwaukee Conservative Talk Show Host Charlie Sykes called the report a “bombshell”. He propagated the myth on the air and whipped up a frenzy of concern among the far right. most of it proven to be unfounded. What the oft cited report did find was a situation where more votes were cast than voters recorded.  This was clearly detailed in the report to be a clerical and procedural error, not voter fraud. The report goes on to state that that there is nearly no proof of fraud, and cites “the laxity of poll workers” and procedural errors. Investigations of specific cases including double voting, found that most could easily be explained; again clerical errors such as twins with same date of birth and fathers and sons where workers confused Junior and Senior.

What this bill will do is make it nearly impossible for students, who generally lean liberal, to vote. The bill would require voters to provide a state ID issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles that includes a current address. Student ID’s, initially excluded, are now ok. But the Student ID’s must include the same information contained on DMV issued identification cards. Cash-strapped universities will most likely not spend scarce financial resources on such things. Kevin Kennedy, of the non-partisan Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections,  stated: “In order to cultivate engaged, active citizens we need to facilitate voting among our youth rather than imposing artificial barriers to participation.”

It will also complicate the absentee ballot procedure, make it harder for the homebound elderly and disabled to participate in democracy, and potentially cause low income residents to stay away from the polls because perhaps they need to choose between paying their utility bill, or updating their drivers license.

Rep. Jon Richards (D)- 19th Assembly district said moments ago in the now underway hearing “that of the 17 cases of voter fraud in ’08; half were felons trying to vote.” Hardly evidence of wide-spread voter fraud, and somewhat ironically, won’t be prevented by this current GOP authored bill. If you are a felon, and you have a drivers license, you could still potentially vote.

Unfortunately, this bill will pass because the votes necessary to implement it are there.  Thousands of Wisconsin residents will be disenfranchised and most likely stay away from the polls. This is another example of the right wing war on the working class, the elderly and the poor designed specifically to create a permanent Republican majority.  They are pushing this agenda in an accelerated fashion in order to pass a host of measures before the impending mass recall elections;  including concealed carry, voter ID, splitting the UW- System, Corporate Tax Breaks and the Privatization of Entitlement programs.   Let’s not forget that they’ve already attempted to destroy the public unions.

It’s  a Brand New Day in America’s Dairy Land.  WisconsinÜber Alles.