Gov. Walker wants two more weeks for signature review

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Gov. Scott Walker

MADISON (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker wants an additional two weeks to review signatures on recall petitions, saying he doesn’t have enough time to go over the estimated one million signatures submitted last month.

The request, filed Monday, was to be considered Friday by Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess.

Walker’s campaign said in the filing that the ordering of any election would not be substantively delayed by its request. “The time needed to search for duplicates, as well as to provide a factual basis for objections to more than 100,000 signatures, cannot be met within the existing time limits,” Walker’s court filing said.

Niess already has granted Walker 30 days to review the petitions. That is 20 days more than the law requires. If Walker is given another two weeks, his deadline for filing challenges would be pushed from Feb. 27 to March 12.

Recall organizers have five days after that to respond to the challenges and Walker’s campaign has another two days for rebuttal.

The Government Accountability Board has until March 19 to determine whether the necessary 540,208 signatures were collected to call an election.

The campaign said it had only reviewed about 25 percent of the signatures so far. It said of those, between 10 percent and 20 percent should not be counted.

Even if the elections board were to toss 20 percent of the signatures, recall organizers still would have roughly 800,000 signatures, far more than is needed for an election to be ordered.

Even so, Walker’s campaign said the governor has a “valid interest in filing objections and determining that a sufficient number of individually valid signatures are present.”

Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said the request for more time was an attempt to “delay the inevitable” so Walker could continue raising unlimited money for the recall. Until an election is ordered, state law exempts any subject of a recall from normal campaign fundraising limits.

Walker has reported more than $12 million raised since last year, including $500,000 from one Texas donor alone. “Walker is afraid of facing the voters of Wisconsin, so his delay is about getting more unlimited campaign money from outside of Wisconsin,” said Kathleen Falk, one of two announced Democratic challengers to Walker.

A spokeswoman for the other announced Democratic candidate, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.