Monday, July 14, 2008

OWN struggles mightily to bring forth ...

One Wisconsin Now has filed a grievance against Supreme Court Justice-elect Michael Gableman with the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Having failed to interest anyone in filing criminal charges against Gableman, it now wants OLR to investigate disciplinary charges.

Gableman's alleged offense is making phone calls from his office at the Ashland County District Attorney's office (or on a state cell phone) that may have been connected to a fundraiser that he hosted for Governor Scott McCallum.

Thus, the permanent campaign becomes the permanent election. OWN has absolutely no interest in ensuring that no state property is ever used for political or personal business. There is no chance that it would ever scour the phone records of politicians and public officials that it favors. If I dropped records showing that a liberal politician had done the same thing on Scot Ross' desk, nothing would happen.

But a partisan motivation doesn't mean the complaint does not have merit. OWN wants to say that this is just like the legislative caucus scandal in which staffers were hired with legislative funds and then directed to work on campaigns.

The statute that this is supposed to violate is sec. 946.12 which makes it a felony for a public officer "[w]hether by act of commission or omission, in the officer’s … capacity as such officer … exercises a discretionary power in a manner inconsistent with the duties of the officer’s … office … or the rights of others and with intent to obtain a dishonest advantage for the officer … or another ...."
OWN might also argue that, if the calls were made from his office and included political solicitations, then they would violate sec. 11.36(4), a clumsily worded statue that states that "[n]o person may enter or remain in any building, office or room occupied for any purpose by the state, by any political subdivision thereof or by the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority or send or direct a letter or other notice thereto for the purpose of requesting or collecting a contribution."

The complaint is, I suspect, going nowhere. There is no way to determine what was said in these phone calls (Justice Gableman says that he cannot remember but is sure that he made no fundraising calls) and I doubt that OLR is going to file a complaint against a sitting Supreme Court justice based upon a presumption that they "must have" related to politics or included solicitations because they were directed to political people. However reasonable that inference might be, it's going to take more than that.

Beyond let's assume that they involved planning the fundraiser. (That seems to be the most that one could infer.) Should they be considered criminal? Does one really gain a "dishonest advantage" by making phone calls from his or her office? Doing so is rather commonplace.

OWN would like to rely on the cases against legislative leaders like Chuck Chvala and Scott Jensen. In my view, criminalizing the caucus scandal was wrong. But it is one thing to hire staffers with legislative funds and use them on a campaign. It is quite another to make a few phone calls. (Although a jury apparently need not find that even the former violates the statute.

I appreciate the OWN is funded to snap at conservative ankles, but this is a nonstarter.


Display Name said...

Not only that, but Gableman's campaign manager assured us "that Gableman was unaware of the selection process when McCallum tapped him to serve on the Burnett County Circuit Court in late August 2002 -- two months after the deadline to apply for the position."

Follow the logic: Schmitz said "It looks like Louis Butler sent his liberal, special interest friends to do his dirty work for him." Therefore, that must be true. There's little reason to listen to anyone else like OWN who thinks they have the right to investigate. It's not like a campaign manager - or a judge - would lie about something like that, especially if it was something that would be hard to prove.

So what if it looked like Gableman organized a few fundraisers, gave a few thou, and was handed a plum job he didn't apply for? That's just good government. I believe the memo line on his checks to McCallum even said "For strengthening the social fabric."

Those other Republican DAs who applied for the job? When they act shocked and say things like "I think it surprised everyone that the governor went outside the process", that's just sour grapes.

Go ahead and drop those records on Ross's desk. Let's see what you've got. If he doesn't want them, I'm sure we can pass them along to WMC / CFG / AFP / Federalists, if you hadn't given them a copy first.

Dad29 said...

Yah, Rick, but the point is to file the complaint.

That's a brown mark, not a black one. But in 10 years, it's still a mark.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

For every group of hacks on the left who throw everything up on the wall hoping something sticks, there are an equal number on the right.

Anonymous said...

Actually Tosa Voter it is about 3 to 1 leftie groups.

Display Name said...

Well, Fred, some of the "groups" are one guy with a computer, and others are spending millions on commercials, so they're hardly equivalent, are they?

Anonymous said...

OWN has benefactors like every other group. In order to continue to receive the financial support from those donors, they have to show that they are doing something to remain relevant.

Hence, when all realistic avenues of grievance have been exhausted, they concoct stunts like this.

In the world of non-profit, advocacy organizations, things like this are called "deliverables". This is one step above street theater which is usually the last sign that the donors are asking for results and have threatened funding.

Now, I don't know who funds OWN (although I could easily posit a theory), but it is safe to say that continued funding is dependent on such antics and a fight for relevancy.

The conversations between Ross and his donors are probably similar to any salesman... You know the kind, the "just trust us" speech and the "we're building for the long-term battle..."