GLENDALE -- A Milwaukee prosecutor believes there is probable cause that a union activist from Florida voted illegally in Wisconsin's hotly-contested Supreme Court election. The details are part of a search warrant filed in Milwaukee County court this week, and that search warrant says the union worker may have tried to exploit the state's 10-day residency rule.
At the height of political protests in Madison last winter, union activists from all over the country were taking up temporary residence in Wisconsin, including members of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU. An affidavit filed in Milwaukee County court indicates as many as 50 SEIU employees may have stayed at the Residence Inn in Glendale between late 2010 and April of 2011. Among them was 55-year-old Clarence Haynes, who gave the hotel a home address in Clearwater, Florida.
FOX6 Investigators uncovered public records that show Haynes has lived in Georgia and Florida for the past 15 years, but on April 5th, he registered to vote in Wisconsin using the hotel's address, and certifying that he had lived in the state for at least 10 days and had no present intent to move.
Chris Kliesmet of Citizens for Responsible Government says the 10-day residency law is ripe for abuse because it requires a prosecutor to prove a person's mindset and intent. That's why prosecutors requested six months worth of Haynes' personal emails from Google in search of evidence that he had no intent to stay in Wisconsin. In justifying his request for email records, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf writes that he believes there is probably cause Haynes voted "without proper qualifications." However, Landgraf acknowledged off-camera that the burden of proving intent to move is a tough one. Landgraf said a decision on whether to file charges could still be weeks away.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm declined to comment on the case, and FOX6 did not receive return calls from SEIU International or the SEIU's state office in Milwaukee, where an employee promised to pass the message along to their president. FOX6 even sent a FOX News crew in Tampa to the Clearwater, Florida apartment that Haynes listed as his home address in hotel records, but there was no one home. When FOX6 called Haynes' cell phone, we got voicemail.
The investigation into Haynes remains open.