You may recall we had a rather historic election here in Wisconsin on June the 5th of this year. One of the many stories to emerge from that day is one of a criminal investigation into events that transpired in Racine County at four of the polling places there. You may have heard some mention of this case, though like myself you probably heard just a quick five second blurb or read a one paragraph story about it.
The investigation is directed at one Willard Rooks Helander a woman from Lake County Illinois who travelled to Wisconsin to take part in the recall election of Scott Walker and five other GOTea radicals in the state legislature.
Why would a resident of the state of Illinois travel to Wisconsin to observe the election? There are many possible answers, many folks travelled to Wisconsin to observe the latest in a short and very questionable series of quite possibly fraudulent campaigns, but they were here to observe and report. Mrs Hell Lander oops excuse me Helander was not here to observe though, she was here to take an active role in another states election. It is an interesting story and one that leaves you with at least as many questions as answers but I will try to do my best to explain this to you. First though some background information.
Willard Rooks Helander is the GOP/Tea Party Clerk of Courts for Lake County Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and a very red part of that state. She is a strong mid-level contender in the neo-conservative movement to allow corporate control of the American government. Incidentally she is also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution which is a right wing extremist organization that is mainly built around the concept of 'American Royalty' for lack of a better term. The group at its core is comprised of wealthy Caucasian women with some claim to heritage stemming from the American Revolutionary War period. The group seeks to hold themselves above average Americans as they view themselves to be some kind of true and original ( or in other words the only 'real') Americans, an aristocracy.
The groups web site does say that they are inclusive and welcome all women regardless of race or income but based on the groups history and politics, I don't buy a single word of it. If you go to the website of The Order of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan you will see the same words on the page, I don't believe them any more than the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Nazi Party.
And like all members of the GOTea she has a very strong interest in the ability of minorities to vote. She is also strongly interested in how Democrats vote and the people who vote for that party. In other words she is another tool in the machine it would seem of contemporary right wing voter suppression. During her campaign for County Clerk there are photo's of her sitting at her information table where she is actively campaigning and promoting herself for elected office and at the same table she has signs and forms for people to register to vote. Now that is very convenient to get your campaign information and meet the candidate while being able to simultaneously register to vote. One big problem though, in Illinois as in Wisconsin and almost all other states it is ILLEGAL to campaign as a candidate and be a non-partisan voter registration officer! And this is the woman running for the office of County Clerk which is the office that oversees local elections.
Well maybe now that she is in office she has learned what the laws are and is enforcing them properly some might say. She has staged huge raids on Democrat and Independent candidates campaigns to intimidate and harass them even though those campaigns have never tried to follow her example by breaking the laws regarding campaigning and voter registration. She has never once, not even once ever looked into a Republican campaign even when her office has received multiple complaints about serious violations, that should tell you something right there. In some ways she reminds me of Kathy Nicklaus who holds a similar position in Wisconsin and has messed up multiple elections but that seems to be a combination of being a tool of the corporate powers as much as outright incompetence.
Willard on the other hand seems more capable and intelligent than her Wisconsin counterpart so it would be unfair of me to name her the "Kathy Nicklaus of the flatlands" She was a defendant in a major trial in Illinois a few years back because she and others on the far right were introducing and accepting individuals on the GOP ticket who were not even legally illegible to run for office. The more you look into her the more dreadful it gets. Also not very long ago she was the defendant in a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for other attempts at illegal voter suppression. I wont go into all the details here but if you would like please google search Zessar vs. Helander on the net.
In April of this year she oversaw a NSSD election in Lake County and created quite a uproar over her actions in that particular election. It seems that the election results were mangled and basically legally unusable because HER OFFICE specifically used a out of date district map. She tried to claim that this was a communication issue between her office and another state agency but once again I'm not buying it. They are preparing for an election in Illinois, her office has the new districting maps on hand and the office she is in charge of, the office she is supposed to provide total oversight for, intentionally requests a old and illegal to use district map and places it into action?!?!? She seems to have intentionally and of her own accord re-districted her area and redrew the boundaries for five different precincts and caused massive errors in four others. Now candidates are screaming bloody murder and it looks as if she will be in court as a defendant yet again. Also it appears likely that another resource and time consuming election will have to be held.
Something very disturbing that I found is that she has a web page that she paid to have designed and maintained called LakeVoterPower.info This page is supposed to be an informative site for people looking to register to vote online. As a matter of fact the page lets you fill out a "virtual" voter registration form online and then when you are finished you hit the 'submit' button. You are then taken to the official government page of the Lake County Clerks office which tells you that your information is submitted. It makes it seem as if you registered to vote when you didn't. And it is angering and confusing many people down in Illinois and another court case against her based on that seems also imminent.
In all fairness though to tell just about her failings in matters of voting and elections doesn't paint a complete picture of her. There is also the matter of a same sex couple that had traveled to Illinois to register under the states domestic partnership laws. She refused them quite vehemently to grant that even though there is no legal basis for it. I am not aware of any state that has laws which say that only residents of that state can be legally joined in that state. Perhaps Willard never heard of a Vegas wedding before?
It would seem that she is willing and perhaps even eager to break the law when it comes to serving the interests of her political party but has no respect for the law whatsoever and the protection it provides to all other citizens. It could be argued that she is confused and maybe even incompetent but when you look at the pattern that repeats itself over and again of her failings always benefiting her party I once again just wont buy that line.
Which brings us to Racine County Wisconsin on June the 5th. Willard claims she took a vacation day from her County Clerk job to travel to Wisconsin to take part in the recall election of her hero Scott Walker. She spent the entire day traveling to and from polling locations there, four in total. What she did there had nothing to do with observation at all. She tried to tell poll workers what the Wisconsin laws were even though she seems very confused on her own states laws. She confronted and yelled at people who were trying to vote. She tried to actually stop people from being able to vote, even physically at one point as she tried to physically prevent one women from placing her ballot into the machine. She lied and told people they couldn't vote, they had to be pre-registered, they had to have a valid drivers license, they had to have proof of address and so on. At the Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary School she made quite a big seen and the police were called out. And due to that she is now under investigation by the State of Wisconsin Government Accountability Board and also possibly by the Racine County District Attorneys office. Apparently the state of Illinois is looking into the legality of her activities AGAIN.
This is what Willard Rooks Helander looks like, this is what the face of the GOTea looks like. Smiling and charming and duplicitous people who promise to preserve the integrity of our elections, the backbone of democracy itself and then do everything they can to alter, distort and destroy those elections.
Perhaps you can see why this Willard reminds me of the old movie "Willard" where a mean spirited, social outcast trains a army of rats to do his bidding. Sort of like Willard Helander with her staff of tea party minions.
Now just to prove that she is not totally and completely evil/incompetent she has done some good work looking into and uncovering voter fraud in Lake County. Her good friend and fellow party member Mark Kirk was running for office not too long ago. She ran to the media and claimed to have uncovered over one thousand solid examples of voter fraud. After some innuendo and foot dragging she was finally able to provide 'strong evidence' of one single case. It seems her office had received a single voter registration packet that had a false name on it. Now the packet was only partially filled out and thus had to be tossed out and the information not put into the system. The name of the person on the registration ballot was Princess Nudelman (pronounced noodle-man) and her investigation showed that Princess Nudelman was actually somebodies pet goldfish, actually an ex-pet because by this time the fish had died.
Why was a goldfish possibly being set up as a registered voter? Well the voter registration packet that Willard sent out was mailed to people on a long list of names. Was this a list of previously registered voters? Was it from some official government clearing house? No she had purchased the list at taxpayer expense from a commercial vendor who obtains the names on that list from such sources as magazine subscriptions, extended warranty forms and motor vehicle renewals. The late Princess Nudelman the goldfish was the name these people used while setting up a second Internet device in their home. Why they stuck a goldfish's name on the registration form seems to be a mystery. I would imagine beer may have been involved. Either way though Willard uncovered it and offered it to the media as proof of over a thousand hard examples of malicious voter fraud. You can imagine the fun the media had with "noodle-gate" and with Willard Helander.
And that basically brings us up to speed on the story as it sits so far. And like I wrote earlier this story raises many more questions than it answers, some of my questions are:
Why Racine County? The GOP knew this one would be very close and perhaps they thought a little voter suppression and intimidation could carry the day for them?
Who is responsible in the GOP for inviting her up here to tamper with our elections?
Was she paid or compensated in any way for what she did?
Who asked her to come to Racine for the elections? Was this the same person that told poll workers to let Willard have free run and nearly card blanche at Wisconsin polls? Is this why no poll supervisor ever reported her or even attempted to stop her?
Was she receiving tax payer funded vacation pay while she was out of state tampering with elections? I imagine there are quite a few people in Illinois looking into this as well.
So there you have it folks the strange case of Willard Rooks Helander. I imagine we will be hearing more about this soon as the story starts to unfold. All I can say is I am glad she does not represent Dane County Wisconsin where I live, life is maddening enough as it is here. I feel sorry for the good, honest folks in her district who have to deal with her and all the confusion it causes. They can take some relief knowing that Lake County Illinois has a government run "Clarity Training Course" which gives you all the official and legal answers to your voting question........oh no! The course is run by Willard Helander....Mein Gott in Himmell!
We certainly have a rat in our house but something also smells mighty fishy in Illinois, and the stench is starting to drift into Wisconsin. Solidarity forever.
On Wisconsin! FORWARD!!!!
I am not having much luck getting any answers from Willard or her office, if you would like to try please feel free to contact:
Lake County Illinois County Clerks Office
18 N County st Room 101
Waukegan, IL 60085
Thanks to the Daily Herald, the Chicago Tribune, Lake County Eye and the Root River Siren.