MADISON, Wis. — Dan Kelly has taken over $14,000 from members of the board of directors of a right-wing legal outfit that has argued multiple cases in front of the state Supreme Court, according to his campaign finance reports filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Since being appointed to the state Supreme Court, Dan Kelly has sided with the group, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), every time they’ve appeared before him.
“Dan Kelly isn’t just WILL’s shill on the court, siding with them in every case they’ve argued in front of him,” commented One Wisconsin Now Deputy Director Mike Browne. “He’s also the recipient of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the board of directors running the organization.”
In newly filed campaign finance reports, covering the last six months of 2019, Kelly reported snagging $10,000 from Michael White, $1,000 from Michael Grebe and $1,500 from James T. Barry. All three sit on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
Earlier in 2019, Kelly’s finance report from in July revealed that he took two $1,000 contributions from WILL board members Grebe and Barry during and immediately after he was considering a case they argued before him. Kelly sided with WILL in the controversial case and joined the opinion reversing a 2016 ruling of the state high court.
A review of court records by One Wisconsin Now found that in six cases that have come before Kelly in which WILL has represented a litigant, Kelly has ruled consistent with WILL’s client.
As a member of the Supreme Court Kelly also sided with WILL in opposing changes to the rules about when judges should not hear cases because of conflicts of interest, proposed by over 50 retired state judges.
Before taking the money from WILL board members, Kelly also served on an advisory board for the group’s legal strategy and worked as legal counsel, including overseeing grant making, for an organization that has donated millions of dollars to WILL.