Skip to comments.WIís GAB sides with transparency in petition privacy debate
Posted on 02/01/2012 4:25:35 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
MADISON The states elections watchdog Tuesday announced it would release all 153,335 pages of recall petitions online, 24 hours after pausing to consider the impact of posting personal information about domestic violence victims.
The decision comes after victims advocates and the states attorney general weighed in on the question.
Following an analysis, the Government Accountability Board , or GAB, determined the petitions will be released, in accordance with Wisconsin law, as well as a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Doe v. Reed , which involved the release of referendum petition in Washington state.
Unlike an electors vote, which is private and confidential, the signing of a recall petition is a public process, GAB director and legal counselKevin Kennedy wrote in a statement.
Kennedy said the agency conducted a balancing test as required under state public records law, weighing the merits of transparency versus the impact on private interests.
(W)e have concluded that the balancing test of the Public Records Law  favors disclosure of the entire recall petition without redaction of information on a recall petition, even when individual signers have expressed a concern arising from prior abuse or violence committed against them by a person who is now subject to a restraining order, Kennedy wrote.
The petitions were expected to be placed online Tuesday evening.
Grave safety concerns
Late Monday afternoon, GAB spokesman Reid Magney announced the board was delaying posting the names on its website after hearing concerns from stalking and domestic abuse victims and others who did not want their names released.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin  last month asked that the names of domestic abuse victims be kept confidential.
On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence  sent a letter to Kennedy asking that the board consider the grave safety concerns of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking when determining the public display of recall signatures.
We understand that several victims have contacted the Government Accountability Board asking that you restrict access to their home addresses because of particularized risks to their safety, the Madison-based coalition wrote.
The group strongly urged the GAB to redact the addresses of such victims, who contact GAB with specific concerns, from publicly available versions of petitions targeting Gov. Scott Walker  and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch for recall.
But what of the tens of thousands of signatures from last summers state Senate recall campaigns, and the tens of thousands more from the four state Senate recall efforts this year, online?
Tony Gibart, policy coordinator for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said it is a matter of scale.
The recall campaigns against Walker and Kleefisch have generated in the neighborhood of 1.9 million signatures combined.
Youre talking about something 10 times more than (the Senate races), he said, noting the attention and scrutiny on the governors recall initiative ratchets up the privacy concern.
Gibart and other victims advocates called for a balanced resolution to the privacy versus transparency question, that only a limited number of addresses would be redacted.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen  held a Capitol news conference, urging transparency and openness in the process.
I believe the public should have access to the recall petitions, he said in a statement released before the conference, adding that the stateDepartment of Justice is prepared to work with GAB to resolve disclosure concerns so that as much information as possible can be made available as soon as possible.
GAB black eye?
One political observer said GAB now finds itself in a no-win situation.
The bottom line, I think, is that they look inept, said John McAdams , associate professor of political science at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He specializes in public opinion, electoral behavior and public policy.
McAdams said the board appeared to have gone back on its original position, that it would do all it could to protect transparency, a position the GAB held when the ACLU approached it with the same issue last month.
The board, McAdams said, should have considered potential privacy concerns long before Monday, as it is immersed in reviewing petitions en route to deciding whether there will be recall elections.
In the interest of public transparency, Kennedy said the accountability board always has planned to release copies of recall petitions to anyone who requested them, and post them online. He said it delayed doing so after hearing from individuals concerned about their personal safety.
Media outlets, including Wisconsin Reporter,  on Tuesday filed open records requests seeking the release of the signatures.
Kennedy said it comes down to a matter of choice recall petition signers choose to participate in the public process of initiating a recall election.
In addition, officeholders and the public have a right to view the petitions, not only for the legal process of filing challenges to signatures, but to help ensure the transparency and accountability of the review process and of Wisconsins electoral system, he said.
Wisconsin Freedom of Information Wins ping
If you want on, or off, this Wisconsin interest ping list, just FReep mail me!
 Government Accountability Board: http://gab.wi.gov/
 Doe v. Reed: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/09-559.pdf
 Public Records Law: http://www.doj.state.wi.us/dls/OMPR/...PRO/2010_Pub_Rec_Outline.pdf
 American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin: http://www.aclu-wi.org/
 Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.wcadv.org/
 Scott Walker: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Scott_Walker
 Rebecca Kleefisch : http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Rebecca_Kleefisch
 J.B. Van Hollen: http://www.doj.wi.gov/ag/
 John McAdams: http://www.marquette.edu/polisci/faculty_mcadams.shtml
 Wisconsin Reporter,: http://www.wisconsinreporter.com/commentary-privacy-should-not-trump-transparency
This is hilarious. The Internet is like no other creation in fact checking data. Remember how quickly they were able to nuke Dan Rather’s fake documents?
Here is a blank recall petition. With someone’s name and address, not only will there already be any number of databases out there that will list genuine ones, but checkers can even use Google Earth to see a picture of the residence, or vacant lot, etc. There is also the Social Security death index, and lots of other tools, to eliminate dead signers, etc.
Data mining is designed to do stuff like this, and for such a simple search, it should be a breeze.
Hell, the data miners might even locate a whole bunch of illegal aliens, outstanding warrants for the police, legal deadbeats, and who knows who else in the process.
GAB chief: recall verification by tea party groups should not be considered
It looks like the G.A. B. is changing its transparency and other rules...Again!
Kevin Kennedy is a worm. I’ve had dealings with him (by phone) for more than 20 years, and he’s never done anythng but steer me the wrong direction.