MADISON, Wis. – For a state Supreme Court candidate who claims to be “nonpartisan,” JoAnne Kloppenburg sure does get around with her partisan friends.
The liberal appeals court judge has made her oft-cited impartiality the centerpiece of her campaign to take down conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley.
“We must elect justices who have the courage and skill to stand up against the partisan politics and special interests that have no place on the court,” Kloppenburg wrote in an op-ed piece published in February in the liberal Capital Times.
During the last debate she insisted that “I am nonpartisan” on three separate occasions.
A look at Kloppenburg’s aggressive fundraising schedule and the people she has surrounded herself with shows the lady doth protest too much.
On Tuesday, the candidate was the star of her campaign fundraiser at Jalapeno’s, a Wausau restaurant. Kloppenburg’s special guest: former U.S. Rep. David Obey. The Democrat retired “bone-tired” in 2011 after a long career in Congress only to join big-shot D.C. lobbying firm Gephardt Government Affairs a few months later.
Obey endorsed Kloppenburg last year, highlighting her far-flung campaigning for the position.
“This is a critically important campaign for Supreme Court and Wisconsin is a big State. She’s already been to every part of it in this campaign and that’s what it takes to win. I am honored to endorse Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court,” Obey wrote on his Facebook page.
Bradley has called out Kloppenburg for her aggressive statewide campaigning and fundraising efforts.
In video obtained by Wisconsin Watchdog, Kloppenburg is seen walking into the Wausau restaurant before her fundraising event. She coldly and quickly walks away from the camera when asked about her “nonpartisan” claims. She does not respond.
“You say that you are nonpartisan but here you are holding a fundraiser with a former Democratic congressman,” an unidentified man tells Kloppenburg. “So you’re not beholden to special interests but you are having a fundraiser with a lobbyist?”
Kloppenburg, who lost a bitter Supreme Court race to conservative Justice David Prosser in 2011, has made the rounds with some of the more connected liberal activists in Wisconsin.
Earlier this month, Mary Lang Sollinger, good friend of President Barack Obama, held a fundraiser for Kloppenburg at her Sherman Avenue home. Contributions were going as high as $1,000 per couple, but the suggested contribution at the door was a mere $90.
“Mary Lang Sollinger knows how to make an impression. Just ask Barack Obama,” Nichols wrote just as Obama was about to take office. “Sollinger invited the then-senator from Illinois to a party at her Sherman Avenue home a little over a year ago, and now she has more invitations to parties celebrating Obama’s inauguration than anyone save the president-elect.”
The piece goes on:
“Sollinger — a former Madison mayoral candidate, community activist and prodigious fundraiser for causes and candidates she believes in — was courted by other campaigns. But she committed to Obama early, and with the sort of passion that, when multiplied nationally, radically altered the course and character of the 2008 campaign.”
Sollinger raised more than $100,000 for the Obama campaign in the “critical early stages of the Democratic nomination race” and became “a member of the national finance committee – the inner circle of Obama fundraisers – traveling on behalf of the candidate to Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania and finally to the Democratic National Convention.”
Now, the Obama fundraiser is raising money for a state Supreme Court candidate with similar ideas about justice.
But Kloppenburg would contend that the company she keeps doesn’t make her a partisan. She reserves that allegation for her opponent, constantly reminding anyone who will listen that the left’s sworn enemy, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, appointed Bradley “three times to three judgeships in three years.” Kloppenburg points to the fact that Bradley will receive strong support from conservatives.
She doesn’t like to mention that she has and will continue to receive strong support from liberals, including big labor, abortion-rights groups and gun-control advocates.
“Thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Democrat candidates and causes as well as support from top Wisconsin unions prove that Joanne Kloppenburg is a Democrat party insider, not an independent judge,” said Pat Garrett, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “Her claims of independence are just talking points that do not stand up to reality.”
Kloppenburg insists she’s the “nonpartisan” candidate.
“Voters expect — and deserve — justices who cannot be ‘bamboozled’ by the partisan agendas that threaten the ability of our court to function as an independent check and balance on the other branches of government,” Kloppenburg wrote.