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Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Says He Won Election Based on Count Mistakes Made By Clerk With Criminal Record Who Used to Work for Him

April 8, 2011

Image by OnTask via Flickr

In a case of living proof that life is crazier than fiction, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice candidate, David Prosser (described by some as a rather rabid conservative Republican), has made national news by announcing that he “remains hopeful” after news was announced that  tens of thousands of previously miscounted votes now indicate that he is in the lead:

“Our confidence is high, and we will continue to monitor with optimism, and believe that the positive results will hold. We’ve always maintained faith in the voters and trust the election officials involved in the canvasing will reaffirm the lead we’ve taken.

The clerk involved in the miscounts has a criminal record and has been the subject of past investigations related to her professional integrity in the performance of her job duties:

Nickolaus was given immunity from prosecution in a 2002 criminal investigation into illegal activity by members of the Republican Assembly caucus where she worked as a data analyst and computer specialist. Prosser, who as speaker of the Assembly in 1995 and 1996 controlled the same caucus, was not part of the investigation. Nickolaus resigned from her state job in 2002 just before launching her county clerk campaign.

The corruption probe took down five legislative leaders, all of whom reached plea deals…

An audit of Nickolaus’ handling of the 2010 election found that she needed to take steps to improve security and backup procedures, like stop sharing passwords. The audit was requested after the county’s director of administration said Nickolaus had been uncooperative with attempts to have county experts review her systems and confirm backups were in place.

The Government Accountability Board, which is in charge of overseeing Wisconsin’s elections, will review Waukesha County’s numbers to verify the totals, said agency director Kevin Kennedy.

While the connection has been made between Prosser, the candidate, his relationship to the Republican party corruption scandal, and the clerk who was involved in it and is now stating that she “found 14,000 votes” in Prosser’s favor, no one has directly stated that the clerk has done anything illegal:

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said more than 14,000 votes weren’t reported to The Associated Press on Tuesday due to “human error.” Nickolaus previously worked for a GOP caucus that was under the control of Justice David Prosser, who was speaker of the Assembly at the time and who now stands to benefit from the clerk’s error.

“This is not a case of extra votes or extra ballots being found,” Nickolaus said. “This is human error, which I apologize for.”…

Nickolaus said she didn’t notice an absence of votes because her figures showed a 42 percent voter turnout, which exceeded the 30 percent turnout the county typically sees in spring elections.

“That was an amazing amount of votes,” she said. “So I had no reason to believe I was missing anything.”

Yes, seriously.  This woman entered a plea deal, which is what happens when a person exchanges information to try to avoid facing criminal charges, not that she wasn’t guilty, and then she loses 14,000 votes, as a clerk, and says she “had no reason to believe I was missing anything.”  For real?  Oh yeah, for real, and she works for our good ole guvment of the U. S. of fuckin’ A.  Hell yeah.

Legal, schmegal, this is, after all, only a Supreme Court justice election we’re talking about, right?  Why worry about details like past criminal history, past security investigations, professional ethics, or anything like that, right? I mean, after all, this clerk kept all the data on her own personal computer, rather than have it on any sort of governmental structure:

Questions were immediately raised about the new announcement. As Schneider wrote, prior to the election, Nickolaus “was heavily criticized for her decision to keep the county results on anantiquated personal computer, rather than upgrade to a new data system being utilized statewide.

Oh, and they forgot to mention that supposedly, the more liberal justice had won, until Ms.  Nickolaus announced that she had “made an error.”

Kloppenburg declared victory on the basis of a final statewide tally which showed her separated from Justice David Prosser by just 204 votes. “The numbers show that we won, and we are gratified to have that victory in hand,” she said. The victory is not quite in Kloppenburg’s grasp, however.

A recount could begin as soon as next week. “As long as the rules are clear, as long as there aren’t ballots somehow found out of the blue that weren’t counted before, things of that nature, as long as everything’s above board, I think that’s fair,” said Walker.

Except, that little bitty guvment bit about storing election results on a personal computer comes up, and that clerk with the criminal corruption record  for her involvement in illegal political activity states that suddenly 14,000 more votes appeared. Funny how that goes, isn’t it?

Ms. Nickolaus appears unfazed by her own corruption, investigations, finding herself guilty of criminal political actions, illegal political actions, and apparently the dumbest approach ever to counting votes, maybe even dumb enough to be criminal…hmm, how about that…

Back in 2002, when Nickolaus’ campaign received heavy funding from the very political party she was involved with when she took a plea deal, for which she appears to have no shame, people in Wisconsin predicted that there would be problems with elections:

A candidate for Waukesha County clerk is one of several caucus workers who was granted immunity from prosecution in the criminal investigation into illegal campaigning on state time.

Kathy Nickolaus, 42, a Republican, said she hopes voters will accept her role in the ongoing scandal — but she can’t talk about it.

“I can’t really say anything about the probe,” she said. “I was offered immunity and I took it.”

Nickolaus, who lives near Oconomowoc, worked for 13 years as a data analyst and computer specialist for the Assembly Republican caucus, one of four GOP and Democratic legislative groups now under scrutiny.

District attorneys are investigating whether caucus employees did illegal political work on state time.

Nickolaus resigned from her state job May 10 and launched a campaign for county clerk. She said she is under orders not to say anything about the investigation.

“I expected this to come out, and I expected to get questions,” she said. “I believe in open and accountable government.”

But some people said they are concerned about Nickolaus’ history, because the county clerk oversees elections.

Republican opponent Kathy Milbrath-Karalewitz, 41, the Menomonee Falls village clerk, said her decision to enter the race was solidified when she heard a former state caucus worker with no clerk experience wanted the job.

“I don’t think voters want that today,” she said. “They want someone who’s honest and up front.”

Yes, yes, you guessed it, the people of Wisconsin are psychic, the only explanation for guessing that a person who was an aide to Prosser and has a criminal history linked to illegal political activity, with no experience as a clerk, who happened to store voting tallies on her own personal computer, and was funded by the Republican party in her own election, and whom has a history of making mistakes counting in past elections, is now under the spotlight for her role in these 14,000 election irregularities.

The site even helpfully listed the errors Ms. Nickolaus tallied up, all as our good ole guvment employee:

There’s more. In 2006, she had some difficulty with absentee ballots. In 2006 again, we have her using the exact same excuse for why she accidentally reported one candidate ahead when the other one really was. Seems she moved data into the wrong column. We’ve heard that one before, haven’t we? In 2007 she blamed touch screen voting machines for flipping a school board election result. The margin? One vote.

In 2004, she had another “oopsie moment” and sent out sample ballots instructing voters to vote for her favorite candidate. Also in 2004, incorrect ballots went to voters in two different districts, so that 83 votes were cast for the wrong candidates. And it seems that close races are something common in Waukesha County.

But fear not. Our brave Waukesha County Clerk is a passionate proponent of Voter ID laws and appears to be an ardent pro-lifer. I imagine from the description in that post that she would be heartbroken to see Wisconsin’s Supreme Court tilt any way but hard right.

Oh, also? Kathy Nickolaus was a staffer for…wait for it…David Prosser.

No topping that one. At the very least, can we just state that the woman is a a failure when it comes to doing her job and assign someone to the counting, someone who doesn’t have ties to the very candidate she seems to hope might win?

Seems to me, to be coincidental in the extreme (as just about everything dealing with the Wisconsin Republican party seems to be) that the more liberal candidate announces her win, barring any kind of recount and then the woman who used to work for the losing candidate shoots up her hand and says something I imagine like: “Hey, I know I used to work for Prosser and all. And, well, I know he officially lost, but well, I found some more votes, right?  I mean, I found like 14,000 votes, even though I know I have made mistakes in the past, like big mistakes in 2004, 2006, 2007, and well that little bit about my plea deal for illegal political activity back around 2000-2002… But, hey, that guy I used to work for, the one who is supported by the party that was just nice enough to dump me enough shush money, I mean campaign money for the 2002 election, when I got this job? Well he is the winner.  I found all these votes myself, on my very own personal computer…”

No biggie, ’cause I see that happening all the time, just a little bitty coincidence.

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