By Evan Casey
When campaign worker Cheryl Meeks first found out that all of the hard work she did for a statewide campaign might be thrown out for a felony she committed over 30 years ago, she was “devastated.”
Torre Johnson on the other hand wasn’t surprised. “Here they go again,” he said.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin filed a complaint last week saying that Andy Gronik, Democratic candidate for the Governor of Wisconsin, used ineligible electors to obtain signatures for his campaign.
This threatens over 1,700 signatures Gronik obtained for his nomination, including a large amount from African American communities in Milwaukee, according to the Gronik campaign.
The complaint, made by the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said in part that, “Andy Gronik collected hundreds of signatures from circulators who may not be qualified electors, including multiple who appear to be felons and one who appears to have been circulating nomination signatures while under an outstanding bench warrant.” According to state law, any felons who are still on probation or parole, are not allowed to vote or participate in elections.
In response, Gronik’s communications director Brandon Weathersby said these allegations were “blatantly and offensively racist.” Gronik held a press conference at Coffee Makes You Black Wednesday morning to respond to the complaint.
“To suggest that we were doing something wrong as a campaign, by employing someone who just wants to get back to work, someone who wants to have a real life here in the state of Wisconsin, to suggest in any way, shape, or form that someone who served their time, should not have the ability to go on with their life…is exactly the reason Scott Walker is going to go,” said Gronik at the press conference.
Two of the individuals who worked for Gronik’s campaign, and who helped obtain votes for him, were also present at the press conference. Torre Johnson, Community Liaison for Programs of Wisconsin Community Services, said he does have a felony but has since been reinstated as a voter.
“I love being challenged, because I don’t always just fight for myself, I fight for felons who are incarcerated,” said Johnson. “We are important. We are going to keep fighting…we are human beings, not just felons.”
Cheryl Meeks also works for Gronik’s campaign. She is also not on parole or supervision of any kind anymore.
“Everyone makes a mistake in their life, but it’s what they do to change in their life,” said Meeks, who voted in the last election. “Everyone deserves a second chance…we are not felons, we are overcomers. We are believers and we are successful people.”
Gronik hopes that the complaint will be thrown out. Their campaign has three days after the complaint is made to challenge it. The Wisconsin Elections Commission will consider this complaint during a June 11 meeting.
The reporter reached out to the Republican Party of Wisconsin, but did not receive a response by the time this story was published.