Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Some West Bend Referendum Fallout.

Hi folks,

Just to catch us up. The telephone blitz from the Americans for Prosperity (sic) lobbyists turned out not to be illegal after all... which is good. Here's some of the Journal article

Group's calls to West Bend are legal

Official says message about schools came close to violating law

Posted: Nov. 5, 2007

West Bend - A national group advocating lower government spending did not violate state election laws when it sponsored computer-generated telephone messages for West Bend School District residents about a proposed $119.3 million school building referendum, Washington County District Attorney Todd Martens said Monday.

The message from Americans for Prosperity did not expressly promote or oppose a particular vote on the referendum in today's special election, so the group was not required to register to campaign on the issue, Martens said.

The district attorney responded to a request from It's Time, a West Bend group supporting passage of the referendum, to investigate whether the message violated state law. The calls were placed Friday.

"I believe the language in the call comes dangerously close to express advocacy," Martens said in a letter to It's Time. Martens, in the letter, urged Americans for Prosperity and its state director, Mark Block, "to scrupulously adhere to the requirements of Wisconsin elections and campaign financing law."

"The communication in question obviously opposes the referendum question," Martens said.

"Although it appears that some of the information in the call is misleading and a distortion of the true financial impact of the referendum on taxpayers, the veracity of the political speech is not the issue in determining whether Americans for Prosperity is required to register as a political committee," according to Martens' letter.

This was quite a learning experience. Apparently, distorting facts in order to sway voters is not legally the same thing as advocating the position you're attempting to sway voters to vote for.

I love this country.



Anonymous said...

If you need a laugh about this, you gotta jump over to Brew City Brawler (link is on your page) & Boots & Kittens ( - check it out & link it if you like it)

Anonymous said...

So, if you are opposed to public education and the paying for it through tax dollars then it is OK for your veracity to be questionable but, if you are a school board member or superintendent of schools then you must be above reproach at all times. If you make so much as one misstep then you are demeaned, degraded and threatened with lawsuits. Isn't this the same kind of double standard that conservatives are complaining about in regards to the media?

The fact that Mark Block is involved should tell people that the AFP is low in veracity regardless of the fact that they make phone calls or not. Also, the AFP knew they were close to crossing the line or they would not have changed their message and brought in Wendy Wunderlich to give a new message.

This should have been a local matter decided by local people not by groups from the outside. Check their website they are championing their efforts in West Bend as well as other places around the country. Don't for one second believe that this was a grassroots effort.

Anonymous said...

According to the Daily News, "2-Time Voter In School Referendum Won't Face Charges" - just a little update to something mentioned at B&S - sounds like a poll worker inadvertently gave two ballots to a voter, the voter filled it out (maybe they thought the government wants everything in duplicate or triplicate, lol) & stuck it in the machine. The poll workers were able to determine which was the duplicate ballot and removed it from the tally.