Hijacking Justice 2011

Club for Growth Wisconsin

Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $520,000

This phony issue ad group is the state arm of the national Club for Growth which supports Republican candidates for federal office.  Club for Growth Wisconsin spent more than $1 million on outside electioneering activities in the 2007 and 2008 state Supreme Court races and the 2008 and 2010 fall elections.

Club for Growth Wisconsin was the first outside special interest group to promote a candidate in the 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court race.  The group spent at least $321,000 in the two weeks leading up to the February 15 primary to air a television ad supporting incumbent Justice David Prosser.  The ad contains pictures of Prosser and positive comments about him.  The ad refers viewers to a web site run by the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council to learn more about Prosser.

But the lofty sounding Wisconsin Civil Justice Council has nothing to do with the legal profession.  The council is a coalition of powerful business, manufacturing, insurance, construction, transportation and health care groups that support policies making it more difficult to sue businesses.  The council's site includes a 23-page report on the state Supreme Court and some of its decisions in business cases.  One part of the report says "Justice Prosser has a proven track record of being pro-business and is known for his deliberate, well-reasoned decisions.  Based on the experiences and track records of each of Justice Prosser's opponents, this election will determine whether the court remains pro-business, or whether it reverts to issuing decisions benefiting" those who sue businesses.

The Wisconsin Civil Justice Council recently backed legislation that reduces punitive damage awards against businesses when they are sued.  Critics, including aging groups, say the legislation also makes it more difficult for people injured by defective products to sue businesses and it protects nursing homes when they are accused of abusing or neglecting their patients.

Club for Growth also sponsored radio advertisments in March 2011 criticizing Prosser's opponent,  Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Last active election: 2010