I don’t regularly follow the politics of Wisconsin extremely closely, but something just doesn’t seem right about that state. By all accounts, Scott Walker has been a below average governor, isn’t even very popular and was damn near booted out of office just a couple of years after being elected. Yet somehow he won re-election this past November and is seen as a leading Republican presidential candidate.
I just don’t get it.
But a recent story by AllGov.com is easily one of the most alarming things about the Wisconsin governor that I’ve come across so far.
In case you weren’t aware, Walker was being investigated for breaking campaign finance laws and corruption during his 2012 recall election. It was alleged that he coordinated with various conservative groups – which is against the law.
Well, he won’t have to worry about that anymore because the case was thrown out by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a 4-2 decision, with all evidence ordered to be returned and destroyed. To top it off, the four justices who ruled to throw out the case against Walker all received campaign funds from the groups Walker was alleged to have conspired with illegally.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC) estimated that the Wisconsin Club for Growth spent $400,000 on Justice Annette Ziegler in 2007; $507,000 on Justice Michael Gableman in 2008; $520,000 on Justice David Prosser in 2011; and $350,000 on Justice Patience Roggensack in 2013.
WDC also estimated that Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce spent $2.2 million for Ziegler; $1.8 million for Gableman; $1.1 million for Prosser; and $500,000 for Roggensack. Citizens for a Strong America spent an estimated $985,000 in support of Prosser.
That the justices accepted monies from parties involved in the case they were deciding would seem like a conflict of interest. However, the court in 2010 changed the rules so that campaign contributions were no longer a reason for judicial recusal. The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce helped draft the rule change, the Brennan Center for Justice reported.
So, because of a rule change campaign donations aren’t allowed to factor in to a justice recusing themselves from a case. In other words, in Wisconsin, state Supreme Court justices can be bought. In my opinion, that is exactly what happened here.
It’s absurd that these charges were thrown out by four justices who received huge sums of money from the very groups linked to Walker’s alleged illegal activities.
That is absolutely ridiculous. Even if I were a Republican I would have to admit that’s extremely shady.
This is why it’s a terrible idea for judges at any level to have to run for office. Our judicial system is meant to be presided over by impartial interpreters of the law – not politicians in black robes whose gavel might be swayed based upon whether or not the defendant kicked in a little campaign cash during their last election.
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