Marinette County Would Like to Settle – A Thumbnail
Mary Magnuson vs. Marinette County
The of policy of imposing fees on citizens who seek to audit the ballots cast in the June 5 Recall Election, was tested by a law suit, and the county wants to settle. Marinette County is just one thumbnail of a much larger picture of such obstruction, since it served as a test case for the validity of the Government Accountability Board and Keven Kennedy to “suggest” that the vote audit can be obstructed by imposition of fees as were suggested in a document from GAB to all county clerks. GAB’s 15 Directives of Obstruction
Freedom of Information VS. Kevin Kennedy (GAB)-THE BIG PICTURE
(Pictured below Kevin Kennedy standing in for Mr. Potter – “It’s a Wonderful Life”)
I filed open records requests with Clerk Hoff in Vernon and and Clerk Geisler in Crawford County to inspect memory cards that held the electronic tally of vote machines and was met with obstruction in the form of fees and penalties that cancelled any “freedom” offered in the Freedom of Information Act. Clerk Hoff imposed a $16/hr fee for the time it would take to inspect the election materials, while Clerk Geisler warned that I would subject the taxpayers of Crawford County to a fee of $12,400 if memory cards were to be examined. The clerk in Marinette County imposed a fee of $21.12/hour for citizens to audit ballots. All three of these clerks and many others across the state were following the “suggestions” of the GAB and Kevin Kennedy. ESP # “6. Custodians of public records are entitled to charge location fees for the actual, necessary and direct cost of location of a record if the cost is $50 or more. Wis Stats. §19.35 (3)(c)” The decision of Marrinette County to settle suggests the county is unwilling to risk further obstruction of the ballot audit and avoid incurring all the costs and penalties connected with holding with the policies and fees outlined in Kevin Kennedy’s “suggestions”. In other words the people won! (Clerks Ron Hoff and Janet Geisler – Are you listening?)
The “Grassroots” Suite
The suite was brought by 30 common, everyday citizens who donated funds through a Wepay drive on face book and the internet, and $500 was collected in less than 24 hours to cover the retainer fee for Attorney Christa Westerberg, who is on the Freedom of Information Act Council of Wisconsin and who offered to forgo hourly fees. Marinette County was the test case, and judging from a willingness to settle, the grass roots appears to have survived the drought and is bound to over run the rag weed obstruction of the GAB and Kevin Kennedy. Great news for transparency, Democracy, and election protection!
Where does this leave Ron Hoff?
The Clerk of Vernon County is facing an election on Tuesday, August 14, and has already been called out on WKBT TV for holding false information on his official web site regarding a voter’s need for a Photo ID to obtain a ballot.
Below is the WKBT TV broadcast on Monday
One of Clerk Hoff’s constituents hand delivered a open records request to examine election materials for the June 5 Recall Election and was told by Clerk Hoff that he would be charged $16/hr to view the materials and that none of the materials could be touched. Hoff said that he would be getting back to the constituent to set up a time by Thursday, but he did not communicate back until the following Monday.
At the $16/hr inspection Clerk Hoff was asked for a required document, “Chain of Custody of Memory Cards” he did a “slight of hand” and produced an “Election Incident Form” – the two required documents are as different as a marriage license and a dog license. He was asked if the memory cards that were stacked on the counter, had been in his office since the June 5 election, and he avoided the question three times. I later learned that the memory cards for the town of De Soto were sent back early – a week before the period required by law.
His charge for viewing election materials under an open records request is in direct opposition to the Freedom of Information Act as supported by the settlement request in Marinette County. Furthermore, all costs born in litigation are the responsibility of the municipality or county, and these costs could be significant.
A Joyous End
The misinformation, treatment of constituents requests, and allegations of misuse of the clerk’s office could end up costing the taxpayers of Vernon County a lot of money. Fortunately, there is some “joy” on the horizon. Joy Conley, who has experience in the clerks office and a good grasp of election integrity issues, is running to replace him. Joy Conley web site