The state Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus said he had multiple conversations with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's top aide before Van Hollen filed a lawsuit against the state election agency to compel expanded voter registration checks. Priebus defended his contacts with Deputy Attorney General Ray Taffora, his comments in Van Hollen's presence this month at the Republican National Convention criticizing the election agency, and meetings between GOP lawyers and the Justice Department lawyers handling the lawsuit.
Van Hollen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week that he was not aware of contacts between his office and state GOP officials.
Let’s see if I have this right: Van Hollen was unaware of contacts between his office and GOP officials, Priebus complained that the Board follow the HAVA law at a convention breakfast in front of “lawman” Van Hollen, complained again in a “small group setting” about the Board not following the HAVA law with “law enforcer” Van Hollen present and talked with the Deputy AG prior to the lawsuit 3 times. That was followed up by the state GOP filing a motion Monday seeking to intervene in the case to protect legitimate votes.
Priebus said he expressed his frustration about the accountability board's decision several times at the GOP convention in St. Paul Sept. 1-4, including once at a convention delegate breakfast attended by Van Hollen and another in a small group setting in which Van Hollen was present.
"It's important that in my comments to the delegation and even standing around
in the breakfast room or the staff room with J.B., there was nothing more I said than the continuation of my general feeling that the Government Accountability Board needs to follow the HAVA law. There was no strategizing."
Priebus also said he talked to Taffora at least three times about the voter checks before Van Hollen filed the lawsuit. But he said he was not involved in any decisions Van Hollen's office made about it. He said party officials didn't collaborate with Van Hollen, a Republican (and co-chair of the McCain Campaign), in preparing the lawsuit against the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections.
But state Democratic Party Chairman Joe Wineke said, "What he is doing is pushing the agenda of the Republican Party of Wisconsin."