An Unsatisfying Conclusion to the Mark Green Fiasco

In earlier posts last autumn, found here and here, we note how the case of Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mark Green showed how campaign finance laws can turn into dangerous tools of political chicanery.  The case is finally at an end, with a settlement in which the Democratic majority on the Wisconsin State Elections Board extracted a fig leaf of cover for itself and let Green off the hook – now that Democrat Jim Doyle has been safely re-elected.  The Board, which acted on behest of lobbyists for Governor Doyle to find Green in violation of state law and ordered his gubernatorial campaign to repay nearly a half million dollars, now stipulates:

"[W]hen Green for Wisconsin… converted the disputed funds from Petitioner Mark Green’s federal campaign committee to his state campaign committee on January 25, 2005, it complied with (1) previous Board determinations with respect to similar matters; (2) [Election Board Rule] 1.39, as written and interpreted at the time; and (3) instructions provided by the Board’s staff."

Nice to know, six months after Governor Doyle had a field day accusing Green of violating state campaign finance laws during the campaign.  State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has a sharply worded concurrence for the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s order last week accepting the settlement between Green and the Elections Board and dismissing the case:

"In the midst and aftermath of an important gubernatorial election, this court did nothing to ascertain and enforce rights, or to assure the integrity of the electoral process.  Instead, it used every imaginable pretext to avoid making a decision."

Justice Prosser rips into the Elections Board for its "astounding and disturbing position" and notes that fundamental violations of due process caused by the Board’s retroactive rulemaking.  "To these hard facts," writes Prosser, "the Court has been indifferent."

The events in Wisconsin were a disgrace.  There ought to be heads rolling and resignations, in disgrace, at the Elections Board.  The Milwaukee and Madison papers should be full of indignant editorials.  That they are not speaks volumes about the administration of campaign finance "reform" and the unwillingness on the part of many editorial supporters of the notion that one can have a benign political police to either face or publicize the ugly side of campaign finance regulation.