Thursday, January 03, 2008

Who are those guys?

The Wisconsin Club for Growth exposes a self-appointed judicial election integrity committee as likely partisans for Justice Butler.

The newly created, Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee (WJCIC) trumpets itself as a citizen committee "protecting fair and impartial courts." The committee is neither fair, nor impartial. Committee Chairman and State Bar President Thomas Basting, a trial lawyer who has done criminal defense work, also calls the group non-partisan, yet nearly all of its members have ties to Governor Jim Doyle and the Democratic Party - including Basting. Doyle appointed Louis Butler to the Supreme Court in 2004 and recently hosted a high dollar fundraiser for Butler's campaign.

7 of the 8 members are former Democratic political leaders or appointees and/or donors of Governor Jim Doyle. Five members have made a total of 45 donations to Doyle's campaigns, including a dozen from Basting.

Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tim Cullen made 18 contributions, former Democratic Governor Tony Earl made 3, former Martin Schreiber cabinet member Carol Toussaint made 8 and UW-Madison professor Dennis Dresang made 4.

Three of the group's members or their spouses have ties to Louis Butler's campaign, and one member, Tony Earl has contributed money to Justice Butler. At least 5 of the committee members or their spouses have ties to liberal attorney Linda Clifford's unsuccessful 2007 campaign. None of the members has ties to Butler's opponent Judge Michael Gableman.

The only member of the WJCIC without a direct tie to Jim Doyle is Bill Kraus, a self-described "disaffiliated" Republican who advocates taxpayer funded campaigns and allowing the governor to appoint state Supreme Court justices. Kraus serves as Co-Chair of Wisconsin's Common Cause and is a frequent critic of Republican candidates and policies, once calling President Bush "ignorant" and questioning Ronald Reagan's intelligence. In addition, Kraus' wife Toni Sikes contributed $200 to Louis Butler's campaign in June of 2007, and he's hosted and attended fundraisers for liberal politicians and judges.

The only other Republican representative on the WJCIC is Appeal Court Judge Dave Deininger, a former legislator who was recently appointed by Doyle to serve on the Government Accountability Board.