Supreme Court Justice David Prosser last month sat for an interview with The Shepherd about the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), and why he accepted, verbatim, ethics rules that the WMC proposed for the Court.
At issue: whether campaign donations should prevent Justices from reviewing cases involving the donors.
Go back and read it, as the article has Prosser speaking at length about the WMC.
The WMC has solicited unlimited donations for Prosser, and is paying for ads to support his campaign - - a campaign which the Journal Sentinel says it endorses because of his independence.
With emphasis: "...he is independent," says the paper's Sunday endorsement editorial.
Let the Shepherd's Lisa Kaiser let Prosser shed a little more light on all that...
"Toward the end of our conversation I asked him about his 100% rating from the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, aka the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), the conservative big business lobbying group that has poured millions of dollars into legislative and judicial campaigns, as well as some of their business allies.
"Here’s part of the exchange, focusing on...the ethics rules...that Prosser, again in the majority, voted to adopt. The rules were written by WMC and the Wisconsin Realtors Association regarding campaign donations and judges. One rule, adopted verbatim, says that judges and justices are not required to recuse themselves from cases in which a major campaign donor (or a party that ran independent ads during that judge’s campaign) is involved. The other rule says that judges and justices are allowed to receive campaign donations from parties that have a case before that judge.
"Prosser and I had a very long discussion of these rules. In a nutshell, he thinks that the whole situation was set up to make him look bad. Initially, the League of Women Voters submitted draft rules that would require judges and justices to recuse themselves from cases that involved a party that had contributed $1,000 to their campaign. Prosser told me that this limit was too restrictive and would force judges off of cases all over the state. Fair enough.
"So then the WMC and the Realtors submitted their proposed rules. Normally, Prosser said, the court would hold hearings and send proposed rules to a committee to study them and make a recommendation, then the court would tweak the proposal. But Prosser told me that he felt that the committee was designed to embarrass him and the other conservatives on the court. He didn’t think that he and his allies would be treated fairly.
“You can’t have certain members of the court trying to turn public hearings into an opportunity to embarrass other members of the court without expecting a reaction,” Prosser said. “And this is exactly what happened.”
"So he and Roggensack, Gableman and Ziegler voted to adopt the rules verbatim. Prosser wrote the commentary about them.
"Can you see why people think this smells bad? I asked Prosser.
“'I can see why a lot of people are trying to create the perception that the court has been bought,” Prosser said. “The people who want to create that perception are really people who didn't like the result of the election...”
"So Prosser not only has to deal with the fallout from the Gableman case—including his own votes sympathetic to WMC—but now he’s caught up in the Walker=Prosser whirlwind. Wonder when the WMC (or one of its front groups or allies such as the Club For Growth) will start airing ads in his defense (or destroying his opponent, Assistant AG JoAnne Kloppenburg). Stay tuned."