Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dick Armey Declares War On Wisconsin's High Court

As the Democracy Campaign reported in an e-mail update earlier this month, a national Republican front group run by former House GOP leader Dick Armey of Texas is about to launch an offensive aimed at influencing the makeup of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Armey's group plans to spend $2 million to unseat conservative Justice Patrick Crooks, who angered right-wing interests with rulings on medical malpractice and product liability cases.

The source of the millions Armey plans to raise to defeat Crooks will be carefully concealed. His group flies below the radar, engaging in campaign practices allowing it to sidestep both federal and state reporting requirements.

Armey's army won't be alone in this battle. Big business lobby Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce also plans to weigh in heavily in the campaign to throw out Crooks. WMC is soliciting corporate contributions from member companies for a "Job Defense Fund" it will use to engage in anti-Crooks electioneering.

WMC also will have to take pains to dodge state and federal campaign disclosure laws because reporting the source of funds would reveal the corporate contributions, which are illegal under both federal law and state law in Wisconsin.

This effort to buy justice is part of a rapidly growing national trend. The Institute on Money in State Politics has released a new report showing that special interests raised more than $19 million to air ads in state Supreme Court races in six other states, with about three-fourths of the money coming from contributors interested in the issue of limiting liability in lawsuits.

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