The Democratic Party has targeted for harassment people who signed recall petitions against [Democratic] Senator [Dave] Hansen, making calls on beginning on Monday April 25th using a fake phone number and caller ID that showed up on phones as “Bay Care Aurora,” a well-known Green Bay area medical center. Once recall supporters answered the phone, they were told they were speaking with a Democrat Party of Wisconsin operative, and were questioned about signing a petition to recall Hansen.
“It’s disgusting that the Dems would use a fake call from a hospital to trick people into answering their phones – only so they could harass and intimidate them into saying they did not sign a recall petition,” said Mark Jefferson, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “People who received that call may have feared the worst – an unexpected call from a hospital can bring terrible news about a loved one. The Democrats’ intent was obviously to confuse and upset people, hoping they would be disoriented and easily tricked into saying they had not signed a recall petition. Dave Hansen’s political career may be coming to an end because he fled to Illinois, but that doesn’t excuse this cruel, desperate tactic.”
I would have guessed that their intent was simply to get people on the line, knowing that if the caller ID read “Wisconsin Democratic Party,” some would have said “to hell with them” and refused to pick up. The Democrats’ response: It was an honest mistake by the phone vendor that they were using and was quickly corrected. (The vendor issued its own statement accepting full responsibility; follow the link for more.) Believe ’em or no? Philip Klein of the Examiner argues that it’s unclear how Democrats would have benefited from a dirty trick:
In a heated campaign such as this, it’s always best to use caution when it comes to such accusations. But if the charges do turn out to be true, it’s hard to see what Democrats would hope to accomplish. I can’t imagine that the number of signatures they could theoretically invalidate would be worth the risk of exposure. And given that those who would sign a petition to recall a Democratic senator are likely a pretty active and conservative sample, it seems that the risk of exposure would be quite high.
Right. High risk, low reward, and even if the caller didn’t end up reporting them to the media or the state GOP, he/she was bound to be pissed off at having been misled about who was on the other end of the line. Not a good way to win someone over to your anti-Republican campaign if you’re a Democrat. So I take them at their word about the Bayview mix-up, but I don’t know why they’re phoning people who signed the recall petition in the first place. The Wisconsin Dems’ statement claims they were following up on “numerous reports of people who have been misled by Republican petition circulators,” but that’s something that the state AG should investigate rather than the party. Frankly, after death threats against Republican legislators and “unfortunate overzealousness” by union operatives threatening boycotts against businesses that didn’t oppose Walker, I’d be creeped out getting a call at home from Wisconsin liberals who found my name on a recall petition. Their intentions may be pure, but in that political climate it’s bound to feel like a “we know where you live” warning to some. Is that unfair? If so, boo hoo. Tell it to this guy.