Marilyn Roberts could hardly believe it. She received a robo-call from a tea party group on May 16, asking her if a governor who balanced the budget should be recalled from office.
The recorded message then asked her if she would volunteer to help Gov. Scott Walker win reelection in the upcoming June 5 recall election.
The thing is, Roberts doesn't live in Wisconsin. She lives more than 80 miles from the state line in Waterloo, Iowa.
"Usually you don't hear about elections in other states," Roberts says. "I've heard a lot about this one." Gov. Walker has frequently complained about out-of-state influence in the campaign to recall him. On the Milwaukee TV show Up Front With Mike Gousha on April 29, he said: "The big question mark for me is whether or not we're going to be overwhelmed by an onslaught of out-of-state money."
According to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, more than half of the money Walker raised between January 2011 and April 2012 came from out of state. The robo-call to Roberts suggests he's hoping for more than out-of-state cash.
There are so many tea party groups that it's difficult to trace who's responsible for the call to Roberts. David Fladeboe, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, which supports tea party efforts, says his organization is not involved.
Both sides in the fight have certainly gotten outside help in this campaign, and both have complained about their opponents being propped up by outsiders. Katherine Cramer Walsh, an associate professor of political science at UW-Madison, says, "The entire country is watching this race, so it's not surprising that there'd be volunteers and donations from out of state."
What kind of effect it's having, she couldn't say. "There are no precedents here, so it's hard to compare it and say it's uncalled for or illegitimate."