Tag: recusal

Wisconsin Republicans are delivering a kill shot to democracy

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a link to an article that includes an error. Specifically, Wisconsin State Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D) lives in Milton, Wisconsin, not Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, although Jorgensen did live in Fort Atkinson prior to the post-2010 Census gerrymandering of Wisconsin’s state legislative districts.


Republicans that control Wisconsin state government are delivering a kill shot to democracy by enacting a series of laws designed to effectively destroy democracy in Wisconsin.

The Progressive magazine columnist and Madison Common Council member Rebecca Kemble wrote a must-read article about Republican efforts to destroy democracy in Wisconsin, which you can read here.

The Republican efforts to destroy democracy in Wisconsin consists of the following three pieces of legislation:

  • 2015 Wisconsin Act 64 – While bribery and many forms of political corruption are still illegal in Wisconsin, this law effectively decriminalizes bribery and corruption in Wisconsin by removing the only effective tool in Wisconsin state law to prosecute bribery and corruption: the John Doe investigation. Republican Governor Scott Walker, himself the target of two John Doe investigations that led to a total of six of his associates either being convicted or pleading guilty to various crimes, has already signed this bill into law.
  • Wisconsin Assembly Bill 387 – This legislation, among other things, allows coordination between non-federal candidates for public office in Wisconsin and outside groups like SuperPACs, ends the legal requirement that candidates disclose their campaign donor’s employers, and eliminates campaign contribution limits in Wisconsin. When this bill was voted on in the Wisconsin Assembly, not a single member of the Assembly voted against the legislation. That’s because, in one of the most ridiculous political stunts that I’ve ever seen, Democratic members of the Wisconsin Assembly recused themselves from voting on the legislation citing a conflict of interest, but the conflict of interest statute they cited specifically exempts state legislative votes on legislation to change state laws and regulations.
  • Wisconsin Assembly Bill 388 – This legislation would abolish the officially non-partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB), which is composed of six retired judges and is responsible for both state-level election administration and enforcing state ethics laws in Wisconsin, with separate state elections and ethics commissions composed of political appointees of major-party state legislative leaders and the governor. If this bill were to become law, major-party state legislative leaders could legally appoint themselves or other elected officials to the state elections commission in Wisconsin and remain in elected office, which would be a brazen conflict of interest.

The Wisconsin GOP’s effort to destroy democracy in Wisconsin reminds me a lot of the right-wing Fidesz party in Hungary entrenching itself into power by gerrymandering electoral districts to benefit Fidesz and other right-wing politicians, as well as amending the Hungarian Constitution to undermine civil liberties and entrench Fidesz into power in Hungary. The kind of partisan takeovers normally seen in places like Eastern Europe is taking place right here in the United States, specifically, in Wisconsin.

Advertisements

Apparent illegal coordination between one or more conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court bench and right-wing groups

The progressive website ThinkProgress is reporting that one or more of the four conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court have been involved in illegal coordination between their official campaign organizations and right-wing political organizations, according to a legal brief filed by Francis Schmitz, the special prosecutor in the John Doe II investigation into violations of campaign finance laws by Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The name(s) of the justice(s) involved in the illegal coordination, the political groups involved in the illegal coordination, and the names of other individuals implicated were redacted because of Wisconsin state laws that govern John Doe investigations prohibiting the disclosure of identities until and unless charges are filed. Schmitz has asked for two of the justices to recuse themselves from the case, but the identities of those justices were redacted in the publicly-available version of the brief.

This development comes at the same time that the Wisconsin Supreme Court is hearing a case in which the conservative majority on the bench will probably decide to strike down the John Doe II probe, which is a flagrant conflict of interest, given that all four of the conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court bench have benefited from money spent by right-wing groups that are implicated in the investigation. However, none of the four conservatives have shown any indication that they will recuse themselves from the case. Personally, I believe that all four of the conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court bench, David Prosser, Michael Gableman, Patience Roggensack, and Annette Ziegler, should recuse themselves from all cases involving the John Doe II probe that are brought before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.