On Tuesday, August 9, Wisconsin will hold a recall election for the Republican State Senators who voted to rescind collective bargaining rights for teachers, firefighters and other public sector union members. As you might expect, the dark forces have been scurrying frantically in the shadows, trying to keep riled up Wisconsin voters from changing the balance of power in Madison. The same groups that ran fake Democrats in the primaries that were held to find opposition candidates, have now mailed fake absentee ballots to Wisconsin voters, with instructions to return them by August 11, two days after the election will be held.
On the surface, it appears to be the usual dirty tricks. Saying “Republicans are suppressing votes” is like saying “Lindsay Lohan gets high.” But in this chapter of that same old story is a villain whose name you should know, Julaine Appling, Director of Wisconsin Family Action, (WFA), a group dedicated to the fight against gay marriage rights. You may have run into her before, as she famously called for nine-month jail sentences and fines of $10,000 for anyone married in another state who attempted to live in Wisconsin. “I think we have been extremely tolerant to let them live wherever they choose,” said Appling, whom the Wisconsin Gazette describes as, “a never-married woman who lives with her lifelong companion, Diane Westphall, in a home they own jointly in Watertown,” adding, “The two also work side by side at WFA.”
The Gazette reports that it was Appling’s group that was responsible for many of the phony ballots, working in conjunction with Americans for Prosperity, (AFP), a right-wing group funded by the infamous Koch Brothers. The ballots even had her WFA return address. And, did I mention there was an admission? “We’re part of a coalition, and we’re doing this,” Ms. Appling announced proudly, and she stuck to that line right up until the time she was warned the ballots constituted mail fraud. At that point Appling suddenly denied any knowledge of the campaign and claimed AFP had used her group’s return address without permission.
What made me take particular notice of Julaine Appling this week was to whom she sent her phony absentee ballots. Understanding her peculiar paranoia, I suppose it will not come as a surprise to you that the target of Appling’s voter suppression scheme was the Wisconsin Gay Community. And that is why, this week, Julaine Appling is on our radar.
Jean Ann Esselink is straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.
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