Ethical Double Standards

In this update: 1. Ziegler complied with agency’s laws, now says she’s above them 2. Protest in front of high court chambers set for Monday 3. Vote on reform bills scheduled for next Tuesday 4. Commentary: Sham issue ad groups living a lie 5. Suspension of convicted ex-lawmakers’ law licenses extended Ethical Double Standards

Email date: 5/3/07

In this update:
1. Ziegler complied with agency’s laws, now says she’s above them
2. Protest in front of high court chambers set for Monday
3. Vote on reform bills scheduled for next Tuesday
4. Commentary: Sham issue ad groups living a lie
5. Suspension of convicted ex-lawmakers’ law licenses extended

Our most recent Big Money Blog says, among other things, that Judge Annette Ziegler cannot put herself above the law and essentially invoke judicial privilege by arguing that ethics laws enforced by the Ethics Board don’t apply to her.

Milwaukee Magazine editor Bruce Murphy came to the same conclusion in his most recent column, but in so doing made an excellent point we hadn’t thought of. Murphy notes that Ziegler has for years dutifully obeyed laws the Ethics Board is responsible for - by, for example, filing the statements of economic interest the board requires all state officials to submit - but now is claiming the Ethics Board has no enforcement power over her.

Ziegler’s change of heart about the Ethics Board’s authority came when those statements of economic interest she sent the board all these years revealed serious conflicts of interest.

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Annette Ziegler has taken her stand. Veteran journalists like Bruce Murphy are having a field day with it. Now it’s your turn. If the recent state Supreme Court election debacle and Ziegler’s ongoing ethical gymnastics have you at a rolling boil, you can let off some steam by taking part in the demonstration for judicial ethics on Monday at noon in the Capitol.

Participants will gather in room 225 Northwest shortly before marching over to the Supreme Court chambers and picketing for fair and impartial courts...and judges who are accountable to the law, not beholden to special interests.

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After holding a public hearing Tuesday on three reform proposals, including the Impartial Justice bill and Judicial Right to Know bill, the Senate Committee on Campaign Finance Reform, Rural Issues and Information Technology has scheduled a vote on all three measures next Tuesday. All the more reason to send a loud and clear message in favor of reform at Monday’s demonstration.

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The third reform proposal scheduled for a committee vote on Tuesday is Senate Bill 77, a truth-in-campaigning measure requiring full disclosure of special interest group electioneering.

A commentary by the Democracy Campaign’s director that is appearing in newspapers and other publications across the state makes the case for this reform.

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It’s been six years since the first stories about the Capitol caucus scandal broke. But the scandal’s aftermath still is playing out. Yesterday, the state Supreme Court announced it is extending the suspensions of Chuck Chvala’s and Brian Burke’s licenses to practice law in Wisconsin until 2008.