In the proverbial case of a flashing VCR being right exactly once a year, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (via the Captial Times) looked through the electronic versions of campaign finance records for the 6 current Justices who raised enough money to be required to file their campaign contribution records electonically to try to determine who was most-influenced by donations from lawyers with immediate business before the Court. That look excludes Justice Patrick Crooks as he did not raise enough money in his 2006 unopposed election bid. Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson was easily the biggest recipient of the current Court members of campaign contributions from “donor attorneys” appearing to seek influence on cases they had before the Court at the time of donation, pulling in $188,650 from “donor lawyers” between July 2002 and June 2013. That was well ahead of second-place Justice Annette Ziegler’s $8,300.
Notably, Abrahamson was more likely to side with “donor attorneys” when they gave her campaign more money – while she sided with donors 58% of the time overall, “big-money” donors who gave her at least $1,500 just before or just after their cases were heard won her support 71% of the time.
Meanwhile, the Left’s favorite whipping boy, Justice Michael Gabelman, who took in $2,350 from “donor attorneys”, sided with them twice in four cases. That amount is just over half of what just one attorney who appeared to rent-seek from Abrahamson donated to his opponent, then-Justice Louis Butler.
The only current Justice, other than the unchecked Crooks, who took in less than Gabelman was Justice David Prosser, who received $225 from “donor attorneys”. While the WCIJ didn’t note this, his campaign was the only one hamstrung by the since-eliminated limits on fundraising and spending on judicial campaigns imposed right after Abrahamson won re-election.