JAS: Outside Spending Dominates Wisconsin High Court Primary

Wisconsin_flag_mapOnly a week before Wisconsin’s Supreme Court primary, TV advertising continues to be dominated by the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, which has booked contracts worth at least $399,060, Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice reported on Tuesday.

The Alliance’s advertising supports incumbent Justice Rebecca Bradley.  She faces Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Joe Donald and State Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg in the primary.  Kloppenburg began airing TV ads in recent days and has booked contracts worth at least $96,276;  Donald also began airing TV ads this week and has booked contracts worth at least $31,790. The ads can be viewed on the Brennan Center’s “Buying Time” website.

Reported ad spending is likely to go significantly higher by primary day, and there have been local media reports that spending by the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform could go as high as $1 million.

“Year after year, deep-pocketed special interests push their way into state high court elections with heavy ad spending, and agendas as mysterious as their donor lists,” said Liz Seaton, JAS Interim Executive Director. “Wisconsinites are rightly concerned, and this could be a very good time for election reforms to take politics and campaign cash out of their courts.”

“High levels of outside spending have become the new normal in states around the country,” said Alicia Bannon, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy program. “Unfortunately, campaign finance and recusal rules in Wisconsin have not only failed to keep pace, but have actually become weaker.” The Brennan Center is a JAS partner organization.