Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Mary Burke’s Gabelman excuse

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Over at RightWisconsin, the invaluable Rick Esenberg explains how Mary Burke may be breaking the law with her campaign ads.

The statute does not give Burke a free pass to republish it and the paper’s headline is pretty close to flat out false. But without regard to that, the clearly communicated message of the ad would seem to be that Scott Walker was alleged to have been involved in a criminal scheme and that the convictions of certain people was related to – and somehow substantiate those allegations.

That is false and Mary Burke knows it. The convictions had nothing to do with what is being investigated in Doe II – “criminal scheme” or otherwise.

Esenberg points out that Burke supporters will have to defend her using the Gabelman defense. While what is implied in the ad is false, each of the ad’s component parts are true. More importantly, the statute, sec. 12.05, may be unconstitutional.

When state Supreme Court Justice Mike Gabelman ran for office, he used those defenses for an ad that attacked former Justice Louis Butler. When the ad ran, a number of conservatives (myself included) criticized the ad.

I will not expect Democrats to suddenly break ranks and criticize the Burke campaign for running an ad that is a lie, nor should anyone expect them to call for Burke to be prosecuted under the state statute governing political campaign advertising. We should not expect them to meet even the low standard of consistency.

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