Thursday, December 11, 2008

AFPW strikes back at false accusers

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, exonerated by the Government Accountability Board for their mailing in the Gableman-Butler race, filed complaints today against two attorneys for their behavior in the investigation.

Michael D. Dean, an attorney for the Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin chapter (AFPW), filed complaints with the U.S. attorney in Madison, the U.S. Postal Service and the state Office of Lawyer Regulation accusing lawyer Mike Wittenwyler of tampering with the mail. The complaint accuses Wittenwyler of opening an AFPW mailing addressed to a dead man and forwarding it to state election officials for an investigation.

Dean filed another complaint with the Office of Lawyer Regulation accusing lawyer Stephen Hurley, whom state election officials appointed to look into the mailing, with trying to trick AFPW's printer into giving him information.

...According to Dean's complaint against Wittenwyler, AFPW executive director Mark Block sent a mailing to a Madison member named Matthias Stelly in March. The mailing urged members to vote for Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman instead of incumbent Justice Louis Butler in an April 1 state Supreme Court election. Gableman won.

But Stelly had died.

Wittenwyler, an attorney who specializes in election law and political issue ads, had moved into Stelly's house and got the mailing.

Instead of returning it to AFPW, the complaint said, Wittenwyler opened it, scanned it into his computer and e-mailed it to the state Government Accountability Board. He questioned whether AFPW had violated state statutes that prohibit political communications with people who aren't members.

The board appointed Hurley to investigate.

According to Dean's complaint against him, Becker had decided by the end of August to recommend the board drop the probe. But Hurley sent a one-paragraph letter to AFPW printer Bill Johnson on Sept. 12 asking if he could speak to Johnson about the investigation and that anything said would be confidential.

Dean alleged Hurley knew Becker had decided to recommend an end to the investigation when he sent the letter. He also claimed Hurley was trying to fool Johnson into turning over confidential AFPW member information and the letter implied Johnson couldn't tell AFPW about Hurley's request.

The best way to respond to a political witch hunt is not to stand for it.