Justice-For-Sale Lobbyists Raising ‘Unlimited and Undisclosed’ Donations To Buy Supreme Court Seat

Last year, Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and Gov. Scott Walker ally David Prosser cast the key vote in favor of a “justice-for-sale” ethics rule written by two corporate lobbying groups. Thanks to Justice Prosser, his colleagues are not required to recuse themselves from cases involving one of their major campaign donors. Now, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), one of the lobbying groups that wrote the rule Prosser made into law, is rewarding him by raising “unlimited and undisclosed” funds to keep Prosser on the state supreme court:

Dear Wisconsin Business Leader,

The government worker unions are openly attempting to overturn the November elections, buying an activist majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and grinding our democracy to a halt because Governor Scott Walker has refused to raise taxes to balance the budget. [...]

Click here to make a generous corporate contribution to counter their efforts. Donations are unlimited and undisclosed. [...]

WMC IMC will mount a statewide TV ad campaign to educate the public about Justice Prosser’s common sense approach. And, we will educate the public about Kloppenburg’s radical agenda, and how the union bosses want her to stand in the way of reform.

Please, give today. Our business climate is at stake.

WMC, whose board of directors includes a high ranking executive with a Koch Industries company, has a record of spending exorbitant sums of money to ensure that the state supreme court is friendly to powerful corporate interest groups. In 2008, WMC spent $1.2 million to replace former Justice Louis Butler with an obscure conservative judge after Butler sided against wealthy interest groups in three court decisions. Butler is now an Obama nominee for a federal trial judgeship.

Moreover, WMC’s efforts to buy up seat after seat on the state supreme court would have been illegal just a few years ago. Wisconsin banned corporations from buying state elections in 1905, but that law effectively ceased to exist when the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of corporate campaign funds in its infamous Citizens United decision.

ThinkProgress / By Ian Millhiser

Posted at March 26, 2011, 5:42am

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