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Monday, January 30, 2012

Are Campaign Election Laws Really Unenforceable?

One candidate running for Rock County judge seems to have a rather novel approach to seeking public office that could, during a time of high unemployment, catch on for many folks seeking a steady job.

The problem stems from a challenge of constitutional law regarding the candidate who appears to come up 15 days short of the five year attorney licensee requirement necessary for election, but is pushing forward with his candidacy anyways. The Wisconsin Constitution sets out criteria for people who seek judgeships, it reads...

"To be eligible for the office of supreme court justice or judge of any court of record, a person must be an attorney licensed to practice law in this state and have been so licensed for 5 years immediately prior to election or appointment."

According to this article in the Janesville Gazette, the state's Government Accountability Board appears either unable or unprepared to answer the constitutional question about campaign law and seems more willing to let the voters decide the issue.

Now, whatever the GAB might eventually decide on regarding this particular candidate's election status is not part of my focus. What I find very interesting up to this point in time is the candidate's defense to move forward...

JG Excerpt: (Jan. 29, 2012)
When an election law is unclear it gives way to "the will of the electorate," McDonald said. In other words, if McDonald were to win, the electorate would have made the decision in his favor.

Of course an individual's perception about an election law being "clear" or "unclear" is purely subjective. But what this means, from initial statements and direction from the GAB and the candidate, is that any person can run for any office with total disregard of campaign laws based on any incongruity they so choose. If they win election, the "will of the electorate" issued their verdict on any issues of eligibility that may arise.

I find that concept both fascinating and a mockery of law if the GAB leaves this open ended. Given that call, there is no reason why anybody would be deemed unqualified or exempt from seeking any office they so choose.

There should be dozens of people running for Rock County judge.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you did not post a story about the Gazette unfairly singling out this candidate. They already had two stories on the front page casting McDonald negatively against the other candidates and now this.

Lou Kaye said...

I have a slightly different take on that. I see these over-sensationalized articles on McDonald by the Gazette as "yellow journalism" dramatized to attract sympathy for an "underdog" against the system. My hunch is they favor him. Even the candidate tried to spin comments about his lack of judicial experience as old guard discrimination against his youth. I find this whole situation very disturbing and more proof of the local media circus we live in.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response. But Wow. Just wow.

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