Wisconsin State Supreme Court Race – Lies, Lies, Lies…

By YeOldeScribe ~ April 12th, 2011 @ 1:00 am

Welcome back to Political Progressives. We’ll be finishing up our coverage of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court Race today, and then hopefully we won’t have much to talk about in WI for awhile (at least until the Budget Repair Bill rears its ugly head. It’s not that we don’t like covering Wisconsin politics – seeing as how Wisconsin is one of the birthplaces if not the birthplace of the Progressive movement, it’s fitting that we spend a good chunk of time covering the events unfolding in the Badger state. However, lately it seems like that’s all we’re doing, so we’d like to broaden our horizons a bit, especially with so much going on in other states, nationally and internationally.

67 of 72 counties in Wisconsin have submitted their official canvassed vote totals, meaning the election is all but assured to be a victory for incumbent Judge David Prosser. JoAnne Kloppenburg, Prosser’s challenger, will likely request a recount, but the difference in votes is so high at this point that it would take a miracle of Nickoulas-esque proportions to tip the scales in the challenger’s favor. Still, we won’t rule it out. If the last week has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Since the election is all-but over, we wanted to cover a rather disheartening aspect of the 2011 State Supreme Court Race in Wisconsin – all the lies that were told. As you can see, both candidates were big liars, as were Political Action Committees and politicians. It seemed like no one was immune from fibbing both before and after election day. Let’s break down the biggest lies told in the last few months:

David Prosser

Prosser’s description of himself as a “Judicial Conservative with a middle-of-the-road record” and his argument that he shouldn’t be associated with Gov. Scott Walker.

Sorry, Judge Prosser. We’re not buying it. There’s no way you go from voting along with Scott Walker 95% of the time while the two of you spent time together in the legislature to being middle of the road. Walker himself will admit that he’s far away from the middle of the road, and he always has been. We’ll agree that you’re a conservative, and maybe even a judicial conservative. But don’t try to say you’re middle of the road. You can’t be both. Either you’re conservative, or you’re centrist. You can’t have it both ways. Speaking of having it both ways, either claim that you’re like Walker and run with it, or don’t make the claim. Early on in the campaign, you issues a press release saying that you would act as a complement to Gov. Walker, and when you were asked to clarify that statement, one of your aides said that your ideology closely mirrored Walker’s. First of all, this disproves your statement of being middle of the road. And second of all, don’t try to jump of the sinking ship S.S Walker and they say you never wanted to ride it in the first place. (Source: PDF File)

“I feel like the victim of a drive-by shooting,”

We’ll be honest and say this isn’t a total lie, but it’s still not true. The idea of you being an innocent victim in this scenario is disproved above. You knew what you were doing when you hitched a ride on Walker’s coattails, and now that he’s not as popular you’d like to bail on him? That doesn’t make you an innocent victim. Sure, people’s anger may be misplaced from Walker onto you, but when you started your campaign by saying you’d be Walker’s complement, it makes it very easy for people to make the logical leap that a vote for you was more of the same. Besides, this quote is taken out of context. Here’s the rest of it:

“Here I am, I’m walking along, I should win this race going away. But I mean, not if people aren’t thinking about what they’re doing.”

Way to say that everyone who votes against you is an idiot or doesn’t know what they’re doing. Nothing instills confidence in a fair and balanced judiciary like a judge who says “everyone who doesn’t vote for me is a dumbass.”

Prosser’s response to it being revealed he called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a “bitch” and that he would “destroy her” – “I have to say, this was not all my fault! There was some provocation here.”

Wow. Just wow on so many levels. First, that he would dare call another justice a bitch/bastard. Second, that he would do it to essentially his boss. Third, that he would do it to a well-respected and overall good justice. Fourth, that instead of owing up to the egregious lapse in judgment, he tried to blame it on Abrahamson and said it wasn’t his fault.

Don’t try this at work, people. We guarantee that if you walk into your place of business and call your boss a bitch/bastard and then try to argue it wasn’t your fault, you will be fired on the spot. Doesn’t matter if s/he has it coming (Abrahamson didn’t) – there are some things you just don’t say, and that’s one of them. But if you’re going to have the cochonnes to attempt such a stunt, at least own up to it afterwards – or apologize like crazy. Don’t go the in between route.

JoAnne Kloppenburg

“Well, I’d like to note first that the PolitiFact concluded that the charge that Justice Prosser prejudges matters that come before the court is true.”

Here’s a hit, Ms. Kloppenburg – if you’re going to try to pull a fast one on a website, don’t try to do it on a political fact checking one that’s won a Pulitzer Prize. Kloppenburg incorrectly stated that PolitiFact rated her earlier statement as “true”. In fact, they rated it as “barely true” (which was generous, actually), noting that she provided no data for her claim and couldn’t name a single instance where Prosser pre-judged a case. Ironically enough, PolitiFact fact-checked Kloppenburg’s new statement and gave it their lowest rating of “pants on fire”.

Kloppenburg declares victory over Prosser after AP’s unofficial results had her ahead by 204 votes.

Here’s another free hint: don’t count your eggs before they hatch. As soon as we read that Kloppenburg had declared victory, we rolled our eyes, fearing that she’d have to eat her words. We’re not psychic or anything, but when 1.5 million people vote in an election and your lead is 204 votes (or .oo6%), you might want to consider waiting until the OFFICIAL results come in before taking your victory lap. This is one thing that Prosser actually got right – the current Justice hasn’t declared victory, and says he won’t until the canvass of the area is complete. For bonus points, we’d hope that he waits until the inevitable recount and investigation of the 14,o00 missing Waukesha votes is complete, but that’s probably wishful thinking. Still, it was a dumb move for her to declare victory based on a microscopic lead taken from unofficial results, and it shouldn’t have happened – especially not for someone running for the highest court in the state.

Citizens for a Strong America

“Kloppenburg is so extreme, she even put an 80-year-old farmer in jail for refusing to plant native vegetation on his farm.”

Once again, our hats off to PolitiFact for busting up this blatant lie before we got a chance to. The story here is essentially comical. First, Kloppenburg wasn’t the judge – she was the prosecutor – so she didn’t put anyone in jail, the judge did. Second, this man is a far cry from an innocent farmer. His land was leaking soil into Marsh Lake. Soil erosion is a serious problem not only for waterways, but for the land itself. The farmer was warned 8 times that he was not in compliance and dragged this entire process out 10 years. He once said, “Hell no, I ain’t doing nothing. You have to prove I am running all that (expletive) dirt into the lake,” and actually tore up the seeding the DNR did on his land. He was found in contempt of court four times, spent five days in jail and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. But Kloppenburg never wanted the man to go to jail. The judge even joking asked if that’s what she wanted after he was found in contempt the third time, and she responded by saying no, that she just wanted the man to pay his fine so everyone could move on.

We understand that PAC’s are a necessary evil, but we really feel like if an ad can be proved as false as this one is, the PAC responsible should be banned from the airwaves for a significant period of time. How these PAC’s get away with lies and slander on the air is beyond us.

Mainstream Media

For publishing the following quote out of context from Waukesha Democrat Ramona Kitzinger: We “went over everything and made sure that all the numbers jived up, and they did.”

Prosser supporters have been parading this quote all week, as if it makes Nickoulas and her methods legitimate. At first glance, it seems to make that argument. However, Kitzinger released a statement today, because she’s none too happy about her quote being taken completely out of context. Here’s a partial quote, but you can read the full statement here:

“Many people are offering my statements at the press conference that the “numbers jibed” as validation they are correct and I can vouch for their accuracy… I don’t know where the numbers Kathy was showing me ultimately came from, but they seemed to add up. I am still very, very confused about why the canvass was finalized before I was informed of the Brookfield error and it wasn’t even until the press conference was happening that I learned it was this enormous mistake that could swing the whole election. I was never shown anything that would verify Kathy’s statement about the missing vote, and with how events unfolded and people citing me as an authority on this now, I feel like I must speak up.”

We thought it strange that a well-respected Democrat would defend Nickoulas. Turns out our suspicions were warranted, because Kitzinger never meant to do so.

Scott Walker

Walker’s Claim that the State Supreme Court Race wasn’t a referendum on him

We can’t find a specific quote from Walker that says exactly this, but the news story was picked up across wire services and local papers without being refuted by Walker’s camp, so until we hear differently, we’ll operate under the assumption the sentiment is accurate. The notion that Walker’s idea is accurate, however, is not. First, this race gathered absolutely zero attention before the Budget Repair Bill debate sprang up, and before Prosser hooked his wagon firmly on the Walker caravan. The biggest and most successful ad run against Prosser was that he’d be a rubber stamp for Walker. Before Walker, Prosser was a 20-point favorite at worst. After Walker, Prosser needed one of his old employees to save his seat on the bench. To say that this race wasn’t about you is delusional thinking. Just because the race was bad news for you and the Republicans facing recall doesn’t mean you can pretend that it didn’t happen or that you weren’t related. Walker was a bigger figure in this race than either of the candidates. Charles H. Franklin, a political scientist at the UW Madison, agrees: “This has really become a proxy battle for the governor’s positions and much less a fight about the court itself,”.

“You have two very different worlds in this state. You’ve got a world driven by Madison, and a world driven by everybody else.”

Last time we checked, Dane wasn’t the only county to vote for Kloppenburg – 30 other counties voted the same way. And as we pointed out in a previous post, Dane County wasn’t even the most partisan county – that distinction belongs to Waukesha County. The idea that only the pot-smoking hippies in Madison voted for Kloppenburg is so far from the truth, it’s downright shameful for Walker to make the claim he did. 50% of the state voted for Kloppenburg. That’s half, Scott. Half your state doesn’t agree with you and your proxy court justices. It’s not just Madison vs. the rest of  the state. It’s (at least) half of the state vs. you. Don’t try to say that the movement against you only stems from Madison, because it doesn’t – only 14 counties voted for Prosser as heavily or heavier than they voted for you, according to this graphic from the Journal-Sentinel. In short – be afraid, Scott. Be very afraid.

Of course, Walker’s statement above was made before the 14,000 votes were miraculously found in Waukesha County, so we’re waiting for Walker to revise his quote to (correctly) read “You have two very different worlds in this state. You’ve got a world driven by Waukesha County, and a world driven by everybody else.”

*crickets*

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