By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — In what turned out to be a November surprise, a Waukesha County man has launched a recall campaign against Gov. Scott Walker nearly two weeks ahead of a massive organized recall drive.
But the petition, filed by David Brandt, of Muskego, has earned the ire and suspicions of some Democrats, who insist Brandt is no friend of the movement.
Not much was known about Brandt on Friday. He did not return phone calls from Wisconsin Reporter, or several other media outlets.
He does state in his campaign registration statement, filed Friday with the state Government Accountability Board, or GAB, that he is the treasurer of Close Friends to Recall Walker, and resides at 17176 W. College Ave. in Muskego.
Brandt said he filed the recall paperwork “to fulfill my friend’s last request.”
The committee seeks an exemption from filing campaign finance forms, because it does not intend to raise campaign contributions, according to the petition and GAB spokesman Reid Magney.
Magney said the filing of the petition “opens the window for Gov. Walker to begin unlimited fundraising,” provided under Wisconsin’s recall campaign law.
A Democratic Party of Wisconsin, or DPW, official cried foul Friday following word of Brandt’s filing.
“Essentially Gov.Walker just triggered his own recall. All aboutt (sic) sleazy $$$,” Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski wrote on his Twitter account.
“GovWalker: recalling himself to raise more dirty money,” another Zielinski tweet states.
Zielinski has had a hostile and threatening relationship with Wisconsin Reporter in the past, so Wisconsin Reporter attempted contacting Zielinski’s boss, DPW Chairman Mike Tate. He did not return a call seeking comment.
Zielinski in the Cap Times online newspaper attacked Brandt’s filing as the “Republican ploy we have been predicting …”
“The only reason this was filed was to open the dirty rain shower of unlimited corporate cash,” he told the website.
Brandt contributed $50 to Walker’s campaign Sept. 21, 2010, according to the Wisconsin Campaign Finance Information System website. On Jan. 4, Brandt contributed $38.25 to the state Republican Party, according to state campaign finance filings, as reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday.
Nicole Larson, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, called Zielinski’s statements “completely false.”
Brad Courtney, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, in a statement said the attempt to recall the governor is an “abuse of the recall process, put forward by selfishly motivated Democrats who are more interested in regaining power than the best interests of Wisconsin families.”
“As the Democrats wage war on the Governor’s fiscally responsible reforms, he will continue to improve our state for the hard working families who put him in office,” Courtney said, adding that Walker will not be “distracted by the political power plays forced upon the state by fringe, egocentric Democrats.”
Walker’s reforms, particularly Act 10, which curbs collective bargaining for most public employees, are what drove thousands of his union and Democratic opponents to the Capitol late last winter, and much of what flared an unprecedented Senate recall campaign during the summer.
Brandt’s recall petition was filed 11 days before the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and United Wisconsin, a liberal political action committee, planned to launch a recall petition drive against Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
The well-organized and presumably well-funded campaign, backed in large part by organized labor, declared last month that the petition drive would begin Nov. 15. The campaign will have 60 days to collect more than 540,000 signatures on the Walker recall, and the same on the Kleefisch petition, according to an opinion issued this week by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Brandt, too, under the recall law, would have to collect the 540,000-plus signatures by Jan. 3 to trigger a recall.
Magney said the 60-day clock starts fresh for the Democratic Party and PAC recall campaign.
Barry Burden, political science professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it appears Brandt’s filing follows the letter of the law, although his intentions are unclear. He noted that Brandt does not intend to raise or distribute more than $1,000 in his campaign.
“That might suggest that this is not a serious effort, but maybe it was done in memory of a friend or done to draw attention to the recall effort,” Burden said.
While the surprise jump-start to the expected recall season gives Walker more time to raise money, Burden said he doesn’t see a huge advantage for the sitting governor.
“I would guess he’ll raise all the money he needs, whether it’s 60 days or 70 days,” he said.