Good Day in Court for Political Ad Disclosure

In this update: 1. Supreme Court dismisses legal challenge to political ad disclosure rules 2. Judicial Commission files ethics charges against Prosser 3. Wisconsin gets shaky scores on "corruption risk" report card 4. Odds and ends Good Day in Court for Political Ad Disclosure

Email date: 3/20/12

In this update:
1. Supreme Court dismisses legal challenge to political ad disclosure rules
2. Judicial Commission files ethics charges against Prosser
3. Wisconsin gets shaky scores on “corruption risk” report card
4. Odds and ends

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Supreme Court dismisses legal challenge to political ad disclosure rules
Yesterday the state Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a case challenging new campaign finance transparency rules and withdrew a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the rules.

The rules requiring interest groups attacking or praising candidates for state office close to an election to disclose where they get their money were sought for years by the Democracy Campaign and were approved by the state Government Accountability Board in 2010. But when the board was sued later that year, it backed off from enforcing the rules. In light of yesterday’s ruling, it’s time for the GAB to make plans to begin enforcing the disclosure requirements.

More on the court decision from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Judicial Commission files ethics charges against Prosser
Wisconsin’s Judicial Commission on Friday charged state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser with three ethics violations stemming from a June 13 incident during which Prosser put his hands on the neck of fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.

Enforcement of the state judicial ethics code is ultimately the responsibility of the high court, putting justices in an awkward position of standing in judgment of one of their peers when judicial misconduct allegations are made against a current member of the court. This latest Judicial Commission complaint marks the third time since 2007 that ethics charges have been brought against a Supreme Court justice. It had never happened before that.

While Prosser and several of his colleagues on the court have been stubbornly resistant to standing down from cases when they have apparent conflicts of interest, Prosser is asking all of his fellow justices to recuse themselves from his own misconduct case.

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Wisconsin gets shaky scores on “corruption risk” report card
Our state has gone from being a beacon of clean, open and honest government to below average when it comes to government openness and accountability, according to a new 50-state assessment. Wisconsin got a C-minus on the “Corruption Risk Report Card” and the scoring gives Wisconsin more credit than deserved. It cites the state Supreme Court’s practice of opening some of its deliberations to the public, a practice the court recently ended.

According to this study, Wisconsin is more at risk for corruption than states like Illinois, Louisiana and New Jersey.

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Odds and ends
Harper’s Index reports that half of the $62 million raised by presidential Super PACs in 2011 came from the top 22 givers.

An analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism shows that 110 people or groups paid more than $273,000 in fines for violating Wisconsin’s campaign finance and ethics laws in the past three years. Many of them were the targets of Democracy Campaign complaints filed with the Government Accountability Board.

The Democracy Campaign’s director is the subject of a profile and Q&A in The Capital Times.