Government and Political News: A fourth lawsuit has been filed against the new voter ID lawWisconsin News
-- A fourth lawsuit has been filed against Wisconsin’s new voter I-D law.
A fourth lawsuit has been filed against Wisconsin’s new voter I-D law. The Advancement Project, a Washington group that deals with racial justice issues, filed its suit yesterday in federal court. Milwaukee groups that represent Hispanics and African-Americans are listed as plaintiffs. Erika Maye of the Advancement Project says those groups have hundreds of members who are disenfranchised by the new law – because they’re far less likely to have the allowable photo I-D’s that are required to vote. Attorney Denise Lieberman of the Advancement Project says the Wisconsin law violates the federal Voting Rights Act, and she hopes the courts can strike it down before the state’s presidential primary on April third. The A-C-L-U, the League of Women Voters, and the N-Double-A-C-P also have suits pending against new voter law. But unlike those cases, the Advancement Project does not name Governor Scott Walker as a defendant. Lieberman says the Government Accountability Board is the only defendant, because it’s the one charged with carrying out the new law.
A top aide to Governor Scott Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive is scheduled to enter pleas today to embezzlement charges. Tim Russell’s arraignment was supposed to be held eight days ago. But it was called off when Milwaukee County Circuit Judge J-D Watts suddenly removed himself from the case for reasons that were never disclosed. Circuit Judge David Hansher will hear Russell’s pleas to two felony embezzlement charges and a similar misdemeanor count. The 48-year-old Russell is accused of stealing 21-thousand dollar from an annual Milwaukee County event that benefits Wisconsin veterans and their families. Russell used to be Walker’s chief-of-staff in Milwaukee County. He’s one of four people charged as part of an ongoing John Doe investigation. Meanwhile, a judge in Waukesha is scheduled to rule today on a request to drop child enticement charges against Russell’s domestic partner. Brian Pierick was charged with evidence gathered in the John Doe probe. But the case is not related to the Doe investigation. Pierick is accused of meeting a teenage boy whom he thought was 19, but was actually 17. His attorney said Pierick was not trying to arrange sexual contact with the minor.
A U-W Madison political scientist said Republican lawmakers quote, “radically reconfigured” Assembly districts much more than they had to. Ken Mayer testified at a federal court trial in Milwaukee, where Democrats and Hispanics are trying to throw out the legislative districts drawn up by the G-O-P last year. Republicans said they followed the law by making the new districts equal in population in accordance with the 2010 Census. But Mayer said Republicans diminished the ability of Hispanics in Ozaukee County to elect the person of their choice, because 719 times as many people as necessary were moved out of their previous Assembly district. He said the 60th District was only under-populated by 10 people – but the G-O-P moved 17-thousand-963 people into that district, while moving 17-thousand-595 out. Mayer also said Hispanic districts were also diluted on Milwaukee’s south side. That was one of the main arguments raised by a Hispanic group, which joined a group of Democrats in trying to get new maps ruled unconstitutional. Also yesterday, Republican attorney Jim Troupis gave a deposition to Democrats and explained how the districts were drafted. He said the G-O-P’s redistricting team had met last January with realtors, bankers, and business lobbyists to help them prepare for the process. But Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar, who’s arguing the G-O-P’s case, said judges should only consider the maps themselves – and now how they were drawn up. She said quote, “the process of legislation is not on trial.” Testimony is expected to wrap up today.
The state treasurer’s office has tried for years to return unclaimed property to Wisconsinites. Now, Treasurer Kurt Schuller is working with the Veterans’ Affairs Department to return things like stocks and savings accounts that the state’s military veterans have forgotten about. Financial institutions and others must turn over the properties to the state if they’re not claimed in a certain amount of time. And the treasurer’s office normally leaves it you to check its Internet list if you think you’re owed something. But with the veterans, Schuller’s staff is doing the legwork – and they’ve tracked down 45-hundred Wisconsin veterans who had something coming. Generally, it’s not much. But Schuller said one elderly couple in Wauwatosa had 750-thousand-dollars coming – and he hand-delivered it personally.