Thursday, November 29, 2007

Judge Z again, supremely trying cases with personal conflict.

Hi folks,

From One Wisconsin Now:
Even as she remains the focus of an unprecedented conflict of interest ethics investigation, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler is set to hear arguments Thursday in a case where she has numerous conflicts of interest. The case involves a dispute between the state and the Neenah-based Menasha Corporation.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which spent $2 million on Ziegler's behalf in her recent election, previously filed an amicus brief siding with Menasha. In the same race, Ziegler also received a contribution from the company's former top executive.

The case before Ziegler and the Court, Wisconsin Department of Revenue vs. Menasha Corporation, 2004AP3239, involves the eligibility of a business for a state sales tax exemption.

Annette Ziegler has a dog in this fight and must recuse herself from the case. In response to the conflict, One Wisconsin Now has begun an online petition drive calling for Ziegler to recuse herself in the case. Sign the Petition Today! After you sign, don't forget to forward the petition to at least five friends.

Apparently, the appearance of conflict no longer matters to Americans or, more shockingly, to Wisconsinites. Where's Fighting Bob when we need him?

Maybe I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

That's probably it.

Mp aka Louis Renault, Prefect


Anonymous said...

Soooo... what about Butler's conflict?

- Owen

Mpeterson said...

Hey Owen,

What I always love most about your comments is the clever way they deflect attention from the question at hand. Nice technique.

A conflict is a conflict. I don't care who they are. We're a nation of laws because humans are, quite obviously, not entirely trustworthy. :^) If Butler's broken the rules, let him hang. If not, then there you are.

But Mr. Butler isn't one of my neighbors and I just don't have the time to keep up with every State office and expenditure the way you do. I had to spend this week explaining Plato and Milton Friedman and Martin Buber and grading papers. My Google alerts determine what goes in the blogs, and those are limited to my own backyard.

How you find the time to track everything is beyond me. I can barely get my grading done and keep track of a few piffling details within Washington County.

I can only imagine you asked about Judge Butler because you hoped I'd say the circumstances were different (which would give you the chance to accuse me of contradicting myself) or.... wait, was there an or?

Oh, and because I assume you didn't have anything useful to say about the barrel of monkeys Judge Ziegler jumped into -- because, right or wrong, she's a Republican?

Be well.


Anonymous said...

I can see why Owen and others would like to change the subject. The REAL issues are very clear:

A. WMC invested $2.2 MILLION getting Ziegler elected and drowned the airwaves for her.

B. They have a case before the SSC that is a major priority for them.

C. Ziegler has now admitted to repeatedly violating ethics rules. Specifically conflict of interest rules and she CANNOT be trusted on this case based on her record. This is NOT a mere judgement call, it is a clear $2.2 million conflict.

But I'm sure Owen et al will continue to deflect and change the topic anyway.

Cory Liebmann

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think Owen might be on to something - surprised his site hasn't lighted up like a Christmas tree on this topic - maybe he is busy at times with other things.

I don't think the Clifford supporters really knew what Panodra's box they opened here. While it is politically expedient to call attention to every situation involving Ziegler and contributions to her campaign, I think there are a lot of politicians (not just judges)who fear that they will be laboring under a cloud of suspicion when their every action is correlated to contributions that they received. The Clifford folks might have won the battle to diminish Ziegler's public reputation, but there is a bigger war out there.

Governor James Doyle must be worried: check this from today's Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel:

FRIDAY, Nov. 30, 2007, 2:52 p.m.
By Patrick Marley

Doyle: Special session needed on campaigns
Madison - Gov. Jim Doyle announced today he would call the Legislature into special session next month to pass campaign finance reforms that would include full public financing of Supreme Court races.

Doyle, a Democrat, announced he would call legislators in on Dec. 11 to address his plan, which would also increase the spending limits for candidates who take public financing and ban fund-raising during the budget process.

The plan was announced as questions have swirled around whether campaign spending is affecting Supreme Court justices' impartiality. Justice Annette K. Ziegler - who was elected in April after the most expensive judicial campaign in state history - has stepped aside in two cases after lawyers objected to campaign contributions she received.

In addition to providing full funding for public financing of Supreme Court races, the plan would:

Increase spending limits for candidates for other offices who accept public financing, and increase those limits automatically every two years. Critics have complained that candidates can't accept public financing because spending limits are far below what campaigns cost today.

Raise the amount individuals can dedicate to public financing on their income tax returns from $1 to $5. Sending that money to the public financing account does not increase individuals' taxes.

Ban fund raising by incumbents and challengers in partisan races from the time the governor introduces the state budget until he signs it into law.

The Republican-run Assembly and Democratic-led Senate would have to approve Doyle's proposal for it to become law.

capper said...

Let us not forget about A.G. J.B. Van Hollen. He also has a stake in this. I wonder how vigorously he prosecuted the case against his major supporter.

On a different note, I thought it was liberals that pointed out conservative shortcomings to cover up the failures on their side, not vice versa. Thank you, Owen, for correcting my misunderstanding.

Mpeterson said...

I suspect Owen was mainly just picking nits because the facts are now sufficiently well known to make defending Ms.Ziegler really tough.

On the other hand, I suspect that *you* are on to something: I always suspected there was more going on in the Clifford campaign than her trying to win.

I'm still startled by the judge who suggested Judge Ziegler didn't do anything surprising or unusual (even though $22,000 in fines and *not* losing a judicial seat surprises me). Maybe the members of our judicial system have been flying under the radar long enough to have forgotten their obligation to be... well, just.

Old fashioned word, "just." Maybe we should replace it with "expedient" or "efficient."

I wonder if Owen would prefer efficient government?

And so it goes.