Better Choice: Keep It Truthful

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Burnett County Judge Mike Gableman has received unwanted publicity over his supicious appointment by then Gov. Scott McCallum. Gableman, a McCallum donor and fundraiser, miraculously leapt over two announced finalists picked by McCallum’s own screening committee and was given the job — located 300 miles from where he was living at the time.

Gableman has a couple different answers for how he got the job, which we’ve talked about at length. responded in a couple different ways, which we’ve talked about here

Today comes a new missive from Gableman’s camp: an e-mail sent out with the following “facts.” As a public service OWN has fact checked the claims and asked additional questions that others may have.

QUOTE: “Fact: Wisconsin’s Constitution gives the governor and the governor alone the right to appoint judges – not a panel.”

REALITY: No one disputes the Constitution. But McCallum himself set up a screening process for judicial positions through two official executive orders. Gableman came out of nowhere and was chosen after two other finalists were publicly named. There is no record anywhere that shows Gableman applied, interviewed for, was vetted for or had a background check by anyone in the McCallum administration.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: How did Gableman vault to the top of list for a judgeship 300 miles away from where he was living? Was it McCallum’s familiarity with Gableman as a $2,500 donor, fundraiser or Republican Party official? Why can the applications for the six applicants for the judgeship be found, but no record of Gableman applying for, interviewing for or submitting documents and recommendation letters?

QUOTE: “Fact: Governor McCallum chose Judge Gableman to fill the Burnett County vacancy because he was a successful prosecutor and the governor wanted a ‘traditionalist’ judge who respected the law and who would not legislate from the bench.

REALITY: Gableman had seven jobs in nine years. After he left Marathon County abruptly, an article quoted someone from the office as saying Gableman was “shocked” by workload.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: What particular prosecution was McCallum aware of which would show that Gableman was a successful prosecutor? Why did McCallum feel this, unlike the other seven jobs Gableman had in nine years, was going to be successful? What documents are available showing Gableman’s “traditionalist” credentials. Or was this something McCallum learned when Gableman hosted a fundraiser for him during the time the selection process was ongoing?

QUOTE: “Fact: Judge Gableman was elected with 78% of the vote just a few months after his appointment. He defeated one of the panel’s recommendations.”

REALITY: Electability for the Burnett County judgeship or any other politics is irrelevant and is no “qualification” for appointment.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Is this an admission that McCallum’s decision was based on politics, such as the political facts that Gableman was a McCallum donor, fundraiser and Republican Party official?

When it comes to judicial ethics, Wisconsin is already left with a cloud on the court with the Annette Ziegler conflicts of interest. Members of the Supreme Court must have the highest ethics and qualifications and Wisconsin deserves nothing less.

Keep posted to see if these questions are answered once and for all.

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Scot Ross served as Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute from 2007 to 2019.