Something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin

I warned you the other day, “Something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin,” to paraphrase the Bard from Hamlet.

When corporations fund the campaigns of elected judges to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, when those corporations appear before judges in Wisconsin they get the decisions that they paid for in advance.

I have previously posted:

dark_moneyNotably, the Wisconsin Supreme Court amended the state’s code of judicial conduct in 2010 to specifically exclude campaign contributions and independent expenditures as bases for recusal in Wisconsin.” BRIEF: Ethicists Urge Wisconsin Justices to Consider Recusal in Gov. Scott Walker Campaign Finance Case. This is in conflict with recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent:

The Brennan Center for Justice brief argues that the Wisconsin Supreme Court must consider the recusal motion in a manner consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co. (.pdf), which ruled that judges may be required to recuse themselves when a litigant provides significant campaign support to a judge.

The state of Wisconsin has been so thoroughly corrupted since Citizens United and the rise of Scott Walker and the Tea Party, I no longer recognize the place I knew and loved. It’s like a dark mass insanity has overtaken a good part of its citizens.

Today the conservative groups that bankrolled Governor Scott Walker as well as the campaigns of the judges of the Wisconsin Supreme Court got the decision that they pad for in advance. Supreme Court ends John Doe probe that threatened Scott Walker’s presidential bid.

Charles Pierce at Esquire points out the obvious, Watching Scotty Blow, Cont’d: Governor Walker’s Campaign Investigation Ends:

So, not only does this decision pull Walker’s cojones out of the fire, it also demolishes whatever was left of Wisconsin’s campaign-finance regulations. This is particularly piquant in this case when one notes that Wisconsin also operates under the Second Worst Idea in American Politics — The Elected Judiciary.

In February, the special prosecutor asked that one or more justices drop out of the case, presumably because they have benefitted from spending by the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. The Wisconsin Club for Growth is estimated to have spent $400,000 for Ziegler in 2007; $507,000 for Gableman in 2008; $520,000 for Prosser in 2011; and $350,000 for Roggensack in 2013. WMC spent an estimated $2.2 million for Ziegler; $1.8 million for Gableman; $1.1 million for Prosser; and $500,000 for Roggensack. In addition, Citizens for a Strong America — a group funded entirely by the Wisconsin Club for Growth — spent an estimated $985,000 to help Prosser. The spending estimates come from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political spending. The justices did not give a reason for why they don’t view that spending as a conflict, but court rules say political spending on its own is not enough to force a justice off a case.

If you’re keeping score at home, the same organizations that were the subject of the criminal probe gave hundreds of thousands of neatly laundered dollars to the judges who ruled that those same organizations did nothing wrong on behalf of Scott Walker because fk you, that’s why. If this happened in Myanmar or Kazakhstan, we’d all be laughing at it. Instead, let’s once again congratulate Justice Anthony Kennedy for his immortal observation that: “…independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption.”

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Outside of four justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, it’s hard to imagine anyone dumb or bought enough to buy that nonsense.​

People do here in Arizona, the hub of the “Kochtopus” dark money operations. The right-wing would like nothing more than to repeal Arizona’s voter-approved constitutional amendment for  merit selection of judges so that their “dark money” organizations can buy the courts and get the decisions that they pay for in advance, just like they do in Wisconsin.

Do not call this justice.

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