Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race heats up as enviro-ideologue candidate accuses conservative of judicial activism

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Wisconsin’s labor unions are still throwing unwavering support behind environmentalist attorney JoAnne Kloppenburg as she faces conservative Justice David Prosser in what appears to be an effort to attack Gov. Scott Walker by proxy. What most union members don’t know about Kloppenburg is that she has a long history of far-left wing legal activism.

Kloppenburg, currently the state’s Assistant Attorney General and previously an attorney for Wisconsin’s version of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is campaigning against Prosser by accusing him of judicial activism using a “partisan approach.” The state has seen a slew of nasty advertisements from both sides, but Kloppenburg opened the door first.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee paid for a pro-Kloppenburg ad that accused Prosser of supporting a sex-offender priest. Using a story of two brothers, the advertisement suggests Prosser chose to protect a Catholic priest accused of touching young boys inappropriately to protect the priest – and says Prosser helped move the priest to a new church in a new community.

WATCH: Pro-Kloppenburg ad accuses Justice David Prosser of going easy on a sex offending priest:

“A priest sexually abuses children for 30 years across Wisconsin, a mother tells D.A. David Prosser her two young sons were sexually assaulted,” the pro-Kloppenburg ad’s announcer says. “What does Prosser do? Prosser refuses to prosecute, doesn’t even ask the police to investigate.”

WATCH: Pro-Prosser ad discounts JoAnne Kloppenburg’s supporters’ claims about the sex offender priest:

Citizens for a Strong America shot back with a pro-Prosser ad in which one of the two brothers Kloppenburg used tells viewers why he supports Prosser and how Justice Prosser brought his family justice. “With the help of David Prosser and law enforcement, we brought our abuser to justice,” Troy Merryfield, one of the brothers who was sexually abused by his priest, says in the ad. “Now, we’re being victimized again. This time, JoAnne Kloppenburg’s allies want to use our pain for their own gain. I asked JoAnne Kloppenburg to try and stop these false ads. JoAnne Kloppenburg refused. It’s just wrong.”

The Tea Party Express has spent upwards of $150,000 on advertising and outreach efforts in favor of Prosser. Tea Party Express chairman Amy Kremer said the group is launching a “Phone From Home” campaign this week.

“Phone From Home is something we developed with great success during the Republican primaries last summer,” Kremer said in a statement. “We utilize our membership of 350,000 to contact Wisconsin residents and encourage them to vote on Tuesday.  A personal phone call is more powerful than any ad on TV, and our vast network of conservatives are an extremely influential and active force.”

Kloppenburg’s latest attack on Prosser is that she thinks he approaches his judicial decisions with a “partisan approach.” Kloppenburg maintains she’s impartial, even though she has made donations to Democratic candidates – Federal Election Commission records show she’s donated $3,500 to former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and $200 to Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.

Kloppenburg has used her legal authority to pursue political outcomes as well. For instance, in 1997, the number of hazardous waste claims and general environmental crimes claims dropped significantly, but she remained convinced there were still “midnight dumpers” throughout Wisconsin.

“There is no doubt environmental compliance has come a long way,” she told the Wisconsin State Journal in February 1997. “But it defies belief to say there are no midnight dumpers out there.”

Kloppenburg recently drove a restaurateur out of business because his building was too close to a waterfront – and has shown an affinity for similar cases in the past. In 1998, she went after a woman for building a deck addition to her 1936 home that ended up being 11 feet too close to the waterfront – a violation she had received prior approval for from her local government.

In 1995, Kloppenburg opposed compensating landowners when previously usable land was rezoned at wetlands. A state court ended up ruling against her, but she adamantly opposed it.

More recently, in 2004, Kloppenburg insisted a couple move their entire house 18 feet further away from a creek it was near, and offered no state reimbursement for the estimate $50,000 it would cost.

In 2001, Kloppenburg forced a condominium to shorten its 10-year-old pier by 30 feet and eliminate 11 boatslips – that caused property values to decline by as much as 30 percent.

Kloppenburg opposed allowing Native Americans in Wisconsin to control their own water quality standards as well and she favored a 900 percent increase in trash taxes — from 30 cents per ton to $3 per ton.

Also, Kloppenburg has unsuccessfully applied to get on a judicial bench in 2000, 2003 and twice in 2009. She also unsuccessfully applied to become a Madison city attorney in 2004.