Hours after polls closed in the closely contested 2011 state Supreme Court election, Republican consultants and lobbyists traded emails about launching a potential public campaign to allege “widespread” voter fraud, newly released emails show. Critics say the emails are another sign of political motives behind Republican claims that voter fraud is a serious problem in Wisconsin.
The emails became public Wednesday through a report by Guardian US, an arm of the British newspaper, which included leaked court documents from the secret John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign.
They were dated to the early morning hours of April 6, 2011. At that time, the outcome remained too close to call in the race between incumbent and GOP favorite then-Justice David Prosser and the candidate favored by Democrats, Judge Joanne Kloppenburg.
Steve Baas, a lobbyist for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and former Republican legislative staffer, floated an idea on the email thread: “Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? I obviously think we should.”
Scott Jensen — the former GOP Assembly Speaker turned lobbyist for American Federation for Children, a private school voucher advocacy group — quickly responded: “Yes. Anything fishy should be highlighted. Stories should be solicited by talk radio hosts.”