U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., refers to our current system for financing election campaigns as “legalized bribery.”
Special-interest groups and their executives and allies donate huge amounts of money to candidates and, if those candidates are elected, those interests expect favorable treatment.
Everyone knows this is how our corrupt system works. It’s no mystery. Democrats accuse Republicans of being bought by defense contractors and pharmaceutical corporations. Republicans accuse Democrats of being bought by trial lawyers and teachers unions.
So when the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted a new rule Oct. 28 (now being reconsidered after being rescinded earlier this week) that allows justices to decide cases involving parties that have made substantial donations to their campaigns -- or that have otherwise aided in their election -- it was simply codifying corruption.
Unfortunately, Justice Patience Roggensack tried to portray the Oct. 28 action as an embrace of democracy.
In an opinion piece that appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal, the justice wrote: “Let me explain -- if a person made a lawful campaign contribution and that caused the justice to be disqualified from deciding legal issues presented to the court, all of the other voters who chose that justice because they believed he or she was fair, independent and knowledgeable about the law would have their votes canceled because of the justice’s disqualification.
“Furthermore, a campaign contribution could easily be used as a sword by someone who wanted to disqualify a justice, rather than by someone who supported the justice’s election. In either case, the vast majority of the voters would have their votes in that election canceled because the justice they voted for would be disqualified.”
Roggensack feigns concern for the voters. But she certainly does not respect them if she believes that any thinking Wisconsinite is going to fall for her tortured defense of what is legalized bribery, er, “lawful campaign contributions.”