This morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a little side story to the recent court cases around water pollution resulting from factory farming, particularly large dairy farms housing thousands of cows. It seems one of the judges who recently ruled against big farming has in the past, donated to one of the environmental groups involved in the case…an environmental group who won reimbursement of legal fees from the farm in question in the hearing before the judge.
A judge who has directed the Department of Natural Resources to pay nearly $45,000 in legal fees to environmental groups in a case involving the expansion of a large dairy farm declined to remove himself from the case after disclosing he made past donations to one of the groups.
But now several groups from the right who support big business and oppose environmental regulation are complaining that the judge should have recused himself from the case. One has to question the late date of the complaint since the judge made his contributions known nearly ten months ago as part of the hearing:
The dispute over Markson’s contributions began when he notified parties in the case on Dec. 21 that, as he was making year-end charitable contributions, he realized he made annual contributions to Clean Wisconsin “for many years.”
Markson told the parties he would not make contributions in 2015 and while the case was pending. An attorney for the Justice Department who was representing the DNR said his past contributions raised concerns. She asked Markson recuse himself.
Now here’s the irony (or in this case hypocrisy). Judge Markson apparently donated about $50 per year for a number of years to Clean Wisconsin. So this is several hundreds of dollars. For money he DONATED to a non-profit organization. OMG…it’s a big deal.
Yet when Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices refuse to recuse themselves from major cases that include organizations who provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to their CAMPAIGNS, well of course it’s no big issue.
So let’s see…hundreds of dollar in charitable notations…big todo….hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions…crickets. One might be a bit of gray error…the second one a total red flag.
If you want a more elegant take on this…see Bruce Murphy over at Urban Milwaukee!