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David Prosser

Justice David Prosser

STEVE APPS - State Journal

This week we learned that Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has renamed his campaign finance account the "Prosser Defense Fund."

And the state elections watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Board, has no problem with the switch — or with Prosser using money from the account to fight allegations that he violated judicial ethics rules when he put his hands on the neck of fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley last year.

But we also learned that Prosser's defense fund is about as broke as OTC.

His latest finance report, filed with GAB on July 20, shows that he had just $1,144.60 in it, and still owed about $229,000. Ouch.

Prosser told OTC that he didn't owe any money immediately after he won his April 2011 reelection bid, but that the ensuing statewide recount cost his campaign several hundred thousand dollars. Defending himself against the ethics charges hasn't been cheap either, he added.

Prosser said he originally had asked the GAB if he could set up a legal defense fund and was told "no." That's because Wisconsin statute only allows government officials to seek or obtain contributions to so-called defense funds only if they are being investigated for or charged with a violation of either campaign finance or other election laws. So Prosser said he decided to rename his account in an effort to fight the allegations over the incident with Bradley, adding that he is not independently wealthy and can't cover the expenses on his own.

Prosser believes his fellow Supreme Court justices cannot hear the case — an argument he has made repeatedly in court documents, saying that the others were either witnesses or are biased against him. As a result, he can never be convicted, nor will he ever be able to completely clear his name with an acquittal, he said.

Prosser said the situation has cost him about $40,000 in personal expenses, and he accused the Wisconsin Judicial Commission of trying to drain his finances.

"If I hated you and wanted to cause you as much grief as possible, if you are not independently wealthy, the best way to get you is to get you to eat up your assets," Prosser said.

James Alexander, the judicial commission's executive director, called Prosser's allegations false.

"It's totally meritless, and I find it shocking that he would make such an unfounded, outrageous allegation against the Wisconsin Judicial Commission," Alexander said. "There's no truth to it."

Strange music fellows

File this one under strange, but true.

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, held a rally this week with Ted Nugent, the former rocker, well-known conservative activist and author of melodic (cough) masterpieces like "Stranglehold" and "Wango Tango."

Not to be outdone, fellow candidate Eric Hovde, a millionaire hedgefund manager who spent most of his adult life in Washington, D.C., will share the stage Aug. 1 with Rodney Atkins, a country music artist and who has recorded songs like "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)" and "Farmer's Daughter."

So, given these strange musical-political pairings, we can only assume the other Republican candidates for Senate will have to step up their game. Perhaps former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann could take the stage with Green Day and maybe state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald could perform with Katy Perry.

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State Government Reporter for Wisconsin State Journal

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