Monday, February 16, 2009

Fake Outrage, Real Hypocrisy

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.


James Wigderson said...

Speaking of manufacturing, if you're going to manufacture a point at my expense I think the least you could do is actually link to the blog post in question so people can see for themselves that the point of my post was not about Abrahamson's contributors but the hypocrisy of the left, specifically One Wisconsin Now, in not calling for Justice Abrahamson to recuse herself from a case where she has received contributions from the lawfirms involved. Far from manufacturing my point, I document it here:
and the associated press story is here:,0,3178189.story.

For those of your readers that would like to read more of my work, I write a newspaper column that appears in the Waukesha Freeman every Thursday:

as well as my blog, Wigderson Library & Pub:

As always I welcome reader comments.

Cory Liebmann said...


I had this info on the back burner long before you posted your blog about OWN, so it didn't happen because of what you wrote.

This blog wasn't about you specifically. I didn't mention you or your blog or quote you in what I wrote...If I would have, I would have linked to it.

Your blog post wasn't focused specifically on the contribution thing, it was almost totally OWNcentric...I was not addressing that here, so why would I link to a blog that takes my readers in a different direction?

James Wigderson said...

I don't know why you would lie to your readers. Your last paragraph contains a link to another blog criticising one of my blog posts, yet neither of you had the nerve to actually link to what I wrote.

Show some guts. If you're going to criticize what I wrote then link to it so your readers can decide.

Cory Liebmann said...

Wow James, I had no idea that you were this sensitive about linking or I would have just linked to you so that we could both avoid wasting our time like this.

There was no conspiracy here or any lack of guts involved...again, your blog post was not about the same thing as's that simple...and I'm not going to play some blogger link version of "Six Degrees of Separation" with you.

Lie? Come on James...don't get overly dramatic.

Robert Doeckel said...

Wiggy --

Don't you have your own forum that you can cry and complain to an empty room about?

But I do think you're comments belong under this post..."fake outrage."

get a life. Even if the topics were the same (which they're not), why would anyone WANT to link to your right-wing-claptrap?

James Wigderson said...

Cory, I'm trying not to be overly sensitive about this. I just find it silly you would include the attack and then deny your readers a chance to decide for themselves. It's not a "six degrees" of seperation when I am directly criticized. If the point is so tangential to the point you were trying to make, then why include the paragraph with the link attacking me at all?

The sad part is I think you raise an interesting point about the one contribution to Koschnick, and it would have been worth addressing along with Rick Esenberg's blog post about recusal. But there's that stupid, gratuitous slap at me in the last paragraph and I wonder why I should bother.

I realize you've got a job to do and you want to win an election. (By the way, who's footing the bill?) Just show me and your readers the courtesy of allowing them to judge for themselves whether the point is valid.

James Wigderson said...

Downey, I suppose I could be a baby and run back to my blog to complain. And then a bunch of conservative bloggers might link and we can all thump our chests and feel good about how liberal bloggers suck. But I'd rather address it directly with the blogger himself.

If you stick around, you might learn something about courtesy and respect for both sides - in case you ever feel like blogging again.

Cory Liebmann said...

OK James, thanks for letting me know how you felt about it. You took that link as a specific slap at you even though I did not mean it as such. I actually do regret that this has kept us from discussing the more substantive issue that I was originally trying to get at in my blog.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on Wigderson. If we had a public financing system for all candidates for judicial office and could stem the obscene pursuit of cash that one must now undertake, we could completely obviate this ridiculous tempest. By the way, did you do a column in the Freeman and wack your right wing girl for not even recusing herself when her husband held positions on the Boards of Directors' of litigants before her?? I mist have missed it.

James Wigderson said...

Since you ask:

Blog post:

And on public financing of judicial campaigns: