The Wisconsin Center of Investigative Journalism identified at least $210,750 in campaign contributions since 2002 to current state Supreme Court justices from attorneys with cases before the court.
Among the findings in the data:
- Of the $210,750 contributed by the attorneys whose cases reached the Supreme Court, the vast majority -- $188,650 -- went to Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, whose campaign spent nearly $1.5 million on her 2009 reelection campaign.
- The tally for other justices: Annette Ziegler, $8,300; Patience Roggensack, $7,966; Ann Walsh Bradley, $3,260; Michael Gableman, $2,350; and David Prosser, $225.
- Roughly half of the 1,341 cases decided from 2002 to 2013 -- 677 -- involved an attorney donor who gave either before or after the decision. Of these, 138 cases involved attorneys facing disciplinary action from the court. The court also ruled on 120 felony cases, 37 personal injury cases and 31 money judgment cases involving one or more attorney donors.
- When looking only at contributions that came in before a case was decided, 331 cases involved an attorney donor.
- From 2002 to 2013, there were 338 instances in which a justice ruled in a case involving an attorney donor who gave before a ruling, and only eight in which the justice who received a contribution withdrew.
Jake Harper is a Madison-based freelance journalist. He may be reached at email@example.com.
This project was supported by The Joyce Foundation. The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.