The Capital Times, doing the journalistic heavy lifting that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel apparently refuses to do, on Sunday notes that two state Republican legislators urged St. Steven Biskupic to investigate voter fraud in southeastern Wisconsin -- before the election even happened!
The more than 100 pages of released DOJ records, however, reveal how hard state Republicans pushed for fraud probes.
State Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, sent several letters to Biskupic's office, asking in October 2004 that Biskupic and the FBI "investigate possible wrongdoing in the registration of certain voters in Southeastern Wisconsin. We ask this with the hope that any activity worthy of prosecution be followed to the full extent of the law."
State Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, also wrote Biskupic in October 2004 to express his concern that "fraud may play a large role in the outcome of the (upcoming) election."
This report struck the Brawler as strange. Why? Well, according to Bisk and the Journal Sentinel, investigating voter fraud was all McCann's idea and Bisk was never under any pressure! From the 4/13/07 Journal Sentinel:
Biskupic said it was former Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann's idea to team up on voter fraud cases. McCann is a Democrat.
Fourteen cases were charged, although only five resulted in convictions.
One of those cases involves Kimberly Prude, who was convicted of voting as a felon. Federal appeals court Judge Diane Wood said in December in connection with the Prude case, "I find this whole prosecution mysterious. I don't know whether the Eastern District of Wisconsin goes after every felon who accidentally votes. It is not like she voted five times. She cast one vote."
The appeals court has not yet ruled in the Prude case.
Biskupic said he was never instructed to prosecute voter fraud cases.
The former communications director of the state Republican Party wrote a 30-page report about alleged voting improprieties in Wisconsin in the 2004 election, and it was given to Karl Rove, deputy White House chief of staff and President Bush's primary political adviser. A White House spokeswoman said issues from the report were discussed by the president and Gonzales. Someone wrote on a page included with the report that federal prosecution of voter fraud in Milwaukee was only "so-so."
Biskupic said he was never aware of the GOP's report.
Granted, when Bisk said he was never instructed to prosecute voter fraud cases he was referring (the Brawler assumes) to the White House/Justice. Yet it's weird: The Brawler doesn't recall Bisk mentioning the correspondence he received from Stone and Kanavas in that JS interview. Must have slipped his mind.
We all recall that a week before the 2004 election, in late October,the state GOP called for thousands of Milwaukee voters to be purged from the rolls because of alleged fake addresses that in the vast majority of instances were transcription errors.
We now know that probably earlier that month -- the reports don't say exactly when the letters were sent -- Bisk was urged, repeatedly, by state pols to investigate voter fraud.
We also know that in the next election cycle, the White House was pressing the Justice Department to investigate voter fraud in Wisconsin. Justice balked.
Was the White House (read:Karl Rove) one way or another ultimately behind Kanavas and Stone's requests in 04? Or were they just freelancing?
Rick Graber, then chairman of the state GOP and now the face of American democracy in the Czech Republic, likely would know. And the Journal Sentinel lately has been doing some hardcore reporting on him.
Turns out, he hasn't seen Brangelina!
Intriguingly, the story the JS did on the newly released Bisk memos noted that he had received strong performance reviews before being put on the chopping block. He's a helluva guy, that Bisk, if you can get past the whole putting a grandmother in prison thing.
Also, the Cappy Times notes that Bisk was seeking voter roll data from Madison and other parts of southeastern Wisconsin as well.
Update: Lightly edited for clarity.