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John Doe attorney defends Madison’s ballot harvest

Empower Wisconsin | Sept 29, 2020

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — It should come as no surprise that Madison’s city attorney told Republicans to pound sand after GOP legislative leadership warned the city to cease its shady absentee ballot collection events.

Michael Haas was one of the bureaucratic creeps behind Wisconsin’s infamous John Doe investigation into dozens of conservative groups.

The city attorney in a letter to  Misha Tseytlin, legal counsel for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), said Republicans’ allegations about Madison’s so-called “Democracy in the Park” event last weekend were unsubstantiated.

In a letter on Friday to Madison’s city clerk, Tseytlin said the initiative, in which election volunteers supposedly collected some 10,000 absentee ballots and served as witnesses for ballot recipients in over 200 Madison parks, appeared to be ‘unlawful,” presenting “grave risk that all ballots you collect through this campaign will be challenged in court and ultimately invalidated.”

Haas brushed aside the attorney’s concerns, asserting that state statute provides that ballots may be challenged for particular cause.

“The allowable reasons do not include that the challenger does not like the manner in which an absentee ballot is returned,” Haas smugly wrote.

Smug is the city attorney’s M.O.

Before taking his post with the lib city, Haas served as interim administrator for the state Elections Commission. The Republican-controlled Senate refused to confirm him in 2018. They had cause. Haas, contrary to his previous claims, was a key player in the politically motivated John Doe probe as an attorney at the old state Government Accountability Board.

The Legislature disbanded the GAB in 2016 after the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the abusive probe — which included predawn, armed raids on the homes of state conservatives and the illegal collection of millions of personal communications.

Haas came to election regulation from Democratic Party politics.

At the Wisconsin Elections Commission, the liberal pushed controversial policies and offered questionable guidance to Gov. Tony Evers on election matters. He did the same in defending the latest “get-out-the-vote” effort raising a lot of red flags about the security of thousands of absentee ballots.

“Absent any directive from the Wisconsin Elections Commission or a court, the City will proceed with Democracy in the Park, and it will process the ballots collected with other absentee ballots pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes. All voters are welcome to participate and observe the process which is designed to bring the entire community together to participate in democracy,” Haas wrote.

Madison has scheduled a similar event for this Saturday.

Andrew Hitt, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, on Monday said the party did enlist the help of poll observers to the Madison event.

“We’re working closely with not only our attorneys, but (Trump) campaign attorneys,” Hitt said, adding that “follow-up correspondence” would be going to Madison’s clerk. 

Spokespeople for the offices of Vos and Fitzgerald did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment.

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