The subpoenas are flying fast and furious in Wisconsin. This time, the story is over the "voter rewards" programs mounted during the recalls.
Details of the secret investigation are sketchy, but it is clear the Milwaukee County district attorney's office is investigating charges that Wisconsin Right to Life offered rewards for volunteers who signed up sympathetic voters in the recall races. Several people familiar with the investigation said subpoenas were being distributed "like candy."
Prosecutors had earlier acknowledged that they also were looking into complaints about get-out-the-vote block parties sponsored by a liberal group, Wisconsin Jobs Now.
There's a little false equivalence in this article, at least, that's how it appears to me. Yes, there are two investigations, but let's compare and contrast the specific voter rewards programs, which in some cases were a lot like the benefits you get for signing up for a new Visa card at the low, low interest rate of 23 percent per year.
Here's the Wisconsin Right to Life Voter Rewards program:
During the recall races, the group had sent an email that described the elections as putting "a pro-family, pro-life state Senate at stake."
It then offered "rewards for volunteers who make an impact over the weekend by educating and encouraging family and friends to vote by absentee ballot."
Those who signed up 15 "pro-life/pro-family voters" by July 5 would get a $25 gift or gas card as a reward. The person signing up the most people in each Senate district would win a $75 gift or gas card.
Awesome. Nothing says vote integrity like a $25 gift card. You might also recall this group as the one who sent out the phony absentee ballot notices to registered Democrats so they'd mail in their ballots a day late.
Here's the Wisconsin Jobs Now Voter Rewards program:
Landgraf also acknowledged in August that he was looking into a complaint by the state Republican Party and Media Trackers, a conservative advocacy group, over what has been dubbed the BBQ-for-votes scandal.
Wisconsin Jobs Now, a coalition of community and labor groups led by the Service Employees International Union, held at least five parties on Milwaukee's northwest side in which it offered voters free food (including chicken and ribs from Speed Queen), drawings for prizes and free shuttles to Milwaukee City Hall so they could cast absentee ballots in the Darling-Pasch contest.
Last month, a spokeswoman for Jobs Now defended the parties, describing them as "a celebration of voting" aimed at making it easier to vote for low-income and minority groups who might face more challenges under the state's soon-to-begin photo identification law.
Hmmm. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see a barbeque and bus in the same light as I do a cash card payoff.
Not to worry, though. The Wisconsin Republican Party has hired James Bopp to press Wisconsin Jobs Now on their rewards program while defending their own. James Bopp was one of the architects of the Citizens United legal case.
Turning the snark off for a moment, there is a real problem here; indeed, across the nation. Our voting system is being corrupted by Voter ID laws and hackable voting machines. As silly as I think it is to offer voting rewards programs, I also think we have a far deeper and more serious problem. Sending mailers with bogus dates on them is a far more egregious problem than having a barbeque or even handing out payola for voter quotas.
I'm not sure how this is all going to turn out, but I hope people start realizing how precious their votes are, and how easily they can be corrupted.