Shill:  A shill, plant or stooge is a person who helps a person or organization without disclosing that he or she has a close relationship with that person or organization. Shill typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that he or she is an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) that he or she is secretly working for. The person or group that hires the shill is using crowd psychology, to encourage other onlookers or audience members to purchase the goods or services (or accept the ideas being marketed). Shills are often employed by confidence artists.

Rick Esenberg is, and always will be, a partisan hack.  A mouthpiece trotted out before the press by the state GOP to render his “opinions” on a variety of topics that affect the lives of the people of Wisconsin.  The trouble is, Professor Rick is a lawyer, and his opinions are different from yours or mine.  I don’t mean that he holds different opinions, I mean that his opinions are part of his job as an attorney.  When he is asked to “render an opinion,” he is bound by the canons of ethics for lawyers in Wisconsin.  Lawyers are paid and expected to render opinions based on the facts and not on the party line.  In his zeal to play the slavish lapdog to his Republican masters, he sometimes forgets this.  He and Michael Gableman share this trait.  But Professor Rick has never been bothered by ethical conflicts in the past, so why should he start now?

He can be guaranteed to toe the party line each and every time.  The GOPs pet law professor.

So it’s always satisfying when he gets his ass handed to him in public by Peter Earle. Watch from a hearing on redistricting from July, 2011.

What makes this video so disturbing (and it is disturbing) is that, at the time, Peter Earle wondered publicly what information Professor Rick might have had access to that the rest of the hearing participants did not.  How was Professor Rick able to render a legal opinion on data in such a short period of time?

Well silly me for thinking the GOP would ever play by the rules of governance.  As it turns out, Voices de la Frontera, Earle’s client at the time, have now filed a complaint with the state that the GOP violated the open records law in their redistricting process.

Documents released yesterday showed that virtually all G-O-P lawmakers signed confidentiality agreements which promised not to discuss the maps while they were being written. And they were told that those who speak out could be called as witnesses in court. The documents also said that 33-of-the-58 Republican Assembly members would pick up additional voters under the new districts. The documents were released after three federal judges in the redistricting suit said G-O-P legislators filed frivolous legal requests, so they could hide their actions in creating the new maps. Those maps will be used for the first time in this fall’s elections unless the courts overturn them.

The complaint states, in part:

On June 20, 2011, Adam Foltz drafted a document captioned “General Talking Points” which he described during his sworn testimony on February 1, 2012, as talking points to guide the discussion at each of the individual meetings he had with each member of the Assembly who had previously signed a secrecy agreement.  The talking points memo stated that the redistricting bill was a “placeholder map” and that “if the Senate comes back in the majority, we may come back and adjust.”  Mr. Foltz testified at his deposition that the preceding sentence was referring to the then pending recall elections that were scheduled for August 9, 2011.  The talking points memo also stated that “Public comments on this map may be different than what you hear in this room.  Ignore the public comments.”  The talking points memo then explicitly stated that the previously signed secrecy agreement applied to the individual meeting between Mr. Foltz and each individual Republican representative….  (emphasis in original)

The complaint asserts that this entire process is a violation of the Open Meetings law, a law these clowns have tripped over in the past.

So the real question I have is what did Professor Rick know and when did he know it?  He certainly seemed to have some special knowledge back in July to which no one else was privy.  He rendered an opinion of the fairness of the redistricting.  We’re left with only two conclusions:

1. Professor Rick is incompetent and rendered a legal opinion on a limited understanding of the facts in evidence
2. Professor Rick is corrupt and rendered a legal opinion on preferential access to facts not in evidence

Which is it, Professor Rick?  Take your pick…

12 Responses to The Once and Future Shill

  1. gnarlytrombone says:

    At the time the perfesser sniffed that he hadn’t heard of Peter Earle.

    Seeing that Earle has now managed to disgorge the Fitz omerta contract and Ese failed miserably in his frivolity against the Wisconsin 14, I think I’d go with the sniffee.

  2. Steven Reynolds says:

    Powerful post, Phil. Bravo. This should be seen as part of the evidence in the lawsuit.

  3. Phil Scarr puts Prof Ricks ass on a hotplate! My day just got better.

  4. Before you accuse people of things and call them names, you ought to do your homework. Of course, since your post expresses a judgment about me as a lawyer and you, of course, are wholly unqualified to express a opinion on that topic, I guess you really can’t do the required home work.

    So, let me help you. Given that Marquette Law School pays me to teach Election Law and I have published scholarship in the area in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, the Wake Forest Law Review and the Election Law Journal, I think I might know what I’m talking about. Reasonable lawyers may not always agree with me, but I’ll put my professional and ethical record up against anyone.

    In this particular case, the answer to your question is “neither.” The correct response would be that Peter was wrong and, quite frankly, a tad unprofessional in his partisan fervor. I responded to his remarks at the time and revisited the topic of redistricting on my blog today. I did not need to know more than I did to express the particular opinions that I gave. If you want to try to understand why, you can read my response to Peter’s remarks and today’s post.

    My remarks had nothing to do with the fact that the GOP controlled the legislature. In fact, I wrote a post on the MULS Faculty Blog and an op-ed in the Journal Sentinel before the election in which I said that, if one party controlled state government, they would be able to write a plan that enhanced their electoral prospects without much risk of a judicial challenge.

    As far as whether I knew some information that was not available to everyone else, the answer is no.

    But, anyway, thanks for spelling my name right.

    • gnarlytrombone says:

      Before you accuse people of things and call them names, you ought to do your homework

      Perhaps you’ll extend the courtesy to Xoff & Rowen next time.

    • John Foust says:

      I’ve reread the Prof’s comment a few times but I don’t see the part where he explains that he’s not a shill for shadowy patrons.

    • Zach W says:

      I guess I should be impressed by your resume and background, but I’m not. You’re a partisan shill – nothing more, nothing less.

      No amount of touting your resume and background changes that fact.

    • Phil Scarr says:

      I do so enjoy it when incompetent people recite their resume at me as if it’s a justification for their logical failures. Frankly, were I you (and I thank the gods daily that I’m not), I would not be so cavalier about parading my credentials around in public.

      Not only is it tacky, this practice of self-aggrandizement (akin to a puffer fish attempting to frighten predators with his empty, inflated body) will cause people to wonder what sort of catastrophic selection failure occurred at these recited institutions which provide you the support you so obviously have not earned but to which you so obviously feel entitled.

      It is not your bona fides that are at issue here, sir, it is your ethics.

  5. Jeff Simpson says:

    You might be a very credentialed lawyer, et al… But wow do you not understand democracy!

  6. Prof Rick,

    You must be feeling a bit touchy to come over slummin’ at Blogging Blue? Any word yet on whether 5000 people signed Walker recall petitions an average of 25 times?

    http://bloggingblue.com/2011/12/14/professor-esenberg-channels-emily-litella/

  7. Zuma Bound says:

    @ “Professor” Esenberg

    “Professor” Esenberg wrote: “Of course, since your post expresses a judgment about me as a lawyer and you, of course, are wholly unqualified to express a opinion on that topic, I guess you really can’t do the required home work.”

    Zuma: Get the Eff over yourself, you pompous, condescending windbag! Stupid and unethical is as stupid and unethical does. “So, let me help you”, apart from the fact that Phil Scarr does, indeed, do his homework, and apart from the fact that he happens to have infinitely more brainpower than you will ever hope to have, you just don’t have to be on the faculty of Marquette University School of Law (*chorus of angels singing*) to recognize that.

    “Professor” Esenberg wrote: “So, let me help you. Given that Marquette Law School pays me to teach Election Law and I have published scholarship in the area in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, the Wake Forest Law Review and the Election Law Journal, I think I might know what I’m talking about.”

    Marquette University Law School?! (Oh, my Lord, THAT just gives me the vapors” – *laughing*). Seriously?! Maybe if you actually taught at Harvard, rather than just snuck an article into one of its publications once upon a time, you could puff your chest out a little bit. . .Maybe. But, you don’t, “Professor”, do you. So, just STFU already, you condescending, provincial little twit. AND try to remember that the guy patting you on the back so enthusiastically, and saying, “Atta boy”, to you is you. Perspective, “Professor”, perspective.

    In any event, “Professor”, you employ a logical fallacy in suggesting that simply BECAUSE you have been published once in an important professional publication EVERYTHING that you have ever said, written and/or done is therefore right, and that EVERYTHING that you have ever said, written and/or done has therefore been ethical. You’ve been caught with your pants down. Why not just take it like a man, instead of resorting to logical fallacy smoke screens and condescension, huh?

    “Professor” Esenberg wrote: “I think I might know what I’m talking about.”

    Well, “Professor” (and I DO mean that in the pejorative sense), YOU, in all of your provincial glory, may think so. The rest of us? Not so much. But, thanks for playing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.