I warned in my December 24 post about the iniquity of a self-appointed group of people acting as a "watchdog" over the state Supreme Court election. Various heavy breathers have countered that this special interest group was the State Bar Association, and that the Bar has a special duty with regard to attorneys. But "The People" do not elect attorneys. In Wisconsin, we do elect judges and Supreme Court justices. And therein is the problem.
That is why it is important to understand that the Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee (WJCIC) has no special standing - no more so then would a creation of the Wisconsin Education Association Council have any more say over the superintendent of public instruction. (The state already has the Wisconsin Judicial Commission for attorney misconduct.)
But our mainstream news media does not seem to understand this. It has already been disclosed that several members or wives of members of the WJCIC have contributed to incumbent Justice Louis Butler.
First the group reprimanded Judge Gableman for saying that Justice Butler has consistently sided with criminals over law enforcement. (Which may be why Gableman is endorsed by the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association.)
Then the group asked justice candidates to disavow ads by third-party groups, but why should they if they agree with those comments?
And that, finally, is the whole point: it makes no sense to make judges run for office when they cannot tell how they would rule or say, really, anything of meaning during a campaign. The Wisconsin State Journal is halfway aboard on this but then succumbs to the lure of some intermediary, such as a WJCIC or like agent, to vet candidates and come up with the three most qualified, from among whom the governor would appoint.
But these third-party groups are the problem. They want to get their hands on the process - a choke point. Now it transpires that the WJCIC is in active cahoots with Butler against his challenger, Mike Gableman.
We have The Club for Growth Wisconsin to thank for the exposé. Its web site relates:
STAR CHAMBER'S SECRET DELIBERATIONS EXPOSED
The Wisconsin Judicial Integrity Campaign Committee (WJCIC), a "nonpartisan" panel designed to judge the ethical conduct of candidates and organizations for Wisconsin's upcoming Supreme Court race has made false and misleading statements to the media, coordinated partisan attacks to silence critics, and even recommended strategies for Louis Butler's campaign. ??E-mails obtained through an open records request by Wisconsin Club for Growth demonstrate that the clandestine attempt to railroad the campaign of Judge Mike Gableman does not match the "nonpartisan" rhetoric espoused the committee's chair, Tom Basting, President of the State Bar of Wisconsin in an recent interview with WisPolitics.com.
Club for Growth has an extensive list of hyperlinks to the source documents but Charlie Sykes on his blog reproduces this smoking gun from WJCIC member Bill Kraus - the Democrat(ic) party's favorite "Republican," a man who has been feeding off Lee Dreyfus all these years while venting his hatred of the Republican party. There is a reason you can find Kraus' stuff on Ed Garvey's blog. Sykes finds:
In a December 19th email regarding the Gableman campaign response to the WJCIC ruling Kraus takes a personal shot at Gableman consultant Darrin Schmitz and Wisconsin Club for Growth advisor, R.J. Johnson.
"Darrin is the legitimate child of the demon RJ Johnson an advocate of wedge politics from whence all the trouble arises. A sharp poke in the slats is my recommendation."
Source: Kraus email to WJCIC Members 12/19/07
On January 6th, Kraus advocates threatening the Gableman campaign with a public shaming if they don't return the signed pledge.
"We can, and should, make some noise if, as, and when the promised pledge from Butler arrives and ask where his opponent's is."
Source: Kraus email to WJCIC Members 1/6/08
In a separate email, Kraus reiterates his desire to go after Gableman:
"If anyone in the press is attentive enough to ask the right question, it will give us the opportunity to let them know where Gableman is getting his bad advice."
Source: Kraus Email to WJCIC Members 1/8/08
Darrin asks for justice
Brian Fraley on his blog reproduces a letter from Gableman campaign director Darrin Schmitz dated February 20 to State Bar and WJCIC president Tom Basting, asking the group to bow out of the picture.
This morning I had the unfortunate experience to learn more about the inner workings and the agenda of the Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee (WJCIC). What I learned in a series of now-public e-mail exchanges among committee members is that the WJCIC is clearly not capable of acting in a fair and impartial manner when considering the current race for the Supreme Court.
In a good-faith effort to come to an agreement with you, I personally expressed my concerns regarding the subjectivity of the committee's rules and mission. I also expressed concern with the philosophical bent of the committee and the troubling fact that a significant donor to Louis Butler's campaign is a member. However, an examination of a series of e-mails obtained through an open records request and made public today not only reinforces my concern that the WJCIC is biased, but it is now plainly obvious that the committee is purposefully hostile to Judge Gableman.
Upon reading communications laced with references to Gableman campaign staff and others as "skunk", "demon", "mercenaries", any reasonable person would believe these personal attacks occurred on a school playground - not among adult professionals charged with representing the State Bar of Wisconsin.
But perhaps the most shocking revelation is the fact committee members devised detailed campaign advice for incumbent Louis Butler and encouraged committee members to reach out to the Butler campaign to share the advice. A committee member wrote,
"This seems to me to be a Butler campaign problem/opportunity. Surely they are familiar with the enemies strategy. If not, someone can refer them to something that happened in 1978 when a candidate was attacked by outsiders and used that to question the motives and even the fact of their participation. Butler can talk about the professors oversimplifications and about the megaphone supplied by WMC and take the boost that gives him without the mentioning his opponent."
It is obvious that WJCIC should stand down from any participation in the current Supreme Court race. I hope you will publicly confirm that is the case today.
We'll see whether and if the mainstream news media covers this story.