In recent weeks we have learned much more about Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick. First The Lost Albatross reported that he had used his courthouse desk phone to call extremist right wing groups like Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) and the rabidly anti-gay Wisconsin Family Council. That blog also revealed that he used his state email to contact WRTL, who eventually endorsed him in his run for the state Supreme Court. This week the Capital Times took an even deeper look at Koschnick, while also confirming much of The Lost Albatross report. These recent developments and Koschnick’s apparent extremist views have rightfully caused people to question his judgment. One thing that has not been explored as much has been whether he broke any rules in using official communications to contact people and groups that are clearly now the very core of his campaign’s support.
After all of the drama in Wisconsin regarding campaigning on state time with state resources, one would think that a public official would stay as far away from any such perception as possible. If I were a public official and planned on running a campaign for higher office, I would go out of my way to avoid any appearance of using taxpayer funded time and resources to promote that effort. Apparently judge Koschnick does not share those standards.
As has already been reported, leading up to his announcement to run for the state Supreme Court he used his official courthouse phone to call several organizations that have been politically active in our state. Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) regularly endorses the most right wing candidates for example. So just as he is planning his campaign for state Supreme Court, Judge Koschnick just happens to find a reason to repeatedly call his local WRTL contact from his official phone? Not only did Judge Koschnick use his official phone to call this political ally but he also used his state email to talk about how he would be introduced during one of their upcoming events. The WRTL contact suggests an intro including the fact that he is going to be running for state Supreme Court. Again, using his state email, Koschnick signs off on the proposed intro that some might consider a promotion of his upcoming campaign. As we now know, WRTL ended up officially endorsing Koschnick.
As if the above example isn’t enough, Koschnick again shows that he is particularly tone deaf when he signs up to receive Google Alerts for “Koschnick Supreme” to his state email account. Exactly how is this NOT campaign related? How is this an appropriate use of taxpayer funded time and resources?
At the very least Koschnick's use of these resources and taxpayer funded time is questionable. Surly any ethics expert would suggest that his behavior enters a gray area that should be avoided. Given the many ethics problems that have been raised over the last several cycles, do we really want someone added to the high court that is so comfortable dancing right up to the ethical line? The bottom line is that these communications are at least questionable and apparently so is Koschnick’s judgment.