Email date: 4/19/07
In this update:
1. Ethics Board investigation yields complaint against Ziegler
2. Heffernan was ahead of his time
The state Ethics Board filed a complaint yesterday against newly elected Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler alleging she violated a state law prohibiting conflicts of interest by public officials.
The Ethics Board complaint is the second lodged against Ziegler. The Democracy Campaign asked the state Judicial Commission on March 19 to investigate whether Ziegler violated the Judicial Code of Conduct by handling cases as a Washington County circuit judge in which she or her husband had a significant financial or business relationship with one of the parties involved in the cases.
The fond memories mostly have focused on Heffernan’s wit and wisdom and his enduring impact on the state’s highest court. It also should be pointed out that he was a man well ahead of his time on the issue of how election campaigns are financed in Wisconsin.
Ten years before this year’s Supreme Court election debacle fueled renewed calls for reform and inspired the introduction of legislation to clean up high court contests, Heffernan headed a citizen commission that recommended a plan for full public financing of primary and general elections in Wisconsin.
If the Heffernan Commission’s advice in 1997 had been acted upon back then, the problems that now have grown to crisis proportions could have been headed off at the pass.
But then as Shakespeare famously said, what is past is prologue. As the Sheboygan Press suggested in a recent editorial, state lawmakers should heed Justice Heffernan’s wise counsel now.
Better late than never.