Bringing “shame on Gableman” signs to the Supreme
Court debate Saturday, about 25 members of a Wisconsin-based group rallied
against candidate Judge Michael Gableman Friday night for an ad attacking his
opponent, Justice Louis Butler.
According to program director for Citizen Action Wisconsin
Robert Kraig, the group started their protest at 6:15 p.m. in front of Vilas
Communication Hall where the final debate was held, and their goal was to
inform the public about the alleged falsities in Gableman’s ad. The group protested
until the debate started at 7 p.m.
The group has filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Judicial
Commission asking them to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Gableman
and his campaign in putting forward this advertisement.
“We put a complaint into the commissioner because
Gableman ran an ad that told lies about Louis Butler,” said Teresa
Thomas-Boyd, one of the protesters. “He violated the Judicial Code, and we
are protesting that.”
According to the complaint letter sent to Wisconsin Judicial
Commission by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, the ad stated that as a judge,
Butler found a loophole to put criminal Reuben Lee Mitchell back on the streets
after raping an 11-year-old girl. Mitchell later molested another child, the
The letter said the ad then places a picture of Butler next
to one of Mitchell, both black men, and asks, “Can Wisconsin families feel
safe with Louis Butler on the Supreme Court?”
“The real story is that when he was a public defender,
he defended this person 25 years ago,” Kraig said. “He won at one
level but did not get him off. … [Mitchell] served his whole sentence and
then later committed a crime. So the first part of the ad is false and falsely
suggests that [Butler] did it as a judge, when, in fact, he was the public
Kraig said Gableman violated Supreme Court misrepresentation
rules with his misleading ad against Butler.
“Judges are not allowed to deceive the public about
themselves or their opponent when they run for office … or to do anything
that creates an atmosphere of fear,” Kraig said.
Kraig said “this is the worst ad that has ever been run
by a judicial candidate,” adding independent groups often run ads about
other candidates that are similar to this, but it is “the only nasty ad we
have seen from a candidate.”
In the final Supreme Court debate between Gableman and
Butler, Gableman said the ad “fulfilled its primary purpose,” which
was to show the difference between the two candidates and their backgrounds.
In Butler’s last race in 2000, he said taking a candidate’s
background into consideration was fair game. Gableman said based on each of the
two candidates’ backgrounds, he would be tougher on crime because he has
experience in prosecution, whereas Butler was a defense attorney.