Wisconsin Supreme Court mired in conflict of interest in John Doe case Conflicted

Email date: 10/6/14

In the top story on the front page of Sunday’s paper, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that three groups that have fought in court to end the “John Doe” investigation into suspected election campaign wrongdoing – Club for Growth, Citizens for a Strong America and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce – spent more than $8 million over the past seven years to get four justices who make up the court majority elected to the office.

The fate of this criminal probe now rests with our state’s highest court. And four of the court’s seven members have had millions of dollars spent on their behalf by interest groups that are known targets of the investigation.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign made this story possible. These three groups are not registered political committees in Wisconsin and do not submit campaign finance reports detailing their election spending or disclosing their donors. They operate outside the state’s disclosure laws and campaign finance monitoring system. Without the Democracy Campaign’s ongoing efforts to track the activities of “dark money” groups like these, the public would not be aware of how ethically compromised the four-member court majority is in this important case.

Four Supreme Court justices owe their positions in no small measure to the more than $8 million these groups spent to put them in office. Those same four justices approved changes to Wisconsin’s judicial ethics rules written by one of the groups. That rule change clears the way for them to decide the John Doe case. They could stop the investigation and get their biggest campaign supporters out of legal jeopardy.

If this knowledge makes you see red, remember for a moment that without the Democracy Campaign’s money tracking you wouldn’t see anything at all.

The Democracy Campaign made possible the revelation of the flagrant conflicts of interest in our state’s highest court. And you make our money tracking possible. Without ongoing support from a great many people like you, we would not have the resources needed to shine light on dark money and unearth evidence of the millions of dollars worth of election spending done by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Club for Growth, Citizens for a Strong America and countless others like them.

The news media and citizenry depend on the Democracy Campaign to reveal essential information that otherwise would be hidden from public view. We depend on you to sustain us. Please take a minute to make a tax-deductible gift in support of our work.

If you agree with us that it is absolutely essential that stories like the one in Sunday’s State Journal be told, then take a few minutes right now to help ensure that the Democracy Campaign will be able to make the next such story possible.

Thanks for your support.