Rebecca Bradley, whose first day as a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court was Monday, registered a website domain name identifying her as a justice even before applications were due for the interim position to which she was appointed.
Bradley was widely — and accurately — seen as the favorite to be appointed by Gov. Scott Walker to fill out the final nine months of Justice Pat Crooks’ term; Crooks died Sept. 21.
Walker had twice selected Bradley for judicial openings previously and her candidacy for a full 10-year high court term had conservatives’ backing.
Her nine-month appointment gives her the advantage of incumbency as she runs for a full 10-year term on the court in the April 5 election.
She faces 4th District Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Joe Donald — neither of whom applied for the Supreme Court appointment.
Bradley campaign spokeswoman Madison Wiberg said the website domain name of “justicerebeccabradley.com” was reserved a day before the Oct. 2 application deadline by a vendor “in anticipation of the application process.”
One of Bradley’s opponents said the early registration raises serious concerns.
“It calls into question what should have been an open, fair process that would maintain an independent judiciary,” said Melissa Mulliken, campaign manager for Kloppenburg. “Instead, it gives the appearance of the kind of cronyism that has defined Scott Walker’s administration.”
Claude Covelli, a Madison attorney who sought the appointment but lost out to Bradley, said it appears that Walker may have instigated a “sham application process.”
Walker’s spokeswoman Laurel Patrick called Covelli’s claims “absolutely false” and reiterated that Walker followed the typical process he does for all judicial appointments.
One Wisconsin Now executive director Scot Ross said the domain name registration “is further proof the fix was in from the start.”
Bradley announced her campaign for the full 10-year term on Sept. 17, four days before Crooks died and the day after he said he would not seek re-election.
At the time, Bradley was a 1st District Appeals Court judge, a position she held since being appointed by Walker in May.
Walker announced Sept. 28 that he was seeking applicants for the seat with an Oct. 2 deadline to apply. He said Friday in introducing Bradley as his pick that she was the best of the three applicants and that her appointment should not be a factor in voters’ minds on April 5.
Chief Justice Patience Roggensack swore Bradley into office Monday morning. She participated in oral arguments, but did not make any statements or ask questions during the first case, dealing with whether to suspend the law license of well-known Milwaukee criminal defense attorney Gerald Boyle.