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Impossibility Is No Defense To The Crime Of Conspiring To Commit Election Bribery, Says WI Court Of Appeals

 

"Wisconsin's citizens demand and deserve fair elections," says Van Hollen.  "We will aggressively enforce our state's election laws against those who try to buy the votes needed to gain political office."

 

MADISON - In a decision quickly praised by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held today that Garrett L. Huff was properly convicted of conspiring to commit election bribery in a City of Milwaukee aldermanic re-call election, even though the persons with whom he was found to have conspired were undercover law enforcement officers ineligible to vote in the election involved.

 

"Wisconsin's citizens demand and deserve fair elections," said Van Hollen.  "We will aggressively enforce our state's election laws against those who try to buy the votes needed to gain political office."

 

The criminal charges in this case arose out of a recall election in Milwaukee's Sixth Aldermanic District held in April of 2007.  Undercover officers from the Milwaukee Police Department and a Special Agent from the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation attended pre-election parties on behalf of candidate Michael McGee, Jr., that offered free food and drink to persons who showed a sticker indicating that they had voted.  Huff provided two of the agents with transportation to Milwaukee City Hall and paid them money after they showed him their "I voted" stickers.  The law enforcement officers did not live in the aldermanic district and could not have legally voted.

 

Huff was convicted of conspiracy to commit election bribery.  He challenged his conviction on appeal, arguing in pertinent part that the law enforcement officers were not bona-fide electors because they could not lawfully vote in the Sixth Aldermanic District.  Adopting analysis provided by attorneys from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the court of appeals concluded that a person may be convicted of conspiring to commit a crime, even when other members of the conspiracy have no intention of completing the crime.  The crime of conspiracy focuses primarily on the intent of the defendant, and is complete once a conspirator, having formed the requisite intent, takes any step toward the commission of the intended crime.

Today's decision and opinion of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in State of Wisconsin v. Garrett L. Huff appears on the court's website:


http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=36384

 

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office represented the State of Wisconsin in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.  Assistant Attorney General Thomas J. Balistreri represented the State in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.