Even though state Supreme Court candidate Michael Gableman has been caught in a lie that he curiously will neither confess nor stop repeating, it is the phony front groups and special interest organizations that are doing almost all of the talking in this year's high court race and they are traveling the lowest of low roads.
Some of the ads peddle outright lies. One claims incumbent Louis Butler overturned a murder conviction despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, but neglects to mention that new DNA evidence seriously undercut a key part of the prosecution's case. Both anti-Butler ads and anti-Gableman ads have gotten the facts wrong or have been found unfair or misleading.
But the dishonesty in the campaign advertising isn't limited to such twisting of the facts. A significant part of the deception is simply the subjects the ads focus on in the first place. By far the most common advertising theme is crime fighting. What these law-and-order ads don't tell viewers is that the Supreme Court deals almost exclusively with civil cases, not criminal ones, and almost all criminal cases are decided in lower courts.
What's more, the groups sponsoring these ads call them "issue advocacy," but more times than not the issues they are advocating on are not even on their agendas. Like most of the TV spots, ads launched by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce focus on crime fighting. Yet if you look at WMC's legislative agenda, fighting crime is nowhere to be found. And if you look specifically at WMC's agenda for reforming the legal system, again there's no mention of making sure our streets and neighborhoods are safe.
Other big advertisers in the Supreme Court race are similarly keeping the public in the dark about their real motivations for backing a particular candidate. Their so-called "issue advocacy" is a hoax. They are trying to buy the court, pure and simple.