U.S. Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), left, and Republican presidential candidate… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)
Reporting from Washington — The going rate for a vote in Wisconsin, if you believe the state’s Democratic Party, is as low as a submarine sandwich. After Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul D. Ryan joined together to serve up free sandwiches at Cousins Subs in Waukesha, the Democratic Party sent out a press release contending that by serving up the free food, the campaign had violated Wisconsin law.
Under the category of “Election bribery” in the state’s law books, any individual who “offers, gives, lends or promises to give or lend, or endeavors to procure, anything of value,” with the purpose of either encouraging or discouraging voters from either going to the polls or voting, has gone against the law. That is, so long as the value of the item exceeds $1 and “has utility independent of any political message it contains.”
The subs at Cousins? Their prices range from $4.49 to $5.59, and it isn’t a grand leap to assume that they have utility as food beyond their worth as a marketing vehicle for Romney.
“So bring your friends to the polls, get out and vote and if you want another sandwich, there are more back there,” Romney said to possible voters in attendance.
The Democratic Party has formally filed a complaint with Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, which will decide whether anything comes of the filing. And as it turns out, in Wisconsin violating electoral bribery laws is a Class I felony.
The only problem with Democrats' contention? There was no explicit exchange of a promise to vote for the sandwiches, nor was there any requirement from Romney’s campaign for individuals to prove that they had already voted in his favor. It seems there’s a bit of a mix-up between bribery and standard campaign practice, and it’s highly unlikely that anything will come of the complaint, which really is a shame for whomever owns the www.subgate.com domain.