MADISON, Wis. — The judicial ethics of Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick are under fire after breaking his own clean campaign pledge by attacking Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson in a television advertisement with several dubious claims.
“It’s telling about his ethics that Randy Koschnick has broken his own clean campaign pledge,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “His advertising is full of already-discredited distortions and falsehoods.”
Koschnick has enlisted the media firm which produced the notorious racist ad then-Burnett County Judge Mike Gableman used against Louis Butler in 2008. According to Koschnick’s latest finance report, he made two payments to the Strategy Group for Media of $5,000 for “Media-TV Ad Consult./Creation.” The Group lists Gableman as its client on its website, and Gableman paid Strategy Group’s media-buying partner $156,000, including a $10,000 “bonus,” according to Gableman’s finance report. Gableman currently is under investigation for his ad’s false statements.
In his ad, Koschnick breaks his own clean campaign pledge with three distinct distortions about his own record and that of Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, including:
Donations from Lawyers: Koschnick criticizes Abrahamson’s contributions from lawyers who have a current case before the Supreme Court. But Koshnick has heard 1,830 cases involving 19 lawyers who made contributions to his prior judicial campaign, including 35 cases which are currently open. The contributions by these lawyers alone represent 13 percent of his contributions from the public raised to become the Jefferson County Circuit Judge. [Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Records]
Siding with Criminals: Koschnick claims that in the last 10 years Abrahamson sided with criminals a majority of the time. Reviewing the more than 4,400 crime and public-safety related rulings, reviews and decisions of the Supreme Court since 1999 shows Abrahamson sided against criminals more than 90 percent of the time. [Wisconsin Reports; North Western Reporter, WestLaw]
Punishing Sex Offenders: Koschnick alleges Abrahamson has a poor record on punishing sex offenders. Koschnick has sentenced felony child sex predators to an average of only five years in prison – 30 years less than the maximum penalties allowed by law – while Abrahamson wrote the decision upholding the law requiring life sentences without parole for repeat child sex predators. [Wisconsin Circuit Court Access Program and State v. Radke]
In addition, the ad uses comments critical of Abrahamson by former Supreme Court Justice William Bablitch. Koschnick criticizes Abrahamson on her Constitutional opinion on Chapter 980 sex offenders, but fails to note Bablitch agreed that Chapter 980 is unconstitutional.
“Randy Koschnick promised over and over he would run a clean campaign, touting it on his website and telling anyone who would listen,” said Ross. “Just as forcefully, he’s gone back on that word, breaking his promise to people of Wisconsin.”