Nasty robo-calls in Wisconsin?

Some voters say they've received calls telling them they don't need to vote if they signed the recall petition

Published June 5, 2012 11:43AM (EDT)

With both sides counting on dramatic turnout, Tom Barrett’s campaign is charging Scott Walker supporters with dirty tricks. In an email sent to supporters last night, Barrett for Wisconsin finance director Mary Urbina-McCarthy wrote, “Reports coming into our call center have confirmed that Walker’s allies just launched a massive wave of voter suppression calls to recall petition signers.” According to Urbina-McCarthy, the message of the calls was: “If you signed the recall petition, your job is done and you don’t need to vote on Tuesday.”

Last night I talked to a Wisconsin voter who says she received just such a robo-call. Carol Gibbons told me she picked up the phone and heard a male voice saying “thank you for taking this call,” and that “if you signed the recall petition, you did not have to vote because that would be your vote.” After hearing the vote-suppressing message, said Gibbons, “I wanted to take the phone and throw it in the middle of the road.”  Gibbons is a retired public employee and a staunch Walker opponent. If he wins the recall, she warned, “He’s going to roll over us like pieces of dirt. He’s going to say, ‘They voted for me twice – I can do whatever I want.’” (I received Gibbons’ contact info from a volunteer who had called her as part of MoveOn’s virtual GOTV phone bank).

Urbina-McCarthy’s email requested donations to fund a new round of phone calls to all recall petition signers to make sure they know they still need to vote. Reached over email, Barrett spokesperson Phil Walzak said, “If true, this shows the desperation of Walker and his right-wing allies in the final hours of the campaign, and the depths to which they will sink to maintain their grip on power at the expense of the people and values of the great state of Wisconsin.”

Reached over email, Walker spokesperson Ciara Matthews didn't question the existence of the calls, but accused Barrett's campaign of falsely blaming her candidate: "Any accusation that our campaign is making those calls is categorically false and unfounded. Once again Mayor Barrett and his campaign are trying to falsely attack Governor Walker with absolutely no evidence. This is a desperate move by Mayor Barrett to avoid addressing his lack of a plan to create jobs in Wisconsin."

By Josh Eidelson

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Wisconsin Recall