Watching Journal Sentinel’s headlines; Sleazy moves by Tom Reynolds’ PAC

Today’s issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had two stories that stood out to me. The first was on the recently vetoed sales tax referendum. The paper version of MJS gave that a headline atop the Metro section that all but hailed Walker as foreseeing the referendum’s defeat: “Walker Predicts Sales Tax Vote Will Fail.” (I will have the exact headline by the end of the day.)  Speaking out the other side of its mouth, the online MJS ran the same story as a tiny item in the buried “NEWS” area on the JSOnline, and gave it a totally different headline: “Walker expects to lose battle to stop sales tax referendum.” Are they trying to do something by giving the same story drastically different headlines? Is it that the Republican-leaning suburban market that still gets papers delivered likes to see Walker ballyhooed as he attempts to strangle the County government, while the online audience prefers to see him castigated for his total lack of positive government reform? It’s curious that the Journal Sentinel’s editors made these choices.

The other significant story dealt with potential challengers to state Senator Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) and state Rep. Pedro Colón (D-Milwaukee). The state of Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board may investigate who it was that filed an unsigned complaint (emphasis added) against Sen. Coggs (D-Milwaukee), and to “determine whether the complaint was frivolous.” While it is technically legitimate to question the signatures on a candidate’s nomination form, doing so is seen as a bit if dirty pool, using any available tactic to preemptively defeat your opponent before you (the candidate or an organization backing a candidate) need to actually run in the race and attempt to defeat the other candidate(s) on the ballot.

Appropriately, the board will consider whether to “[sanction] whoever made the complaint. Board member Gerald Nichol told fellow board members they ought to investigate to show the public they would not tolerate frivolous complaints.” The decision on this will be made behind closed doors, though we should be able to see the notes from that meeting once it is over with.

A similar thing happened to Rep. Pedro Colón. According to MJS, “Milwaukee Democrat Laura L. Manriquez had cited numerous deficiencies with Colón’s paperwork, including addresses that might not exist and addresses from outside the district. The board said some of Colón’s signatures should not be allowed, but that he still had more than the 200 necessary.”

Ms. Manriquez also filed a complaint with Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. Quoting JS, “Because Chisholm has worked with both Manriquez and Colón, he has asked the state Department of Justice to act as a special prosecutor, said chief Deputy District Attorney Jon Reddin… Manriquez also launched a challenge against the other Democrat in that race, José Guzmán, but the board rejected it as well. They will meet in the Sept. 9 primary.”

What’s most curious about this is that one of the people behind this attempt to preemptively oust our elected officials may be none other than our old friend, former state Sen. Tom Reynolds. Dear Mr. Reynolds now heads Clean Sweep Wisconsin PAC, a political action committee that seeks to unseat incumbent Democratic Party officials by running faux Democrats against them in the primary election with hopes of unseating the incumbent. Presumably, the faux Dem would run with a major infusion of cash from the slime-PAC, defeat the real Dem in the primary, and then continue on in the November election, when the majority of Democratic voters in the district would then likely vote for the whole Democratic ticket in the November election, thus ushering in the Republican in Dem’s clothing — the very same trick that Sheriff Dave Clarke has used every time he’s had to run for reelection.

Again, according to MJS, “Based on a description given by the staff member who received the complaint, Elections Board Director Kevin Kennedy said he believed the complaint was filed by former state Sen. Tom Reynolds (R-West Allis) and a Democrat who tried to run against Coggs.” [Link.]

While Clean Sweep PAC has tried to challenge candidates’ ballot status as a way to get their operatives in, all that they have earned so far is a big red FAIL.

For some reason, the apparently anonymous complainant sent an unsigned copy of the complaint to the Government Accountability Board, alleging that “Coggs had forged signatures on his nomination papers, among other claims.” [JS] While I don’t know the particular rules of the Government Accountability Board, I imagine that sending them an unsigned statement would rather undermine the complainant’s case that any foul had been committed.

The bumbles kept on coming when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel received a copy of the complaint, this one signed by Nicholas E. Cosey, who is or was Sen. Coggs’ Democratic primary opponent. “Coggs’ Democratic primary opponent, Nicholas E. Cosey, did not return a call last week from the Journal Sentinel asking if he knew anything about the complaint. [Mr. Reynolds also did not return their calls.] The newspaper later received a copy of the complaint with Cosey’s signature on it.”

Earlier, Mr. Cosey has been board kicked off the ballot Government Accountability Board “because it said he fell short of getting the 400 valid signatures necessary to be on the ballot.”

While the Journal Sentinel does not make any mention of Reynold’s PAC, either online or in the print article, nor do they make clear if Ms. Manriquez or Jose Guzman are affiliated with Reynolds’ PAC, I will thank Journal Sentinel’s Patrick Marley and Stacy Forster for their work on this story. This blip on the electoral radar may have otherwise gone unnoticed and allow Reynold’s sleazy tactics to remain unexposed.

One thing is clear. Our state, once renowned for clean government, has fallen off the wagon. Between Tom Reynold’s PAC and WMC’s purchases of the sate Supreme Court and attorney general, we’re in for a long, hard slog through some deep electoral manure.


Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

2 thoughts on “Watching Journal Sentinel’s headlines; Sleazy moves by Tom Reynolds’ PAC”

  1. Considering he used to be a part of the political establishment, Tom Reynolds sure doesn’t know how to move through the system.

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