- Views & Opinions
Rebecca Bradley, who was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by Gov. Scott Walker over widespread objections, registered a website domain name identifying her as a justice on the court even before applications were due for the appointment were due, according to The Associated Press and other sources.
Bradley, a Walker campaign donor who’s been supported by the same right-wing corporate groups that support him, was seated on Monday to complete the final nine months of Justice Pat Crooks, who died on Sept. 21. She threw her hat into next year’s Supreme Court race Sept. 17, just days after Crooks announced he was retiring.
Walker originally appointed Bradley to every judicial position she’s held since 2012. Prior to that time she had never served as a judge.
In 2013, she ran as an incumbent for a circuit court bench position to which Walker had appointed her. Armed with $167,000 in campaign contributions from the Koch brother’s Club for Growth and the Republican Party, she won with 53 percent of the vote over an experienced candidate.
Critics said Walker gave Bradley a similar boost by allowing her to run as an incumbent in next year’s election. Bradley also is expected to receive big-bucks backing from right-wing groups for her race next April, since her defeat would result in a 3–3 split on the court between conservatives and progressives.
Still, being so strongly identified as Walker’s candidate could cut against her, given the governor’s low polling numbers. The most recent Marquette Law School poll found 57 percent of Wisconsin voters disapprove of the job he’s doing, while only 37 approve. The rest have no opinion.
Bradley faces Fourth District Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Joe Donald on the ballot — neither of whom applied for the Supreme Court appointment.
Bradley’s appointment was the first ever made to an announced candidate for the high court bench. Both liberal and conservative judicial experts had urged him not to taint the court, which already ranks low in the public’s esteem due to prior scandals, by appointing a candidate for the bench.
Apparently, Walker had struck a backroom deal with Bradley even before he announced it. Bradley campaign spokeswoman Madison Wiberg said the website domain name of “justicerebeccabradley.com” was reserved a day before the Oct. 2 application deadline by a vendor “in anticipation of the application process.”
One Wisconsin Now executive director Scot Ross told the Wisconsin State Journal that the domain name registration “is further proof the fix was in from the start.”
“It calls into question what should have been an open, fair process that would maintain an independent judiciary,” Melissa Mulliken, campaign manager for Kloppenburg, told the newspaper. “Instead, it gives the appearance of the kind of cronyism that has defined Scott Walker’s administration.”
Claude Covelli, a Madison attorney who sought the appointment but lost out to Bradley, said it appears that Walker may have instigated a “sham application process.”
Bradley announced her campaign for the full 10-year term on Sept. 17, four days before Crooks died and the day after he said he would not seek re-election.