Arch-conservative Decide Brian Hagedorn can attribute his current Wisconsin Supreme Court docket victory partially to a gaggle of round a dozen corporations who donated to a corporation that works to elect GOP state candidates, a current ThinkProgress evaluation discovered.
Hagedorn, who has served on the Wisconsin Court docket of Appeals since 2015 when he was appointed by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, beat Decide Lisa Neubauer, a progressive jurist additionally serving on the appeals courtroom, by a razor-thin margin. Neubauer conceded final week’s election for a 10-year time period on Wednesday.
The distinction maker in Neubauer’s defeat seems to have been an enormous last-minute advert marketing campaign from a nationwide Republican group that works to elect conservatives on the state degree.
Hagedorn was a self-described conservative soldier within the tradition wars within the 2000s, writing on his weblog that legalizing homosexual intercourse was akin to selling bestiality. He took hundreds of in honorarium funds for speeches to the Alliance Defending Freedom. He additionally got here below fireplace throughout his 2019 marketing campaign for serving on the board of an elementary college that bans LGBTQ college students, mother and father, and academics.
Although Neubauer had outpaced Hagedorn in fundraising within the closing weeks of the marketing campaign, the Republican State Management Committee (RSLC) swept into Wisconsin within the days earlier than the April 2 election with $1.three million value of TV, radio, mail, and digital adverts urging his election, and tying him to right-wing hero Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The unofficial outcomes point out Hagedorn received by lower than 6,000 votes — 605,728 to 599,768.
Though the tax-exempt RSLC’s Judicial Equity Initiative relies in Washington, D.C., the adverts warned that “radical out-of-state particular curiosity teams” had been spending hundreds of thousands to elect Neubauer and “spreading false assaults towards conservative, rule-of-law Decide Brian Hagedorn, identical to they did towards Justice Kavanaugh.” The initiative’s 2018 funding got here from transfers from the RSLC’s predominant account, which in flip acquired hundreds of thousands from company pursuits.
Based on their filings with the Inside Income Service, the RSLC’s record of company donors contains:
$780,000 from Altria Group, the tobacco firm that makes Marlboro cigarettes and owns Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.
$534,315 from Reynolds American, the tobacco firm that makes Newport and Camel cigarettes.
$475,550 from BNSF Railway, one in every of North America’s largest freight railroad corporations.
$373,147 from GCI Communications, an Alaska-based telecommunications supplier.
$350,000 from Pepperidge LLC, a West Virginia actual property leasing firm.
$350,000 from Contract Drafting LLC, a Wyoming-based firm.
$250,000 from Anthem Inc., a for-profit medical health insurance firm within the Blue Cross/Blue Defend community.
$230,199 from Centene Administration Firm, a managed care well being companies firm.
$225,399 from AstraZeneca PLC, the pharmaceutical firm whose merchandise embody Symbicort, Nexium, and Crestor.
$210,335 from Marathon Petroleum, a big fossil gas firm.
$206,028 from Eli Lilly and Firm, the pharmaceutical firm.
$203,765 from Koch Industries, Charles and David Koch’s petrochemical behemoth.
A spokesperson for Altria famous that the corporate doesn’t take part in judicial elections and expressly instructed the RSLC to not use any of its donations to assist elect or defeat judges. All Altria donations to the corporate include a letter, they famous, that claims: “It is usually our understanding that the funds: (1) is not going to be used to help, immediately or not directly, the Judicial Equity Initiative, or another effort immediately or not directly associated to judicial elections; and (2) shall be segregated from the funding RSLC makes use of for the Judicial Equity Initiative and another program concerned in judicial elections.”
Among the many largest particular person contributions had been $1,000,000 every from billionaire on line casino mogul and conservative mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and his spouse Miriam and $500,000 from hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer.
The slender victory leaves conservatives firmly in charge of the state’s high courtroom, 5 seats to 2. With the best way the courtroom’s phrases are staggered — barring any midterm resignations — conservatives now will management the bulk till at the very least 2023.
That is particularly important in a state with a extremely gerrymandered congressional and legislative map that ensures a GOP majority, even in years like 2018 when extra voters solid ballots for Democratic candidates. With authorized challenges to those maps ongoing in Wisconsin — and extra probably after the 2021 decennial redistricting — there was main incentive for the RSLC to spend closely in 2019 to lock in its management of the state’s legislature for years to come back.
ThinkProgress reached out to the opposite corporations listed above for touch upon their donations however didn’t instantly hear again.