Wisconsin GOP waits to see on candidate bribery charges

Wisconsin Republicans are waiting to see if former Senate candidate Terrence Wall (R) can produce evidence to support his allegation that rival Ron Johnson (R) used bribery and coercion to win the party's endorsement at the state convention last month.

"The allegations are troubling," said businessman Dave Westlake (R), Johnson's remaining rival for the nomination to face Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.).

"If Terrence comes out with actual data and actual incriminating evidence, then we have a serious issue as Republicans in Wisconsin that we need to root out, and I will be more than happy to take the lead on that," he said. "Corruption has no place in politics whatsoever."

Wall told a reporter from WTDY's "Sly in the Morning" last Friday the convention "was corrupted."

Wall said supporters came to him to say their hotels rooms were paid for because they voted for Johnson, while another man said he took votes for Wall and "[put] them in his pocket so they weren’t counted."

Johnson, a wealthy businessman, was the surprise winner of the endorsement at the May GOP convention in Milwaukee. He took 64 percent of the vote.

"I've got over 100 stories like that of corruption, bribery, you know, coercion," said Wall, who dropped out of the race shortly after the convention.

A spokeswoman for Johnson dismissed the allegations as "sour grapes."

"There is no evidence associated with Mr. Wall's claims," Kristin Ruesch, a spokeswoman for Johnson, said in an e-mail to The Ballot Box.

Wall told the website wispolitics.com that he wouldn’t reveal the names of those who brought the accusations to him.

"I promised these people, they called and they asked me, 'Is this just between us?' And I’m like, 'Yes, I want to be able to use the story and the example, but I won't use your name.' Just like any reporter. I promised them confidentiality so they'll tell me the truth about what went on," said Wall, who writes a column for a business magazine.

Westlake said he didn't see the activities that Wall referenced in the interview.

"I didn’t see such things, but I wasn't looking for them," he said. "I don’t know if they happened. I don't really have any vested interest in terms of how we run our campaign in trying to do some investigation on what happened at our convention."

Westlake said the convention may be an issue in the primary, if Wall's allegations are substantiated.

"If these things come to light and they are true, I think that will be very telling about that campaign and his candidacy and that would certainly be an issue in the primary if there is corruption in how he’s running things," he said. "The major word there is 'if.' "

In the meantime, jobs and the economy, illegal immigration and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be the "big three issues" in the campaign.

Westlake said he has gotten pressure to drop out of the race so that Johnson can cruise through the September primary.

"People from within the party asked me a couple times what my plans are," he said. "They're a little less willing to go along with me, but there's not been an all-out push to have Dave Westlake drop out of the race, because they know that I'm not going to."

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