The Koschnick Campaign and their right wing followers, have tried their best to manufacture controversy surrounding contributions from prominent lawyers to Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. The fake outrage stems specifically from contributions by lawyers working at firms that have a case scheduled to be heard before the high court. The first thing that the right wing fails to say is that the contributions are totally legal and that lawyers on both sides of the matter have given to the Chief Justice. Yet another set of facts that they fail to address is whether Koschnick has ever received campaign contributions from lawyers that eventually argued before him.
According to records from the Government Accountability Board, the last time that Judge Koschnick launched a fundraising effort was during his initial run for judge in 1999. Obviously the contribution totals in a small county judicial race is nowhere near the monetary level as it is in a statewide race for the high court. That being said, it still offers us a perspective of what Koschnick did the last time that he was in the situation that he is now finds himself critiquing.
The 1999 campaign finance documents identify at least 8 attorneys that donated to then-candidate for Jefferson County Judge, Randy Koschnick. Of those 8 attorneys, 6 of them went on to have cases before Koschnick after he won that election. Those attorneys are John Dade, Samuel Benedict, Steven Luchsinger, Lee Leverton, Ronald W. Ziwisky and John (Jack) Chavez. Koschnick’s contributions from just these 6 attorneys represent nearly 40 percent of money raised during that campaign. Did Koschnick give back the campaign cash before these cases came before him? Did he notify everyone involved in the cases that some were his donors? If he didn’t do these things, then exactly what is he complaining about now? If he is now suggesting that one cannot receive campaign contributions and still judge fairly, then is he admitting that he didn’t judge these cases fairly?
It also appears that at least one of the above attorneys also had cases before Koschnick in which he was listed as the plaintiff. Ronald W. Ziwisky had at least two eviction cases before Koschnick. In one of them Koschnick actually granted his donors motion for additional monetary judgment against the defendant. Using Judge Koschnick’s current standard, was this appropriate? Did he notify the other parties of the campaign contribution from Ziwisky?
Judge Koschnick and his supporters are exhibiting a good deal of fake outrage and are trying to stir up a manufactured controversy. They are asking all sorts of questions, none of which are directed at themselves or at their ever shifting standards.