GAB rejects petition reviews from outside groups

MADISON — Two tea party groups are considering a lawsuit against the Wisconsin elections board over its decision not to accept any evidence they find of fraud in petitions seeking the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“What we’re providing is a way for citizens to be involved,” said Larry Gamble, a member of the Tea Party Group, The GrandSons of Liberty.  “13,000 Wisconsinites and people from around the country have joined in this effort.”

The Government Accountability Board on Tuesday agreed that the law only allowed for it to consider rejecting signatures based on evidence brought forward by its staff or the targeted office holders. Board director Kevin Kennedy says there is no process in place for accepting information from outside groups and individuals.

“It’s like a court,” Kennedy said.  “You don’t allow people to just walk in and say, I’ve got additional evidence. You want to have certain procedures in place for that. These are procedures that the legislature has approved.”

Two tea party groups have launched the web site “Verify the Recall.”   Their goal is to make formal challenges based on their findings.  “We’re looking to uphold the integrity of the process,” said Ross Brown, of We the People of the Republic.  “If we lose clean and honest elections here in the state of Wisconsin, we lose Wisconsin as we know it.”

“You have two adversaries,”  said Jeremy Levinson, the attorney for recall organizers.”The idea of allowing the ally of one party top come take a seat at the table is preposterous.”

Campaign rules prevent those third party groups from sharing info directly with the Walker Campaign, but nothing prevents them from publishing their findings on their own web site.

The four targeted state senators have until Thursday to challenge signatures. Walker’s challenges are due Feb. 27 and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch has until March 5.

The GAB has until March 19 to verify all of the petitions.

(AP, Cary Docter and Mike Lowe contributed to this report)

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