MADISON, Wis. — Recently released public records reveal that Supreme Court Justice David Prosser owes a politically connected law firm over $220,000 in legal bills, but has not paid a dime towards that bill in over a year. The firm in question has had attorneys appear before the court in the time since Prosser racked up his debt.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “Why doesn’t Justice Prosser have to pay his legal bills? That a sitting justice doesn’t appear to be currently paying his legal bills to a law firm which has had business before him is jaw-dropping.”
According to campaign finance reports, Prosser racked up in excess of $220,000 in legal bills with the law firm of Reinhardt, Boerner & Van Buren for services related to the recount of his controversial re-election bid to the court in 2011. The last record of any payment from Prosser’s campaign account to retire the debt was in June of 2011. Over the same time, according to campaign finance records, Prosser’s campaign paid over $36,000 to other consultants and vendors.
Attorneys for the law firm have appeared before the court since the legal work was done and Justice Prosser has sat on and ruled in at least one case involving the firm, — a 2011 case in which he voted to overturn a lower court ruling and benefit a Reinhardt client to the tune of over $8.5 million.
This is not the first time a conservative justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has faced scrutiny over this type of issue. Fellow conservative Justice Michael Gableman cast decisive votes in favor of clients of a law firm that had provided him with tens of thousands of dollars in free legal services. Prosser voted to let Gableman decide cases concerning the firm despite his fee arrangement.
In addition, Prosser recently renamed his campaign committee the “Prosser Defense Fund” and tapped connected former top aide to then Gov. Tommy Thompson, James Klauser, as his campaign treasurer. He has publicized his intention to raise money to pay for legal bills associated with an inquiry into an incident in which he allegedly choked a fellow justice in a fit of rage.
“Justice Prosser’s shocking lack of judicial decorum and cheap play for campaign cash should alarm every Wisconsinite,” concluded Ross.