Holder campaigns for Dallet, GOP files complaint

March 16, 2018

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder completed a two-day visit to Wisconsin on Friday to stump for state Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet, urging University of Wisconsin-Madison students to vote for her.

Holder’s visit to campus came at the same time the state Republican Party asked the Judicial Commission to investigate whether Dallet, a Milwaukee County judge, improperly solicited and accepted donations from attorneys with pending cases before her. Dallet’s campaign dismissed the complaint as baseless.

Dallet faces Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock in the April 3 election. Screnock is the pick of conservatives, while Dallet is backed by liberals, including Holder’s group the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The state GOP, which filed the complaint against Dallet, has spent at least $110,000 to help Screnock’s campaign.

The winner will get a 10-year term to replace conservative Justice Michael Gableman, who did not seek a second term. The court is currently controlled 5-2 by conservatives.

Holder’s group works to eliminate GOP-drawn legislative maps and has sued Republican Gov. Scott Walker for not calling special elections to fill a pair of legislative vacancies. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Friday that Holder made a case to students to “come out in record numbers” to vote in Wisconsin elections.

Despite the state Supreme Court race being officially nonpartisan, Holder said he wanted to support Dallet because of the money being spent by conservatives on behalf of Screnock. His group has spent $140,000 on digital ads to help Dallet, while the state’s business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, has spent more than $500,000 to help Screnock.

Holder was attorney general under Democratic President Barack Obama.

The Wisconsin GOP complaint against Dallet focuses on campaign donations from 39 attorneys who have contributed a combined $21,100 to her state Supreme Court campaign, according to records compiled by the party.

The state code of judicial conduct does not require judges to step away from cases involving attorneys who are campaign donors. But it does require judges to recuse if there is an appearance of impropriety.

Jessica Lovejoy, Dallet’s campaign manager, called the complaint baseless and said it showed Screnock was “running scared.”