Union Group: Tea Partiers and Wis. GOP Broke the Law with Phone-Bank Operation

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We Are Wisconsin, an influential coalition of labor unions backing the six Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s recall elections, says the California-based Tea Party Express (TPE) group and the Republican Party of Wisconsin broke state law by coordinating on a phone banking operation to boost Republican state senators facing recall votes.

In a complaint filed with Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board Tuesday morning, We Are Wisconsin alleges the two groups violated Wisconsin campaign law that prohibits coordination between independent expenditure groups and candidates or groups working on behalf of candidates. The complaint points to an August 8th email from the Tea Party Express to its supporters urging supporters to volunteer in its “Phone From Home program with the Wisconsin Republican Party” to make calls in support of GOP candidates. The link in the email leads to an online volunteering site that lists Tom Dickens, the WI GOP’s political director, as the contact person. The Phone From Home page also presents volunteers with a call script praising GOP Sen. Randy Hopper’s record creating jobs and “working to fix the state budget shortfall without raising taxes.”

We Are Wisconsin’s complaint depicts all this as a joint effort between TPE and the WI GOP. “Scott Walker and his national right-wing backers have proven time and again that no tactic—however despicable or illegal—is off limits in their quest to maintain absolute power and push their corporate-backed attacks on Wisconsin’s working families,” says Kelly Steele, a spokesman for We Are Wisconsin. A spokeswoman for the WI GOP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The complaint also alleges that the Tea Party Express violated a different part of Wisconsin law by engaging in electioneering without registering with the Government Accountability Board, which oversees campaign finance in Wisconsin.

This is hardly the first time a left- or right-leaning group accused the other side of breaking election law. On August 1st, the WI GOP filed its own complaint with the GAB alleging illegal coordination between Rep. Sandy Pasch (D), a Democratic challenger in Tuesday’s recalls, and Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a progressive advocacy group. Pasch said she had “cut off contact” with Citizen Action, and previously had only worked with the non-profit side of the group. A few days later, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin alleged that Pasch’s challenger, GOP Sen. Alberta Darling, had committed “multiple felonies” by coordinating with right-wing outside groups and refusing to hand over communications with those groups. A WI GOP spokesman said the complaint was purely political and “full of frivolous claims with no merit.”

Read We Are Wisconsin’s full complaint:

We Are Wisconsin 9 Aug 2011 GAB Complaint