MILWAUKEE — Former Republican Governor Scott McCallum was unable to name another instance in which he ignored the recommendations for a judicial nominee as he when appointing Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Mike Gableman to the Burnett County bench. Gableman, a Republican Party official, donated $2,500 and hosted a fundraiser for McCallum’s campaign, while the two District Attorneys recommended to McCallum donated nothing.
“The more we find out, the less Mike Gableman’s appointment passes the smell test,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Governor McCallum picked Mike Gableman to be a judge in a county 300 miles from his home after he donated $2,500 over two local prosecutors who didn’t give the Governor a dime.”
An investigation by One Wisconsin Now and subsequent news reports have revealed the following about Gableman’s August 2002 appointment to the Burnett County Circuit Court, the position he holds today:
Gableman did not go through the process for selecting judges established by McCallum through two Executive Orders issued earlier in his term. [McCallum Executive Order 6, 4/27/01, page 2; McCallum Executive Order 19, 7/20/01]
Gableman had not applied for the judgeship by the deadline established by the Governor’s Notice of Judicial vacancy of May 22, 2002. [Notice of Burnett County Vacancy, 5/02]
Gableman was not one of the two finalists selected by Governor’s Advisory Council on Judicial Selection. [McCallum Advisory Council on Judiciary Selection, 6/7/02]
Gableman served as a Republican fundraiser for Governor McCallum in the midst of the judicial selection process. Gableman was on the host committee at a McCallum fundraiser on June 12, 2002 and sat with and introduced the Governor. [Northwoods Regional Governor’s Club Event Memo, 6/12/02]
Gableman donated $2,500 to Governor McCallum’s campaign. [Gableman Contributions to McCallum, 12/31/01 & 6/18/02]
Gableman, the Ashland County Republican Party Chair, arranged and attended a private breakfast with Governor McCallum and several other Republican Party officials at the Executive Residence in late March 2002. [Governor’s Residence Event Fax, 3/26/02]
No records of Gableman being interviewed by Governor McCallum for the position could be found. [Gableman Fax to McCallum, 7/26/02]
McCallum admitted Thursday he manipulated the judicial appointment process he established, saying in a Gableman press release, “[A]s governor, the final decision to appoint a judge was mine alone…..” [Gableman Press Release 2/22/08]
On June 7, 2002, the Advisory Council forwarded to the Governor the names of two local district attorneys, Ken Kutz of Burnett County and Mark Biller of Polk County, to the Governor. According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, unlike Gableman, neither Kutz nor Biller donated to McCallum.
When a WKOW-TV reporter Friday asked McCallum “whether there were any other occasions when he ignored the selection committee and filled a judicial vacancy independent of the process, he did not cite any.”
Documents obtained by One Wisconsin Now included in this release are available at: http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/page/content/suspiciousappointment.