Wis. County GOP to Sue Over Illegal Taping of Meeting

Saturday, 04 Jun 2011 01:54 PM

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Fallout from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-cutting measures continues with another legal twist in which the La Crosse County Republican Party plans to file a lawsuit because somebody illegally taped the group’s recent monthly meeting. The taping captured discussion of the possibility of running a spoiler candidate against a Democrat who is challenging GOP Sen. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse in Kapanke’s recall election in July.

Dan Kapanke, Wisconsin, budget
Republican State Sen. Dan Kapanke, who faces a recall election in July addresses the media during the budget impasse in March. (Getty Images Photo)
Party Chairman Bill Feehan, who says he plans to file a suit soon, told the La Crosse Tribune, “I had to seek legal counsel regarding the illegal taping of our meeting. We’ve now been told it’s a violation of a state statute regarding wire tapping.”

Party Vice Chairman Julian Bradley announced early in the meeting that it should not be taped, so whoever made the tape broke state law, Feehan told the Tribune.

“We’re not going to take this laying down,” Feehan said.

In a tape segment the Tribune obtained, Bradley says he spoke with Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state GOP, about finding a candidate who could run against Democrat Jennifer Schilling to force a primary in Kapanke’s recall election. Shilling is the only Democrat who has announced plans to challenge Kapanke, one of several Republican and Democratic senators targeted for recall evolving from the controversy over Walker’s budget moves and cutting state workers’ collective-bargaining rights in February and March.

Kapanke campaign manager Jennifer Harrington has denied being involved in discussions about a spoiler candidate.

But in another segment of the tape, county GOP spokesman Chris Rochester reportedly is recorded as saying he had spoken with Harrington about the plan. Rochester has since said that he misspoke at the meeting and had not discussed the spoiler strategy with Kapanke’s campaign.

Harrington repeated to the Tribune that the Kapanke campaign isn’t looking for a spoiler to take on Shilling in a primary.

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