January 29, 2008

No Clean Campaign Commitment from Gableman

On Tuesday Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler and Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman participated in their first debate.  It took place on a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee program called Panthertalk.  During the internet based event, a caller asked both candidates about a clean campaign pledge that they have both been asked to sign, by the Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee (WJCIC).   Justice Butler announced that he did sign the pledge, while Michael Gableman indicated that he failed to make the same commitment.

On Tuesday Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler and Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman participated in their first debate.  It took place on a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee program called Panthertalk.  During the internet based event, a caller asked both candidates about a clean campaign pledge that they have both been asked to sign, by the Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee (WJCIC).   Justice Butler announced that he did sign the pledge, while Michael Gableman indicated that he failed to make the same commitment. 

The bipartisan committee was established to both monitor the conduct of judicial campaigns and to educate the public on the difference between a judge and other kinds of elected officials.  The pledge that the committee has presented to the candidates is simply a promise to adhere to the basic concepts of the judicial code of conduct. 

Since the pledge is really just a promise to obey the judicial code of conduct regarding campaigning, why would Michael Gableman not immediately sign it?  When the issue came up during Tuesday’s debate, Judge Gableman said that he was “having talks” with the committee about taking the pledge.  Why are talks necessary? Does Judge Gableman have a problem with the Judicial Code itself? 

Entire parts of the WJCIC pledge are direct references to the Judicial Code.  It makes some of the following declarations that everyone should be able to agree with: 

“I agree to familiarize myself with, and to conduct my campaign in accordance with, all applicable state laws, including the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

“I agree that the Code of Judicial Conduct contains minimal rules relating to campaign conduct which prohibit the making or distribution of false or misleading statements.”

And it asks them to “publicly disavow advertisements that impugn the integrity of the judicial system; falsely or unfairly impugn the integrity of a candidate for the Supreme Court; or erode public trust and confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary by verbally or visually attempting to lead voters to believe that a candidate will decide issues or cases in a predetermined manner.”

Michael Gableman’s resistance to such simple standards raises a major question that he should be asked.  What does he have planned for his campaign that prevents him from agreeing to these standards? 

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