COMMENTARY: Judge Flanagan must step aside in voter ID case
By Kevin Binversie
Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan has gone too far.
After signing a petition to force a recall of Gov. Scott Walker, the liberal judge had the audacity to issue a temporary injunction against the state's voter ID law. He signed the recall petition on Nov. 15, the very first day the petitions legally could be signed.
"The very fact that Dane County Judge David Flanagan signed a petition to recall Governor Walker calls today's court proceedings regarding Wisconsin's voter ID law into question," Republican Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Ben Sparks said in a statement.
"To make matters more troubling, Judge Flanagan also lists Melissa Mulliken, a longtime (adviser) to Kathleen Falk, as his campaign manager on his official campaign web page. As such, the Republican Party of Wisconsin will be filing a complaint with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission to investigate this matter further," Sparks said.
Good for them. An investigation is more than warranted. This is a travesty.
Why would Flanagan need a campaign manager when he's running unopposed for re-election on the April 3 ballot? What's there to campaign for? What's there to manage?
Falk, of course, is the union-authorized candidate who wants to take down Walker if a recall election is called, and it's looking more and more likely that it will.
Mulliken dropped Falk as a client, when she signed on with the Wisconsin Education Association Council, that state's largest teachers' union. WEAC is just one of the labor unions, both public and private, that have endorsed Falk in the recall.
They say Dane County politics are incestuous, but this takes it to a new level.
While possibly legal under Wisconsin statutes, one has to question Flanagan's ethics for presiding over the case in the first place while keeping secret the fact that he signed the recall petition.
Flanagan’s ruling today should be stayed, until another judge can handle the case.
Liberals like to scream that state Supreme Justice Michael Gableman should recuse himself for reasons of ethics. It’s hard to see how those same people calling for near non-stop recusals by Gableman can turn around and say Flanagan did nothing wrong here.
Since a federal ruling in 2010, judges in Wisconsin legally can join political parties. However, they cannot openly make endorsements in partisan elections, or raise money or solicit campaign donations under a party banner. Isn't signing a recall petition tantamount to an endorsement? At a minimum, it's a public broadcast of his bias against Walker.
The federal ruling did not give judges the right to turn the courtroom into their own playground where they come to prejudge, not to judge. There's no impartial judiciary here, folks — just more liberal game playing.
Kevin Binversie is a Wisconsin native who has been blogging on the state’s political culture for more than eight years. He has served in the George W. Bush administration from 2007-2009, worked at the Heritage Foundation and has worked on numerous Wisconsin Republican campaigns in various capacities, most recently as research director for Ron Johnson for Senate. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.