Thursday, June 30, 2011

Justice David Prosser Receiving The White Treatment

The similarities between the plight of Indiana's Secretary of State Charlie White and Wisconsin's Justice David Prosser are uncanny. During a tough re-election race earlier this year, Prosser faced questions about tough words he had for one of his female colleagues on the high court during a heated closed conference debate of the court's justices last year by supporters of his liberal opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg. Yes, he acknowledged that he called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "bitch" in front of the other justices, but that she had goaded him into making the inappropriate reference. Abrahamson never filed an official complaint against Prosser, but another justice, Ann Walsh Bradley, told a reporter during his campaign against Kloppenburg this spring about the incident to make the case that he lacked the temperament to serve on the court and to alienate him from female voters. Kloppenburg also accused Prosser of conducting secret meetings with Gov. Scott Walker following his narrow victory over her.

Despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him in the election, Prosser defeated Kloppenburg, who had claimed a narrow victory on the night of the election before all of the votes had been canvassed and certified. Kloppenburg refused to concede when the final tally showed Prosser the victor; instead, she and Democratic partisans suggested voter fraud and not the will of the people had produced a Prosser victory. After a contested recount proceeding, Prosser was declared the clear winner in the race by several thousand votes. The only known case of voter fraud in the race was that of an Indiana man, Tommy Schrader, a Democratic candidate for a council seat in Allen County who somehow managed to register and vote in the election while temporarily residing in a Green Bay homeless shelter. Allen Co. Democrats moved swiftly to remove Schrader from the ballot after he won his primary election campaign for council  to avoid drawing further attention to the case, particularly while the Charlie White election contest proceeding of the Democratic Party was still in progresss. Some have questioned whether their swift action violated Schrader's right to be heard on the allegation that he was not legally residing in Allen County when he ran in the May primary. As far as I can discern, Wisconsin officials have shown no interest in looking into the Schrader matter.

More than a month after the election, the Wisconsin Supreme Court narrowly upheld the constitutionality of a collective bargaining law that had led to a long and sustained walkout by Democratic members of the legislature to block its passage with Prosser siding with the majority of justices backing Gov. Walker's new law to help check government spending, while Bradley and Abrahamson sided with the minority on the court who would have upheld a lower court ruling striking it down. Apparently there was much dissension among the justices over the release of their decision. Abrahamson, as chief justice, suggested the opinion might not be ready for release for another month, which angered Prosser and the other justices who noted the urgency in having resolution of the case before the legislature concluded its budget. What happened next has become a bit of a he said, she said matter.

What is known is that Bradley began spreading a tale of being strangled by Prosser during an angry confrontation in front of other justices. Interestingly, Bradley never filed a complaint or pressed for criminal charges. She instead waited ten days after the alleged incident occurred and following a leak to supportive members of the media to release a statement.

"The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold," she said. "Those are the facts and you can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that's only spin.

"Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren't resolved by competing press releases," she said.

"I'm confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace."
Prosser has declared his innocence and refused to comment further on the matter that is now under investigation by the Dane County Sheriff's department in Madison. Other sources familiar with the altercation say it was Bradley who charged Prosser with fists raised and that he had simply tried to repel her attack. According to the alternative account, Prosser merely placed his hands in a defensive manner on Bradley to restrain her while another justice separated her from Prosser. According to that account, Bradley accused Prosser on the spot of trying to choke her, while another justice spoke up and said, "You were not choked."

What strikes me is that this is a case of one side being unable to accept defeat and conducting nothing short of guerrilla warfare against the opponent to get what they want by hook or crook. Indiana Democrats put forth a set of damning facts aimed at defeating Charlie White in last fall's election. When that failed to move voters, they belatedly contested his eligibility to run for office and succeeded in getting a special prosecutor hungry enough for good-paying work for him and his son that he managed to turn a ham sandwich into a multi-count criminal indictment against White on charges unlike any other Indiana politician has been forced to defend against. The special prosecutor, realizing some might accuse him of doing precisely the same thing he was accusing White of doing, rushed down to the courthouse in the middle of the grand jury proceedings to update his own registered voting address. The Recount Commission unanimously found in White's favor but the name-calling and the specious criminal case against him goes on.

Similarly, Justice Prosser won an election straight up despite all the barbs and mud thrown his way. Post-election challenges failed so now they're building a criminal case against him manufactured by the very person who was trying desperately to oust him from the court in this year's election. And you knew it, the person doing the investigating endorsed Prosser's political opponent in the election. We shouldn't be at all surprised by any of this. After all, we elected a president in 2008 who was trained and schooled in the "get in their faces" approach by his mentor, Saul Alinsky, the modern day founder of the radical left's approach to "in your face" community organizing to advance their socialist agenda.

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