Republican Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly is taking a real beating on abortion. But this contest is far from being a single issue race.
Dan Kelly is struggling with judicial ethics. You see, Kelly has met a pile of cash that was dark enough or corrupt enough to make him turn away. As the ad from his opponent, Janet Protasiewicz, shows, Kelly has a long history of making judicial ethical decisions, even whether he should recuse himself or not, based on money.
Dan Kelly had already broadcasted what he was about during the primary. It was reported that dark money was start flowing heavily into the state. Kelly became giddy at the news and all but started rubbing his greedy meat hooks together in eager anticipation:
Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly has come up with another argument for why he says he's a better choice for conservative voters than rival Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow.
Cash. Specifically, the cash he says he can pull in from outside interest groups that, he suggests, Dorow can't.
While politicians — particularly those running for judicial office — typically shy away from talk of super PACS and outside interest groups, Kelly told a Price County GOP caucus he is in the best position to bring in outside money — a statement that a lawyer specializing in campaign finance said should raise eyebrows.
Kelly had already been a Supreme Court Justice after he was politically appointed by Scott Walker in 2016, despite the fact that Kelly has never been a judge. He ran for his first election in 2020, and lost by more than 10 points.
During that race, Kelly thought it was perfectly fine for him to use the GOP's main office for his campaign headquarters. After he got his butt handed to him, Kelly was perfectly comfortable to continue to work there as a legal consultant for the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW).. One of his first major legal consultations with the RPW
was a $120,000 gig to help them with their decision to submit a slate of fake electors in the presidential election later that year.
Kelly raked in another $110,000 from the Republican National Committee (RNC) for more "election integrity" work. In fact, $40,000 of that came after Kelly announced his candidacy in September 2022.
Keep in mind that Kelly said that if any cases involving the RPW or the RNC came before the Supreme Court, he would consider recusal on a case by case basis. However, lately, he's been trying to weasel his way out of even that little bit of a show of ethics.
But wait, there's more. There's always more.
We haven't even touched all the money he's raked in from other special interest dark money groups, many of which have and will appear before the state supreme court:
Kelly’s SEI also shows his work for Wisconsin-based conservative policy organization the Institute for Reforming Government, for which he wrote a manual urging state lawmakers to conduct more investigations similar to the widely criticized review of the 2020 election conducted by Michael Gableman.
The SEI additionally shows Kelly received at least $1,000 in income from three groups deeply tied to the Republican Party and its legal interests.
The disclosure shows that in 2022 Kelly did work for the Bradley Foundation, an Illinois-based nonprofit called the Liberty Justice Center and the Chicago-based law firm Troutman Pepper.
The Bradley Foundation, based in Milwaukee, is a major contributor to conservative causes in Wisconsin and across the country. The foundation continues to be a large source of funding for the right-wing Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which regularly brings cases to the state Supreme Court and its board of directors includes Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who was heavily involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The report goes on to list several other shady groups that Kelly got money from. Of especial note is that Kelly received $20,000 directly from Richard Uilhein, one of the billionaires who helped buy Ron Johnson's reelection.
That money doesn't include the massive amounts of third party spending that also will benefit Kelly.
In fact, Kelly is relying very heavily on these dark money groups. While Protasiewicz had spent a ton of money on ads, it was just announced today that Kelly made his first ad buy for $70,000.
Is there any doubt that Kelly would be willing to be a rubber stamp for his benefactors?