A member of the State Assembly from 1979 through 1996 and Speaker of the Assembly from 1995 through 1996, Justice David T. Prosser, Jr. was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1998 by Republican governor Tommy Thompson and was reelected in 2001 with no opposition.
Justice Prosser was expected to have an easy reelection in 2011 until GOP Governor Scott Walker introduced his controversial plan in early 2011 to severely restrict public employee collective bargaining rights. The plan and massive Capitol protests by hundreds of thousands of state workers drew national attention and made an otherwise quiet reelection bid a referendum on Walker’s actions because Justice Prosser had been a longtime Republican legislator and Assembly Speaker.
Because of these developments -- and the added incentive of a new public financing program created by the Impartial Justice Act -- he faced three challengers in the primary election and narrowly defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg in the general election.
Justice Prosser got the vast majority of his campaign war chest leading up to the April general election from a $400,000 grant from the Democracy Trust Fund created by the Impartial Justice Act. The act and corresponding grant fund were meant to change the way state Supreme Court races are funded by increasing public financing and limiting large special interest contributions to candidates for the high court.
The close election results prompted a recount during which Justice Prosser received $266,000 from the Prosser Victory Recount Fund, a political action committee that collected most of its contributions from wealthy special interest donors outside Wisconsin.
Brown County Attorneys for Prosser ($1,175), Citizens for Impartial Justice ($43,827), Faith Family Freedom Fund ($11,330), NRA Political Victory Fund ($9,988), Roger and Martha Jensema ($53), Wisconsin Growing Forward ($481) and Wisconsin Right to Life PAC ($1,262) made independent expenditures favoring Justice Prosser.
Advancing Wisconsin Inc. ($42,002), Americans for Impartial Justice ($1,414), Catherine Cleary ($125), Central Wisconsin for Democracy ($138), Committee for a Just Supreme Court ($11,419), Concerned Citizens of Ashland & Bayfield County ($672), Dane County Citizen Action Coalition ($2,825), DFA-Wisconsin ($5,013), Greater Wisconsin Political Independent Expenditure Fund ($30,966), J. Thomas Haley ($3,034), JKLO ($192), Kenoshans for Quality Education ($4,667), Marion's List ($4,680), Middle Wisconsin ($680), MTI Voters ($4,093), PCCC Recall Committee ($5,013), Planned Parenthood Advocates of WI Inc. ($5,300), Progressworks.org ($3,514), Southwest Education Association ($658), Voces de la Frontera Action Committee ($315), Winnebagoland Uniserv PAC ($1,389), Wisconsin Citizens for Independent Courts ($4,144), Wisconsin Commons ($2,270), Wisconsin Lawyers for Justice ($609) and Working America ($12,011) made independent expenditures supporting challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.
Citizens for a Strong America (estimated $985,000), Citizens for the Republic (estimated $10,000), Club for Growth Wisconsin (estimated $520,000), Safari Club International (estimated $10,000) Tea Party Express (estimated $70,000), Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (estimated $1.1 million) and Wisconsin Right to Life (estimated $20,000) spent undisclosed sums (estimated $2.7 million) on "issue ads" in support of Justice Prosser.
Advancing Wisconsin (estimated $10,000) and Greater Wisconsin Committee (estimated $1.6 million) spent undisclosed sums (estimated $1.6 million) on "issue ads" supporting challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.
2011 Campaign Finance Summary
Raised: $692,597 - Spent: $700,957
Vote: 50.2% - Cost/Vote: $0.93
Disclosed independent spending: $68,116
Estimated issue ad spending: $2.7 million
Raised: $556,658 - Spent: $551,236
Vote: 49.7% - Cost/Vote: $0.74
Disclosed independent spending: $147,143
Estimated issue ad spending: $1.6 million
*All figures represent candidate income before any returns.
Individuals and Committees*
|Banking & Finance||$100|
*Individual contributions includes all contributions
Any returned and self contributions are excluded.
**All from Prosser Victory Recount Fund.
|Prosser, David||Appleton, WI||Wisconsin Supreme Court||$17,517|
|Wanek Family||Arcadia, WI||Ashley Furniture Industries||$2,000|
|Vogel Family||Oxford, MS||Ashley Furniture Industries||$1,100|
|Havenick, Fred & Barbara||Coral Gables, FL||Flagler Greyhound Park||$1,000|
|Mills, Stewart C Jr||Appleton, WI||Mills Fleet Farm||$700|
|Marcus, Stephen||Milwaukee, WI||Marcus Corp||$600|