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The Dishonesty Strategy

Jun. 14, 2011
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As the biggest political recall in Wisconsin history takes shape, there is one question about the integrity of our political process every citizen in the state should be asking, but especially those who have supported the Republican Party.

That question is: Why has the Republican Party, once a legitimate political party, decided to openly embrace dishonesty as a strategy to win elections?

Surely, Republicans who profess to be honest in their personal lives are disturbed that their political party has chosen to abandon honesty to hold onto power.

Republicans shouldn't dismiss this question as some kind of partisan attack. They should think about it honestly for at least a moment.

Throughout history, dishonest political operatives have worked behind the scenes in every political party that has ever existed. But there is something new and extremely disturbing about the top leadership of a major political party publicly advocating the use of dishonesty as an acceptable strategy.

The angry political upheaval in Wisconsin since January is a direct result of Republican dishonesty on a whole new level.

In a time of economic crisis, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in both houses of the Legislature won election making glittering promises about “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

They definitely did not campaign on destroying half a century of collective bargaining rights and gutting the funding of education and local government throughout the state.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which endorsed Walker's election, has since editorialized that if Walker had mentioned such ideas during his campaign, he would not have been elected.

But that is exactly the radical agenda Walker unleashed upon the state the instant he took office. In private, Walker referred to this as dropping the bomb.

Republican legislators illegally tried to destroy bargaining rights by violating the state's open meetings law after hours when the public was locked out of the Capitol and then attempted to put such a law into effect in violation of a court order.

When public officials use their positions dishonestly to enact a private agenda never mentioned to voters, the law allows voters to recall them by a majority vote.

Democrats had little difficulty gathering tens of thousands of signatures needed to recall six Republican state senators who voted for Walker's destructive attacks on collective bargaining, education and local government.

Republicans, it appears, had a lot more difficulty getting signatures in a counter-effort to try to recall three Democratic state senators.

Rather than a grassroots Wisconsin effort, the campaign against Democrats was organized by a right-wing organization based in Utah led by a man who spent 10 years in prison for grand theft and forgery.

Democrats submitted hundreds of affidavits from voters describing fraudulent practices Republicans used to gain signatures. These included lying by claiming the petitions were to recall Walker and other Republicans or to extend American-Indian voting rights and offering to buy shots of whiskey in exchange for signatures.

Despite the fraud, state Republican leaders attacked the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board (GAB) for taking more time to examine the signatures Republicans submitted against Democrats than the legitimate signatures Democrats gathered against Republicans.

The browbeating of the GAB worked. Not wanting to appear partisan by only ordering recalls of six Republicans, the GAB chose to permit recall elections against three Democrats despite the documented fraud by Republicans.

That set up recall elections this summer against six Republican state senators and three Democrats. Democrats only have to retain their three incumbents (Utah doesn't get to vote) and recall three Republicans to control the state Senate and stop Walker's unchecked right-wing reign.

Embracing Shady Tactics

Seeing the end of their ruthless power in sight, Republicans pulled out their most brazenly dishonest tactic yet. They publicly announced they would run “fake Democrats” who are really Republican activists in Democratic primaries against the legitimate Democrats challenging the six Republican state senators.

This latest dishonesty accomplishes two illegitimate goals. It allows Republicans to hold onto total control of the Legislature for an additional month to continue passing extreme legislation. Recall elections are pushed back to August with a phony primary in July.

Even more dishonest, since there won't be any Republican primaries in those districts—the incumbent Republican state senator is their candidate—Republicans can vote in those Democratic primaries and try to nominate their “fake Democrats” instead of real ones.

Clever, huh? Totally dishonest, but oh so clever. Also, quite possibly illegal.

Section 12.05 of Wisconsin election statutes: "False representations affecting elections. No person may knowingly make or publish, or cause to be made or published, a false representation pertaining to a candidate or referendum which is intended or tends to affect voting at an election."

A Republican running as a “fake Democrat” in a Democratic primary is a blatantly false representation.

When are Republicans, many of whom claim to have strong family values, going to demand that their party abandon its strategy of dishonesty?


Would white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan pose the same threat they do now if a mainstream Republican were president instead of Donald Trump?

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