MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Supreme Court, with Justice Ann Walsh Bradley abstaining, has voted to hear several appeals related to the criminal investigation of collusion between the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker and outside groups. According to news reports, one of the appellants whose case the court has voted to hear is R.J. Johnson, a paid political consultant for Gov. Walker who also directed the Club for Growth (CFG) Wisconsin, a group that spent millions to help elect Walker and several of the justices voting to hear the case.
“Justices Prosser, Roggensack, Gableman and Ziegler owe their seats in large part to massive spending on their behalf by parties that could be directly affected by cases they just voted to hear,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “It looks like this gang has the best defense money can buy, with a four justice majority they helped install sitting in judgment of the legality of their activities.”
Ross noted that in addition to the Club for Growth, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) has been identified in documents released by prosecutors investigating what they termed a “criminal scheme” to subvert laws that many legal experts believe preclude campaigns and outside groups from coordinating their activities.
According to figures compiled by the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign:
- CFG and WMC spent a combined $7.3 million in support of those four justices’ campaigns for the Supreme Court. In addition, $985,000 was spent by Citizens for a Strong America on behalf of the 2011 campaign of Justice David Prosser. A review of CFG’s 2011 Internal Revenue Service 990 form shows that CFG contributed $4.6 million to Citizens for a Strong America – the organization’s entire operating budget.
- In all four cases of these justices’ election campaigns, the percent of spending by these two entities was a substantial portion of the support these campaigns received. A Wisconsin Democracy Campaign total of the spending on behalf of Justice Prosser, including his own campaign, showed that spending of CFG, WMC and the CFG-financed Citizens for a Strong America, provided 75 percent of the $3.5 million in spending on behalf of Justice Prosser. If the public financing grant obtained by Justice Prosser is removed as “spending,” this figure leaps to a jaw-dropping 85 percent.
- A similar review of spending on behalf of Justice Michael Gableman, shows a similar and stunning lopsided percent from CFG and WMC. These two entities provided in excess of 70 percent of the $3.2 million spent on his 2008 election campaign to the court.
In April, One Wisconsin Now wrote the Supreme Court and urged the justices to recuse themselves from legal requests related to the Walker criminal investigation because of the conflicts presented by the massive infusions of campaign cash n behalf of the four justices. The full text of the letter can be viewed at http://bit.ly/OWNCrtLtr.
Ross concluded, “The cabal surrounding Gov. Walker was willing to do anything to help get him elected, and now they’re putting the integrity of the state’s high court at stake to protect themselves from being held accountable for their actions. It’s appalling that Justices Prosser, Roggensack, Gableman and Ziegler are aiding and abetting it, despite their massive conflict of interest.”