January 8, 2012

The Journal-Sentinel's Rick Esenberg Disclaimer

I see David Haynes and the mandarins on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board have added a disclaimer to Marquette University Law School professor Rick Esenberg's attempt at defending Mike Gableman's reported acceptance of a gift or favor from Michael Best & Friedrich, to the effect that Esenberg recently presented oral argument before the court on which Gableman sits. Judges are prohibited by the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct from accepting gifts or favors from lawyers or firms if they have or are likely to come before the judge.

That's a relatively innocuous disclaimer compared to Esenberg's prior relationships with the Gableman political campaign. Esenberg appeared in a video produced by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce which was distributed at a series of WMC luncheons in 2008. Rick Esenberg's former research assistant at Marquette, Daniel Suhr, assembled a "white paper" criticizing the record of former Justice Louis Butler — perhaps the only actor deserving of the appellation "honorable" in this whole sordid affair — the misrepresentations of law contained in which Esenberg strenuously defended at his blog, where Esenberg also repeated and purported to rationalize some of the sleaziest accusations against Justice Butler.

And Rick Esenberg's Bradley Foundation-funded Kulturkampf boutique law firm, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, hired Tom Kamenick, a former clerk of Gableman's, as an associate. It's like incest but without the sex. Given the foregoing, the Journal-Sentinel's disclaimer is a bit of a joke. The fact that Esenberg argued a case before the Supreme Court isn't such a big deal, unless you realize what case it was, which the Journal-Sentinel's disclaimer doesn't identify.

The case is Wisconsin Prosperity Network v. Myse and Esenberg presented the argument instead of James "Carried ... feet first" Troupis, who represented Justice David Prosser during the latter's political campaign last spring. It's also the case from which Prosser disqualified himself in September, 2011 apparently after being pressured by the Journal-Sentinel's reporting, even though this blog had pointed to the potential conflict of interest as early as the previous April.

Speaking of which case, Prosser and Gableman literally rewrote the Wisconsin constitution to grant an injunction in 2010 in favor of the plaintiffs, a who's who of conservative Republican activists, the granting of which was executed even before the court had decided whether to take jurisdiction of the case. A decision is forthcoming in Myse but a date hasn't been announced. This blog wondered several weeks ago how a divided court is going to address the posture of that injunction.

The Journal-Sentinel is a wholly owned subsidiary of Journal Communications, Inc., which itself is in effect a wholly owned subsidiary of the WISGOP. The transparency of these relationships is remarkable.

But yeah, thanks for the illuminating disclaimer. Great public service.


Anonymous said...

So since Esenberg didn't do any legal work like McLeod/MBF, he's just a suck up, and if he writes a nice little letter maybe he can get a favorable ruling?

illusory tenant said...

Esenberg and Troupis filed a frivolous action in Oconto County that laid the supposed groundwork for Scott Fitzgerald's ersatz "arrest warrants" against the 14 Democratic Senators who decamped to Illinois. They didn't get what they wanted from the circuit court but claimed they did in Troupis's famous "carried ... feet first" legal memorandum to Fitzgerald. And Esenberg claims he isn't a "political operative," another joke.

jimspice said...

So let's write our own disclaimer and post it in the comments as soon as we see an Esenberg column posted.