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Volunteers working on a campaign to recall Trempealeau County District Attorney Taavi McMahon have gathered enough signatures that, if verified, will trigger an election for his seat.

Taavi McMahon

Taavi McMahon

The Recall Taavi McMahon Committee collected 3,385 signatures, about 700 more than required for a recall. It turned in paperwork to the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Monday.

McMahon, who is fighting the recall effort, can challenge the signatures and said he will “look closely” at them.

He also is considering filing a complaint against at least one recall committee member he said misled people into believing that signing the recall petition supported McMahon.

“His exact words were, ‘If you sign this petition, then he gets to be on the ballot this fall,’” said LaVonne Wier of Galesville, who said she was approached by recall committee members during Trempealeau’s Catfish Days.

Recall committee organizer and Osseo Police Chief Bill Prudlick said no member used deception to gather signatures.

The elections commission will order a special election six weeks after it verifies the signatures.

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McMahon will automatically be on the recall ballot. If there are more than two candidates, the election ordered in six weeks becomes a primary election with the general election held four weeks later.

Prudlick said he organized the effort because McMahon often is unprepared for court, reluctant to listen to law enforcement and reduces charges in too many serious cases.

McMahon countered that he’s supported by police, about a dozen district attorneys and the public, who share his philosophy of reserving prison space for violent criminals and using treatment courts and diversion programs for low-risk offenders.

A Trempealeau County committee in October raised concerns about McMahon’s job performance in a letter to Gov. Scott Walker that called him “derelict in his duties.” McMahon, the committee stated, closed his office for a funeral and suspended his office manager who refused to attend.

The Trempealeau County Board in December asked the governor to suspend McMahon and investigate whether he had lied to a judge. The governor’s office found he had not.

The board also called on McMahon to resign, but he refused.

Nancy Knudtson, the former office manager, on May 15 filed a federal suit against the county and McMahon, arguing state and county officials violated her First Amendment rights and federal wage and hour laws when they disciplined her for not attending the funeral before terminating her employment.

Osseo Police Chief Bill Prudlick organized the effort because McMahon often is unprepared for court, reluctant to listen to law enforcement and reduces charges in too many serious cases. McMahon says he is supported by police, about a dozen DAs and the public, who share his philosophy of reserving prison space for violent criminals and using treatment courts and diversion programs for low-risk offenders.

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Anne Jungen can be reached at ajungen@lacrossetribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @LCTCrimeCourts.

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