State elections officials have received paperwork in the first effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
The state Government Accountability Board said the request was filed Friday, the first possible date of the recall. The statement of intent was filed with the Government Accountability Board in downtown Madison at about 2 p.m.
Organizers must gather 540,000 signatures in 60 days to force a recall election of the Republican governor.
The petition was filed by David Brandt, of Muskego, and the "Close Friends to Recall Walker" committee. Brandt said in the filing he was registering a recall committee to "fulfill my friend's last request."
The surprise move, which comes two weeks before the Nov. 15 date that Walkers' opponents had said they would formally begin the recall effort, is something Democrats are calling a Republican ploy.
Democrats and United Wisconsin, the organization who plans to file the paperwork, had been gearing up to file for a recall, but said the man who filed on Friday isn't affiliated with them, and they're alleging a scam to help the governor. Since the petition has been filed now, Walker can begin receiving unlimited political donations from supporters to use for certain specific spending.
Democrats said that they believe Brandt is actually a Republican meant to sabotage the recall.
Lynn Freeman, a board member with United Wisconsin, said that they thought this very scenario was something that could happen.
"We've talked for this whole period of planning that there would likely be a filing and we speculated that it would actually be a supporter of Walker because this enables walker to unleash the war chest of dollars. He now has access to millions of dollars to defend himself and run a new campaign," Freeman said.
WISC-TV attempted to contract Brandt at his home on Friday, but was unable to reach him for comment. He donated $50 to the governor's campaign in 2010 and Bettie Brandt, a woman who lives at the same address, gave Walker's campaign $100 last fall. He also gave money to the Republican Party last January.
State GOP spokeswoman Nicole Larson said the party knew about Brandt's statement of intent, but refuted Democrats? assertions that Friday?s actions amounted to recall sabotage.
"Based on the accusations about the filing today, let me clarify that the rumors being circulated by the Democrats are completely false," spokeswoman Nicole Larson wrote in an email.
Brad Courtney, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, issued a statement on Friday afternoon condemning the recall effort.
"The attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker is an abuse of the recall process, put forward by selfishly-motivated Democrats who are more interested in regaining power than in the best interests of Wisconsin families," Courtney said in the statement.
Filing Prompts Recall Questions
Regardless of the circumstances, the filing means the governor can begin to raise unlimited funds by state law.
As for the recall organizations, United Wisconsin has been fundraising as a political action committee. When they register as a recall committee, they can change their filing and begin fundraising for that with the typical legal limits of a $10,000 contribution from an individual, but no limits on contributions from other political action committees.
In his filing, Brandt said he wouldn't raise or spend more than $1,000 on his recall effort.
While Brandt filed, there are no limits to the number of groups that can file to recall an elected official. This means that United Wisconsin can continue to plan to file on Nov. 15, which they have said they will do.
Brandt's filing also doesn't change the recall deadline. Each group has a 60-day window to collect the the necessary signatures that would be needed to recall the governor. Their deadlines don't affect each other. So, if United Wisconsin or any other group waits until Nov. 15, they will still have until mid-January to submit their petitions.
The potential for a number of recall efforts could create confusion about whether a person can sign multiple recall petitions. The law says a person can sign different petitions as long as they are for a different committee's effort. If, by any chance two groups register to recall, they could have the option to combine efforts and signatures, but only using those gathered in one of their 60-day windows. If that happens and they have duplicate names, it could be a problem, WISC-TV reported.
It's unclear if the person filing to recall Walker intends to circulate petitions at all, WISC-TV reported.
Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.