Special interests help set judicial spending record
It's not exactly "hold the presses!" news anymore, but the most recent state Supreme Court race set records for spending. And most of it, to no surprise, was spent by special interest groups. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reports that in the spring race between Louis Butler and Michael Gableman, $5.96 million was spent, $4.8 million of it by special interests.
Candidates and third party groups spent $5.8 million in 2007. WDC called the race more "lopsided" this year since the candidates themselves spent only $1.2 million.
According to the report, among the biggest spenders among issue ad groups, which don't have to report the source of their funds, were:
- Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, $1.8 million, in support of Gableman.
- Greater Wisconsin Committee, $1.5 million, supporting Butler.
- Coalition for America's Families and Club for Growth Wisconsin, $1 million, supporting Gableman.
And among the biggest independent expenditures, which do have to declare the sources of their money:
- Wisconsin Education Association Council, $349,325, supporting Butler.
- Greater Wisconsin Committee's political action committee, $104,823, for Butler.
- National Rifle Association, $73,458, for Gableman.
Dishing Out Blame: In the wake of the Independence Day massacre, when four people were killed in a gang hit, Milwaukee Ald. Bob Donovan wants to impose his sense of justice -- on judges. The alderman is calling for a "court watch" of citizen volunteers to monitor courtrooms and influence judges to hand down stiffer sentences.
Donovan previously pointed out that the accused in the July 4 murders were convicted felons.
"We in Milwaukee County have a weak link in our criminal justice system and it is very clearly our judges and our corrections system," Donovan said. "These clowns and thugs are released from prison after serving ridiculously short sentences and start committing crimes almost immediately."
It's not clear exactly what the citizenry can do to influence sentences, but Donovan isn't deterred.
"These judges are routinely throwing our neighborhoods into chaos by releasing dangerous criminals onto our streets before they've been even remotely punished for their crimes," he said, offering that judges don't face similar community responsibility because they rarely have opponents in their re-election efforts.
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