Surprise: Wisconsin Journalists, Judges Signed Walker Recall Petitions

Guy Benson

3/27/2012 9:18:00 AM - Guy Benson

Let's start with the judges, since their story is slightly older news:
 

Twenty-nine Wisconsin circuit court judges were among the thousands to sign recall petitions against Gov. Scott Walker, a Gannett Wisconsin Media analysis has found. Dane County Judge David Flanagan drew scrutiny after issuing a temporary restraining order March 6 against a Walker-backed voter ID law without disclosing his support of the recall, but the analysis shows that judges in 15 other counties also signed petitions, including Door County Circuit Judge D. Todd Ehlers. Walker supporters were outraged that Flanagan did not disclose his apparent conflict and filed ethics complaints against the judge. However, judges who signed the petition and agreed to interviews defended their decision as constitutionally protected and not explicitly banned by the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct.


One judge tried to make the argument that his action was non-partisan.  Again, this man is a judge:
 

I wasn’t advocating for any political party,” said County Judge Mark Warpinski. “I was advocating for the recall process, which I thought was completely separate and apart.”


None of this impressed the editorialists at The Northwestern, who lamented the extreme politicization of Wisconsin's judiciary:
 

A Gannett Wisconsin Media watchdog journalism report in Sunday's Northwestern found at least 29 circuit court judges in Wisconsin signed recall petitions against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Although they may have not violated the letter of Wisconsin's code of judicial conduct, the judges certainly violated its spirit. The recall signatures are another troubling sign of the politicization of the judiciary that threatens to undermine basic trust and confidence in judicial branch, from the stately Supreme Court chambers in Madison to the circuit court level where justice is handed out in 72 counties across the Wisconsin. The shocking break down in civility and malaise at the Supreme Court may be spreading throughout the system when judges think signing a recall petition is wise, prudent or nonpolitical.


The Gannett news group's Wisconsin investigative team broke this story -- and kudos to them -- but perhaps they should have started with a little internal policing of their "journalistic" brethren:
 

Twenty-five journalists with the Gannett media group in Wisconsin signed a petition calling for the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, according to a Green Bay newspaper where some of those journalists work.   Kevin Corrado, publisher of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, disclosed the actions of Gannett Wisconsin Media employees in a recent column and said they are facing disciplinary action.  "It was wrong, and those who signed the petition were in breach of Gannett's principles of ethical conduct," Corrado wrote.


Judges and journalists are supposed to be society's referees.  In Wisconsin, they've been trading in their black robes and press credentials for blue pom-poms.  The recall election, meanwhile, is expected to take place in early June.  Public support for ousting Walker has slackened considerably as the governor's controversial budget fixes have begun working as promised.  I'll leave you with a clip that made the rounds last week, but didn't quite justify a separate post in my estimation.  What you'll see is some disgruntled union types singing anti-Walker slogans from Big Labor hymnals, only to be drowned out by chants of "stand with Wal-ker!" from a sizable group of high school students who happened to be visiting the State Capitol:
 


This prompted union members to place "menacing" phone calls to the school the following day:
 

“Friday morning, we had a couple of nasty phone calls all of a sudden,” said Jim Pingel, Lutheran’s executive director. “People identified themselves as union leaders, protesters. They were passive-aggressive, menacing.”  Liberal activists called the school to complain, and conservative talk radio hosts have spent days discussing the students’ actions.


Remind me: Who were the children in this situation, again?