MILWAUKEE — Former Republican Governor Scott McCallum admitted Thursday he manipulated the judicial appointment process established by his own executive orders in order to appoint Republican Party official Mike Gableman, a McCallum donor and fundraiser, to the Burnett County Circuit Court.
“[A]s governor, the final decision to appoint a judge was mine alone…,” McCallum said through a Gableman campaign press release. The media has reported McCallum has refused press calls since an investigation by One Wisconsin Now released Wednesday showed Gableman was appointed judge after McCallum ignored established protocol for a candidate who neither applied in time, nor was a finalist recommended by McCallum’s own judicial advisory council.
The executive orders McCallum ignored, requiring a Judicial Advisory Panel screen potential judicial nominees and forward finalists for consideration to the Governor to ensure among other issues the “appointment of competent, public-minded lawyers of the highest integrity,” can be accessed here, page 2, page 3.
“Governor McCallum confirmed what we already knew, that Mike Gableman got his job as a judge because that’s what McCallum wanted for his donor and fundraiser,” said Scot Ross, Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now. “Why are there no state documents showing that Gableman ever formally applied for the job, that he was ever interviewed for the job, or that he ever answered the extensive questions designed to indicate his qualifications and competence to have the job?”
One Wisconsin Now’s investigation focused on Gableman’s questionable appointment in light of the facts assembled by open records requests and examination of documents at the State Historical Society, showing Gableman had leapfrogged over six candidates for the position he had not applied for by the deadline after hosting a fundraiser, attending a private meeting at the Governor’s mansion with Republican Party officials and donating $2,500 to election campaign, including $1,250 in the middle of the selection process.
“Instead of the formal process he established by executive order, McCallum apparently relied on his own perception, which may have been improved by Gableman hosting two fundraisers for him and bringing a number of political supporters for a private breakfast at the residence,” said Ross. “Wisconsin must have a judiciary with the highest judicial ethics and experience and Gableman’s suspicious appointment hangs over him like a dark cloud.”