No One Made a Victim Sign a Petition

Was this a victim knowingly signing a recall petition?

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.


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.


7 thoughts on “No One Made a Victim Sign a Petition

  1. yes but if you request a paper copy you have to pay .25 cents per copy it would cost you 52000 dollars for that but i agree with this blogger it is public record let us see it all

  2. Exactly, spazzyferret. The petition PDF’s were provided to Walker last week, and they are available at his dozen offices around the state and at the GAB office, so the GAB met the requirements of the law last week.

    The tantrums in the last day about not posting petitions online — which is not required by the law, at all — and not doing so now, NOW, NOW! have been something to see. So many ignorant statements made by bloggers and commenters who didn’t look up the law before typing has been something to see, but it has been useful in finding out which blogs to trust.

  3. I never heard anything about domestic violence, Patti, but I do know that some folks were concerned about their employers finding out they’d signed the petitions [rich industrialists are apparently fans of Scooter].
    Everyone knew the petitions were public documents, but posting them online does seem to be excessive…

  4. P.S. The word is that the online posting was at the express order of our beloved attorney general, but I can’t believe he’d make a specifically political decision like that. Can you?

  5. “Noone made a victim sign a petition” – your logic is ridiculously flawed. “so why would a woman or man who has been violated sign … ” Because someone may have legitimate concerns about having what is alreay public record being posted on-line, they should give up their most fundamental right – the right to participate in their democracy?

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