|Pat Roggensack addressing a crowd of people who paid a minimum of $50-$65 each to attend the Jefferson County Republican's annual Lincoln Day Dinner. Photo: Daily Union|
Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack has well-established during her tenure that she is not immune to the lobbyists and legislation-pushers who have so generously supported her campaign. Just this week she appeared at the Republican Party of Jefferson County's Lincoln Day event (at which Senator Ron Johnson likened Democrats to Marxists) but she has refused invitations to attend the nonpartisan citizen-organized forums she has been invited to throughout the state. The message this sends to voters is clear: you don't pay, I don't play.
|Pat Roggensack not sitting in the seat reserved for her at a free and open to the public non-partisan community forum.|
Like the other members of the conservative bloc on the Court, she freely accepts funds from party-affiliated and special interest groups, even those who are directly involved in crafting controversial legislation in Wisconsin. And yet she continues to claim that she is nonpartisan and impartial, and continues to deny dysfunction on the Court and dismiss the import of the physical altercation between Justices Prosser and Bradley . By refusing to acknowledge the blatant facts of her allegiance, she forces voters to question her integrity.
I'm particularly wary of her acceptance of funds from out-of-state contributors like Dick DeVos, who paid $250,000 to stop Walker from being recalled, and whose wife Betsy has been called "the Four Star General of the Voucher Wars." Betsy DeVos leads the American Federation for Children, an education-privatizing outfit that has played a long and very active role in shaping radical legislation under the Walker administration (and beyond) and has contributed millions to electing voucher-friendly candidates (like Senator Alberta Darling and Rep. Robin Vos) in Wisconsin. Betsy DeVos once famously said she "expects a return" on all of her political "investments." Since similar policies are being challenged in other states on the grounds that they are unconstitutional, it's no mystery why people like the DeVoses would want to buy "allies" on our Court.
To me, that is the opposite of how democracy should function, and no self-respecting justice should accept such contributions without simultaneously promising that she would recuse herself from hearing any cases related to the "investments" these funders are paying her to "protect". The Supreme Court must be comprised of people who can be trusted to put their personal politics aside to ensure a system of checks and balances. If special interests can just buy another cog in the Walker machine, democracy is meaningless.
The primary in this election is Tuesday, Feb. 19. Early voting ends Friday. Experts are predicting only 10% of voters will care enough to show up. For justice's sake, I hope this is not true.
For more on Roggensack's ties to special interests, check out this very revealing piece from the Capital Times: "Pat Roggensack's Out-of-State Cash."
For more on why I'm supporting Ed Fallone - a much-needed voice of reason, integrity and justice - in this race, click here.