Email date: 9/30/14
In this update:
1. John Doe probe’s fate may rest with conflicted court
2. “Time for a new option”
John Doe probe’s fate may rest with conflicted court
A federal appeals court slapped a lower-court judge for overstepping his bounds and made it clear that state prosecutors have not exceeded their authority or acted in bad faith in investigating apparent campaign wrongdoing in Wisconsin. The appellate judges also made it clear the case is a state matter and does not belong in federal court.
That means the fate of the so-called John Doe investigation may ultimately rest with the state Supreme Court. Four of the seven justices on Wisconsin’s high court have flagrant conflicts of interest in this matter, having had huge sums of money spent in elections on their behalf by at least three groups that are targets of the investigation.
Citing data provided by the Democracy Campaign, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported: “Among the groups mentioned in the investigation are three that have spent heavily in court races to elect four of the court’s seven justices. The Wisconsin Club for Growth is estimated to have spent $400,000 for Annette Ziegler in 2007; $507,000 for Michael Gableman in 2008; $520,000 for David Prosser in 2011; and $350,000 for Patience Roggensack in 2013. Citizens for a Strong America spent an estimated $985,000 to help Prosser. That group was funded by the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which prosecutors have described as a ‘hub’ that distributed funds to allies. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which has received some funding from the Wisconsin Club for Growth and is the state’s largest business lobbying group, spent an estimated $2.2 million for Ziegler; $1.8 million for Gableman; $1.1 million for Prosser; and $500,000 for Roggensack.”
However, back in 2010 the four conflicted justices voted to approve rules written for them by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association that permit them to rule on cases like the John Doe dispute.Those state judicial ethics rules are in direct conflict with a 2009 U.S Supreme Court ruling in a West Virginia case.
The Beloit Daily News editorialized yesterday that Wisconsin has the “best court money can buy.”
“Time for a new option”
Over the weekend, Wisconsin Public Television aired an interview with Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe about his book on its “Here and Now” program. Yesterday, the Wausau Daily Herald took to Twitter to call attention to a commentary of Mike’s that the newspaper published on Sunday, tweeting “Time for a new option to break out of broken politics.”