Democrats claim Romney, Ryan broke bribery laws by giving out free subs

Democrats claim Romney, Ryan broke bribery laws by giving out free subs

By Tom Murray. CREATED Apr 3, 2012 - UPDATED: Apr 3, 2012

WAUKESHA - Wisconsin Democrats claim White House hopeful Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan violated state campaign bribery laws during Tuesday's election.

Romney and Ryan passed out free, pre-made sandwiches at a Cousins Subs in Waukesha while the polls were open.

"We're going to go to the polls today," Ryan told supporters.

Romney urged supporters to vote.

"Get some friends to go with you," Romney said during his remarks.  "That's how you can legally vote multiple times, right? So bring your friends to the polling place.  Get out and vote.  If you want another sandwich, there are more back there."

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin contends Ryan and Romney broke the law by distributing free subs.  The party planned to file complaints with the Government Accountability Board and the Waukesha County district attorney's office.

"If you take something of value that's more than a dollar and use it persuade someone to vote or encourage someone to vote, then it's illegal," party chair Mike Tate said at a press conference.

Candidates are discouraged from offering food, beverage or other gift to get someone to vote or to thank them for a vote, GAB spokesperson Reid Magney said.  Magney said while the board does not have all of the facts in this case, candidates run the risk of violating campaign bribery laws.

The charging decision would be likely be up to DA Brad Schimel.

"We have not received any complaint yet," Schimel said in an email.  "I am on vacation and will deal with any formal complaint that comes in when I return.  This has no urgency to it that would require me to act on it while I am on vacation with my family."

Romney state campaign co-chair Ted Kanavas dismissed the complaint.

"I wasn't bought off by a Cousins sub in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  I think they should probably get a life," Kanavas said.

Jeff Daane, a family owner of the Cousins franchise, said the campaign paid for the food.
"Somebody wanted to come and by food from us and we were more than happy to provide that opportunity," Daane said.

Rep. Ryan's office did not respond to a request for a comment.

Violating the campaign bribery law is a low level felony and would have no impact on a candidates spot on the ballot, Magney said.