WARNING: Put Wisconsin First, a pro-Walker recall petition site and facebook page, does not tolerate facts

This is a post by Ronald Kossik

“Put Wisconsin First” are the folks responsible for an online database of Walker recall petition signers, searchable by zip code, by anyone with an Internet connection. This is not merely some guy with a web site; this is part of a collaboration of formidable organizations, capable of marshaling the resources necessary to manually type 800,000 names and addresses from the scanned petition sheets provided by the GAB (assuming they really did type in a total of 800,000 signatures, as claimed).

Substantial amounts of time and money were invested by Walker supporters to try to intimidate recall signers, and to use disinformation to discredit the petition itself.

Unfortunately, as is the case with many right-wing advocacy groups, they are determined to spread lies and confusion, and they aggressively renounce and suppress any facts that expose their deceit. For example, Put Wisconsin First claims that only 800,000 signatures were submitted, an unreasonably low number which is partly explained by their decision to only include signatures that are accompanied by a valid Wisconsin zip code. They also just assume that the name and other information must be legible in order for the signature to be valid.

Put Wisconsin First recently posted a sort-of-friendly message on their Facebook page, explaining what to do if a name is missing from their database:

  • Put Wisconsin First New house rule: If someone wants to complain they can’t find their signature please ask them to provide a link to the PDF page, at the GAB web site, and the text of the names and addresses and we will include them in the ZIP CODE search tool.

“That sounds reasonable,” I thought, so I posted this polite and factual comment:

  • Ronald Kossik The zip code is not required, so when I was circulating, I often told people to skip it to save time. The signatures are still valid. Is there a way to find signatures without zip codes? If not, that’s a LOT of valid signatures to exclude.

That seemed pretty mild to me, but “Bill”, who seems to be a Put Wisconsin First moderator, starts getting upset:

  • Bill Schmalfeldt I think Zip codes are required. Please provide a link to the recall law saying they are not.
  • Bill Schmalfeldt Also again, this is a tool to help find petitions. If it doesn’t work for you don’t use it.
  • Bill Schmalfeldt If you want to search by something else, make your own tool I guess.
  • Bill Schmalfeldt Let me ask, why have it on the face in the area of required fields if it isn’t required?

It’s not my responsibility to educate Bill, but in the interest of fighting misinformation, I pulled up the recall statutes (something Bill should have done before he started spreading his false assumptions), and posted the information that Bill demanded:

  • Ronald Kossik
    (e) An individual signature on a petition sheet may not be counted if

    4. The residency of the signer of the petition sheet cannot be determined by the address given

    (g) The burden of proof for any challenge rests with the individual bringing the challenge.

Posting the facts proving Bill wrong was too much, and so a moderator deleted the state statutes I posted, I guess because they don’t like them, so they’re going to pretend they don’t exist! And they even deleted Bill’s posts, probably because they show that the people running the site don’t know anything about recall law! Now Bill isn’t even pretending to be helpful any longer:

  • Bill Schmalfeldt “Is there a way to find signatures without zip codes?” – Yes, go to the GAB web site and start looking. You could ask me, I have a searchable one, as you can see from the comment just above this one.

Even so, I post another polite and factual response:

  • Ronald Kossik Bill, Of course you have the right publish any subset of legally submitted signatures that you choose. The point is, if you don’t include signatures because of missing or incorrect zip codes, your database excludes thousands of valid signatures.

That was too factual, too much truth for them to handle! In response, all of my comments were removed, and comments in responding to my comments were removed. (If you look at my last page capture, there are still posts referring to my comments, even though they don’t make much sense by themselves.)

While all this is going on, in another post, Bill uses incorrect information to aggressively berate someone else with concerns about their database:

  • Bill Schmalfeldt And another thing, if you think the data is bad, LOOK AT THE PETITIONS! Spelling errors, people don’t know their own zip code, people can’t even spell their own name in some. The fault of bad data isn’t entirely the database, the source is crap. Tell people signing recall petitions to sign legibly, AS REQUIRED BY LAW.

In spite of Bill’s hostile response, I posted another polite correction:

  • Ronald Kossik Bill, you are wrong; the law does not require an elector to sign or print their name legibly. (Even though you said it in all caps, it doesn’t make it true!) Only a signature is required, and a signature can be ANY MARK, including an “X”. The signature is still valid.

My comment was deleted along with all my other comments, but they left up Bill’s incorrect post to continue to spread bad information to the public! Signatures do NOT have to be legible; that’s a lie, and they know it, but they don’t care.

In response to the polite, factual comments I have quoted above, Put Wisconsin First has removed those comments and blocked me from making additional corrections to their disinformation. The last thing Put Wisconsin First wants is someone posting things like Wisconsin state statutes that explain the truth about the recall process. Put Wisconsin First will continue to spread their lies without tolerating any opportunity for the truth to interfere with the propaganda against the recall.

Below are a series of screen shots taken from Put Wisconsin First‘s Facebook page:

41 thoughts on “WARNING: Put Wisconsin First, a pro-Walker recall petition site and facebook page, does not tolerate facts

  1. Pray for:
    WHOIS search results for:PUTWISCONSINFIRST.COM(Registered)
    Is this your
    domain? GO
    Add hosting, email and more.
    Want to buy
    this domain? GO
    Get it with our Domain Buy service.
    Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
    Updated Date: 2012-06-01 14:48:45
    Creation Date: 2012-02-06 21:17:59
    Registrar Expiration Date: 2015-10-10 06:59:59
    Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
    Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
    Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
    Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
    Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
    Registrant Name: Registration Private
    Registrant Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC
    Registrant Street: DomainsByProxy.com
    Registrant Street: 14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
    Registrant City: Scottsdale
    Registrant State/Province: Arizona
    Registrant Postal Code: 85260
    Registrant Country: United States
    Admin Name: Registration Private
    Admin Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC
    Admin Street: DomainsByProxy.com
    Admin Street: 14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
    Admin City: Scottsdale
    Admin State/Province: Arizona
    Admin Postal Code: 85260
    Admin Country: United States
    Admin Phone: (480) 624-2599
    Admin Fax: (480) 624-2598
    Admin Email: PUTWISCONSINFIRST.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
    Tech Name: Registration Private
    Tech Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC
    Tech Street: DomainsByProxy.com
    Tech Street: 14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
    Tech City: Scottsdale
    Tech State/Province: Arizona
    Tech Postal Code: 85260
    Tech Country: United States
    Tech Phone: (480) 624-2599
    Tech Fax: (480) 624-2598
    Tech Email: PUTWISCONSINFIRST.COM@domainsbyproxy.com

    • The IP address of their server is and is based in Scottsdale, AZ.
      It is public information, and since they seem to believe heavily in public information being reposted on publicly accessible websites they will enjoy it being posted here.

  2. We strongly suggest you capture the IP address of the 2 individuals that you approved the comments of who are soliciting illegal activity. When this post is approved or deleted we will consider it read and that you acknowledged this suggestion. You are on notice that if any attacks are detected Bluecheddar will be the first place implicated in the activities and targeted for investigation. It would be best if you could forward any such investigators on to the original solicitors of crimes, though we do not feel this absolves you of any wrongdoing should such an incident occur seeing as someone with access clearly approves the content posted.

    • When will you folks grow up. Someone left a comment on a blog you don’t like. Deal with it like a big boy and stop with the intimidation – see we have this thing called the first amendment – I recommend you read it, there is some pretty good stuff in there.

    • I’ll be talking to an attorney about this. In the meantime, you might like to become aware of the following: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act “CDA 230 also offers its legal shield to bloggers who act as intermediaries by hosting comments on their blogs. Under the law, bloggers are not liable for comments left by readers, the work of guest bloggers, tips sent via email, or information received through RSS feeds. This legal protection can still hold even if a blogger is aware of the objectionable content or makes editorial judgments.” https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230

      • At no time did we indicate it was illegal for you to leave solicitations of a crime. But you have been requested to log the sources in case of such illegal activities. You clearly have read the request and if an investigation issues we will send the FBI directly to you and include documentation that we requested you keep track of such poster’s information and that you have read and replied to such requests. If you take the action to log is completely up to you.

        You all misunderstand, we have never suggested you can’t control the content on your pages. You make decisions and own what you publish. You even have the right to DELETE info that goes outside the area of the pages purposes, like we did that caused this ridiculous complaint blog post in the first place. You are well within your rights to post anything you like (or delete anything you like). Our opinions may differ but at no time have we suggested you censor these posts if you don’t want to.

        We understand you want to all pretend we are somehow unreasonable but if you would read what we posted you would clearly see we have never asked for censorship. If someone makes a threat we are happy for everyone to see it, record it and face any potential penalties should an action occur through the solicitation.

      • The “CDA 230” may give you a feeling that you are immune to FBI probes but it simply isn’t true especially if you acknowledge the content and make specific judgments to leave TWO solicitations of FEDERAL crimes.

        As we say: your web site, your decisions. You have every right to post what you want, or leave what you want. But any lawyer will tell you the FBI will not be stopped by your interpretation of ‘CDA 230’ if they want answers to who posted the solicitations. And as we said in our original posts: if you are involved in the solicitations “you and everyone else involved in such activities or solicitations of a crime, including BlueCheddar, could be facing 5 years in prison”. We assume you are not making such solicitations but if you are you would be implicated.

        We acknowledge any criminal activity generated by such feeble threats posted here is very, very, low so even we think your exposure is low.

        Your page, your rules, your content, your decisions. We would never write some blog post if you keep, or delete, anything you want in a place you control. Do your thing!

      • Great – so I guess that means if I put in a request to get my information removed from your site, that works too, right? Because freedom and democracy?

        PutWisconsinFirst is a private website. You can’t keep my address and signature on there if I request it be taken down – that’s not censorship, that is you acknowledging that your site is not a government website. What do you say?

      • We most certainly can, and will, keep your recaller information online. What don’t you all get about the concept of “public information”. The Democrat, Union, Recallers mad these lists and willingly turned them over to become a public record. In fact they had a huge party over the process. Public is PUBLIC. Period. End of story.

  3. Is there any way we as a group can contact the hacktivist group Anonymous and they might be able to mess with the database? It seems like the kind of thing they might get involved with…if one could alert them to this problem.

  4. It’s late March 2013 and our petition signatures are still listed on the internet. It is clearly a malicious and slanderous attempt to bully/punish people for exercising their American right to sign a petition. It’s not only the security issues people have mentioned that pose a problem, but for people who are applying for jobs, to have their names associated with sex offender violations and other crimes could deter them from being hired. Is anyone else pursuing a lawsuit against these folks?

  5. Say, I am not a hacker, but if I was, I would definitely mess with this site. Any anonymous culture jammers out there with skills? I would pay good money to see these guys messed with.

    • Techie, Thanks, Good tip. I didn’t know about this.

      Be aware that this only affects Google searches; it doesn’t affect other search engines, such as Yahoo or Bing, and it does NOT remove your name or signature from the Put Wisconsin First website. (Or from the GAB website for that matter.)

  6. I am helping my mother sell her home. I Googled her address and the results produced a link to her signature on this petition via a Put Wisconsin First site. Her signature was able to be magnified and appears clear as a bell — ready to forge and steal her identity. After then finding your website and blog on the subject, I emailed Gov. Walker and staff to ask the status of removing the signatures. Has anyone contacted other parties who can do anything about it? Advice? Thanks.

  7. Is there no proven method to remove our home address from this? If you search me on google, my address pops up, which is actually really terrifying.

    • Unfortunately, there’s probably nothing you can do. It’s not illegal to post a name and address taken from a public record. For that matter, posting anything or everything from a public record is probably legal.

      • I’m really hesitant now to sign anything in the future. At least I learned my lesson this time. Thanks for the reply!

      • Don’t say that! That’s the lesson they want you to learn. “Bill” and his friends are trying to scare people like you away from participating in democracy. Don’t let them intimidate you.

    • Hi Beth,
      I share your terror. I’ve reported this to the FBI and suggest you do so too. The FBI has a special branch that investigates Internet crime. I have not yet received a response from the FBI. Put Wisconsin First is a private, as opposed to a public, government website, and as such I think they should not be allowed to publish anyone’s signature without the signature owner’s express permission. By signing the petition, you do not give up ownership of your signature. Your signature is yours to use as you see fit; your signature is never anyone elses to use as they see fit, unless you authorize its use or publication. Put Wisconsin First is a Ku Klux Klan-like bunch of revenge-seeking, pompous, arrogant, ignorant cowards, hiding behind anonymity. Shame on them! Citizens should be able to sign a lawful petition without fear of reprisal, without being punished. I immediately let the governor’s office know of my concerns: I sent several emails, snail mail and telephoned, too. I asked Walker and his people to call off their dogs. No dice. Knowing about this, as the governor does, and refusing to take a moral stand against TARGETING part of the populace for punishment, makes the governor fully complicit. Targeting of individuals for negative treatment, with the government abetting the bad conduct (in this case through silence) happened in Nazi Germany. We are going down a very bad path. Keep pressing; do not give up. Contact the FBI–all of you do that–for your sake and for the sake of the rest of us, too. Yes, the publishing of our petitions and signatures has a very chilling effect on an unfettered practice of democratic rights going forward! Speak up!

  8. Can we get an online database of all the people who signed Walker’s crybaby petition last week? You know… the one where he was whining about “activist judges” who actually enforce the U.S. Constitution?

    • That petition is controlled by the Scott Walker campaign, so I suspect they will only release selected information, such as the total number of signers. (I expect that Fox News will report that the petition has millions of signatures.)

      On the other hand, if they submit the petition to the court or any governmental body, whatever they submit becomes public record.

  9. The recall is over. They need to remove this information from the internet. There is no valid reason to have this information online. Maybe to be fair, we should have all Walker supporters signatures, addresses, etc. posted online as well.

      • audrey,
        As I said in my article, these web sites are run by pro-Walker tea party groups. Only the owner of the web site can remove your information, and they probably won’t.

        You can vote however you want, but voting Republican because of this makes no sense at all.

  10. Here is a copy of a letter I sent today, 8/21/12, to Governor Walker, the WI State Senate and House Rep; the WI US Senator and the President of the United States:

    “Governor Walker:

    This letter is in reference to: “Put Wisconsin First” website.

    Around one million of us used peaceful, legal ways to recall you because we disagreed with you. As a childish “payback”, like kicking sand in the faces of those who disagreed with you, we have now been put in danger in our daily lives.

    I speak NOT of convicted felons here. I DO speak of situations like the following: displaying signatures large enough that they may be copied. In turn, this could cause identity theft. Unsuspecting victims of yours might have their pictures stolen right from sites like Facebook to use with those signatures.

    Example: since some of the “dirt” on people includes probate, etc., it would be very easy to get the rest of their data, get some fake I.D.s, walk into that person’s bank and withdraw funds.

    This aforementioned example is not my direct scenario (think I came up “clean” on this character assassination attempt) , but our own bank took what has been done to us seriously enough, that now, every time we withdraw, we must utter verbal passwords.

    This site’s perpetrators—your cronies and supporters–have gone so far as to link a recall signature with court declarations of mental illness AND, almost worse, linked people to being found innocent of a crime.

    It’s phenomenally destructive–from weed control problems to mental illness. Sir, such repercussions against your citizens should be beneath you.

    After the shock of discovering this website, it should come as no surprise that those who chose a legal recall effort may well now switched mental gears and suspect that yes, they did the right thing, if not on sociopolitical grounds, then for moral ones.

    I am neither Democrat or Republican. I think for myself when I’m not fed up enough with politics to just turn a deaf ear. I chose to sign the recall due to issues surrounding so-called “entitlements.”

    I also know for a fact: I would never have done to you what you have, by proxy, done to me in return.

    Every day now, I know that if an internet search is done on my name, via Google for example, I will come up loud and clear (due to their truncated sentence/phrase format) as being associated with….drumroll please….Wisconsin Sex Offenders.

    Sorry, but I thought you were a bigger man than this. May not agree with your policies. May not agree and be heartily sick of Republicans always trying to put “god” into the equation, since I am an Atheist/Naturalist, but I DO know, I have a better moral compass than this.

    Need I say: if you publish this, I would deeply appreciate it if you did NOT print my phone number. I am a disabled older adult (albeit one who never took doctors up on their recommendation that I apply for disability back in 2007) who is no longer able to protect herself very easily from crime.


  11. I don’t object to my signature being shown. What I do object to is that it is linked to ccap, sex offenders, tax evaders, etc. It is as if signing a recall petition is a crime. Anyone looking for a job or housing could be discriminated against because they signed. Is there no legal way to shut this sight down?

  12. Great comments, Bernie! I easily found my and my husband’s signatures but I guess they were legible, lol.

  13. Nothing racist about this FB post by PWF:

    Put Wisconsin First
    Today’s Quote: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Give a man a welfare check, a free cell phone with free monthly minutes, food stamps, section 8 housing, a forty ounce malt liquor, a crack pipe and some Air Jordan’s and he votes Democrat for a lifetime.
    Share · Tuesday at 6:36am

  14. I saw a lot of perfectly readable signatures put in the wrong zip codes. They include the image yet, they don’t actually look at it. For example, several people from menasha are listed as being in neenah because OTHER signatures on the same signature page were from neenah (zip 54956). It is obvious they were being extremely lazy in how they entered the data.

    • Thanks, Donna, for the note. As somebody who used to ensure the accuracy and integrity of a lot of data, the whole thing disturbs me quite a bit. It rather boggles my mind that the right wing thinks that their volunteer scanning of these recall signatures should suffice as a check on them. If that comes to pass, I simply don’t know what I would do. I hope we don’t go there.

  15. I have the distinction of having my email exchange with them posted under their “hatemail” link.
    I had pointed out to them that in Collins 54207 for example that 14 of the 26 names listed there were in fact from other towns – mostly Milwaukee.
    AND that on the forms themselves the zips were perfectly legible.

    I also noted that I was missing from Valders and several other family members did not show up in their towns. Not only that the chair of the Manitowoc Co. Dem party who took my signature, Kerry Trask was missing from 54220.

    In the email exchange the admitted that there were “PLENTY” of signatures to validate the recall.

    This web site has more to do with creating the impression that it does not as well as personal intimidation.
    Notice the comment on the bottom of the search results page”

    “If you are unhappy you are listed in this tool the best thing to do would have been not to sign a public document.”

    It should be noted that they have now put a rather interesting disclaimer you must read in order to access the database. Its worth a read as it confirms Ron’s assertion about zips…

    Bernie Starzewski
    Valders Wi.

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