When the Occupy Wall Street movement began it had a simple goal: protest the intermarriage of corporate money and politics. Naturally, the movement (or at least the coverage of it) became more about the drum circles, free iPad libraries, and hygiene so that original message was coopted into a general dislike for the rich and the movement fizzled out. Yet, in Wisconsin the kind of collusion between corporate interests and politics original railed about have come together in a way that if this were fiction would be criticized as far too obvious and frankly unbelievable.
According to ThinkProgress.org, a criminal probe targeting “major spenders on state supreme court races” is facing a court challenge and “the justices who benefited from that spending will likely get to decide whether this probe moves forward.” In January, the Fourth District Court rejected claims by anonymous petitioners (the court records are sealed) challenging the legality of the probe. However, these same petitioners have appealed to the State Supreme Court, some of whose justices have benefitted from at least two targets of the investigation, Wisconsin Club for Growth and Citizens for a Strong America.
Conservative Justice David Prosser received more than a million dollars in donations from WCG, CSA, and other groups and he does not have to recuse himself from ruling on whether or not to seal up that money funnel. According to Think Progress, the law that allows justices to proceed in spite of this clear conflict of interest was “co-written by” Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which “reportedly spent more than $5 million supporting conservative members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”
Of course the Wisconsin State Supreme Court’s problems may go deeper than simple pay-to-play donations. Justice Prosser was accused by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley of putting her in a “chokehold” during an argument about another court case involving money and politics, but filed by Governor Scott Walker during his recall election.