Hijacking Justice 2008: Independent Expenditures

Independent Expenditures in the 2008 Supreme Court Campaign.
Hijacking Justice 2008

Independent Expenditures in the 2008 Supreme Court Campaign

Posted: March 20, 2008
Updated: January 30, 2009

Listed below are the PACs that made independent expenditures in the 2008 Supreme Court election. Links to information on past independent spending since 2000 are also provided.

Center Advocates PAC

Supported: Butler
Spent: $129

Milwaukee group that advocates gay and lesbian rights and opposed the "gay marriage" referendum in 2006.

This PAC made independent expenditures to print and mail their candidate endorsements.

Citizens to Defend the Constitution

Supported: Butler
Spent: $15,588

This group first registered as a PAC in Wisconsin to make independent expenditures in the 2008 Supreme Court race. Affiliated with the Arlington, VA-based Democratic Judicial Campaign Committee whose directors include former Wisconsin attorney general Peg Lautenschlager and former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, who are Democrats. It says its mission is to elect Democratic judges to state courts.

Reported independent expenditures for 35,000 or more get-out-the-vote calls and an unspecified number of email solicitations.

Greater Wisconsin Committee PAC

Supported: Butler
Spent: $104,823

This is the political action committee of a Milwaukee-based group formed in mid-2004 that uses negative radio, television and newspaper advertising and mailings to support Democratic candidates and oppose Republican candidates. The group draws its cash from labor, lawyer, tribal and business interests.

In the 2008 Supreme Court race it reported making independent expenditures on advertising and phone calls. It also spent undisclosed amounts on issue ads in the race.

Past Independent Spending: 20072006

Issue Ad Activity: 2008 Supreme Court200720062004

Kenosha AFL-CIO Political Donation Fund

Supported: Butler
Spent: $67

Political action committee of the Kenosha local of the AFL-CIO that made independent expenditures in a 1996 State Senate recall election.

It reported spending on newspaper ads in the 2008 general election.

Milwaukee Police Association PAC

Supported: Butler
Spent: $63

The Milwaukee Police Association is the union for Milwaukee police officers. In 2006 the association’s PAC spent $1,683 on behalf of Milwaukee area candidates from both parties. It favored the Republican candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in 2006 and 2002. In the 2008 Supreme Court race the PAC made independent expenditures on a newspaper ad supporting then-incumbent Justice Louis Butler, who is from Milwaukee.

Past Independent Spending: 20062002

NRA Political Victory Fund

Supported: Gableman
Spent: $73,458

The NRA Political Victory Fund is the political action committee of the Virginia-based National Rifle Association. The committee supports pro-gun candidates mainly through independent spending, but in the 2004 election cycle it made more direct contributions to candidates - $7,525 - than it spent on independent expenditures.

In the 2008 Supreme Court race it reported spending to print and mail pro-Gableman postcards.

Past Independent Spending: 200420022000

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin

Supported: Butler
Spent: $863

One of several PACs run by the pro-choice, pro-family planning organization. Planned Parenthood was also active in the 2007 Supreme Court election.

It reported spending on get-out-the-vote flyers and phone calls.

Past Independent Spending: 20072006200420022000

Volunteers for Agriculture

Supported: Gableman

This political action committee is used by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation to support candidates who vote its way on agricultural issues. Volunteers for Agriculture has engaged in independent spending since 2000 through newspaper and radio ads and direct mail.

In 2006, the committee made independent expenditures totaling nearly $160,000 in the gubernatorial, attorney general, and eight legislative races.

A week before the election the PAC bought ads to support Judge Gableman in several farm publications.

Past Independent Spending: 2006200420022000


Supported: Butler
Spent: $349,325

The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) represents public school teachers, educational support personnel, technical college employees, and student teachers in Wisconsin. WEAC is among the largest direct contributors to candidates for statewide office and the legislature. It also spends substantial sums on independent expenditures and issue ads.

WEAC spent about $2 million on independent expenditures in the 2006 election-- mostly to oppose the Republican candidate for governor.

Just a week before the April 1 Supreme Court election WEAC ran a lurid 30-second TV ad that accused Gableman of giving child molestors light sentences.

Past Independent Spending: 2006200420022000