Someone needs to slap Kevin Kennedy and the remainder of the Government Accountability Board upside the head for another in a long series of bad decisions.
For weeks, or at least since a court told the GAB that they had to create a database of the alleged million recall signatures against Gov. Scott Walker, Kennedy has said the non-partisan (snort, snicker) organization would post the signatures online for the public to review.
As late as Jan. 30 at high Noon, Kennedy said that was the plan. But as we have continually seen in the new world of Wisconsin recall politics, what is said is not always what is.
By early evening, Kennedy and his cohorts reversed course and said the database would not go live out of concern for the privacy rights of domestic violence victims.
Let me say just one thing to Kennedy and the GAB – the recall petitions are public records. Just like the recall petitions filed last summer against Democrat and Republican state senators. Just like the thousands of nomination petitions that are filed every year for state, county and local offices.
The argument being made by the ACLU and others in defense of domestic violence victims sounds good at first glance. No one, not even a “cold-hearted, capitalist conservative” like me, wants a perpetrator to revictimize someone based on finding their name and address on a recall database. However, lets put some onus on the victims of domestic violence for this one.
No one, at least I hope, no one put a gun to the head of anyone to sign a recall petition to oust Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch or the four senators from office. There may have been cigarettes, barbecue or promises of future rides to the polls by Mike Tate and his crew, but I think even Tate would know not to pull a gun on a domestic violence victim.
What I’m saying here is clear – NO ONE MADE A SINGLE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIM SIGN A PETITION.
I’ve known women who have been stalked and victimized. They are leery of using their credit cards for fear of leaving a trail that can be accessed by their abuser. They don’t sign mailing lists in stores, they know how to keep their identities and locations secret.
So why would a woman or man who has been violated sign one of the most public documents in all of democracy? Maybe they should have thought of the consequences, the future implications of their actions before being swept up in the frenzy of ousting the governor.
And ladies and gentleman who are afraid your cover will be blown I’m gonna let you in on a secret. When you vote and tell that nice little lady where you live at the polls, that’s public too. Future candidates can walk into any community clerks office and request the full voter polls for campaign purposed. I did it when I ran for public office, to use for mass mailing purposes. And there is nothing to stop anyone else from doing the same thing.
And candidacy papers are public too. So if you signed your name to help Joe Blow get a seat on the town board, I’ve seen that too.
Public records need to be public. Back in the day, public access meant going to the courthouse or city hall and asking the clerk for all the papers. But in the 21st century, public records are regularly and systematically computerized. And in the state of Wisconsin, once a public entity such as the GAB makes a database, document or record, its fair game for anyone and everyone to see. Criminal and civil court records are accessible online; minutes and agendas are online; everything is online.
Remember that before you sign a political petition. Don’t exercise your right to democracy then use your victimhood to impede mine.