FACT CHECK: Protasiewicz Campaign Ad’s Full of Fiction & Deception

MADISON, Wis — Wisconsin voters have had a good look at the corruption of Janet Protasiewicz. Protasiewicz has a history of unethical behavior, aligns herself with corrupt politicians, and has centered her campaign on prejudging cases. Yet this week the Protasiewicz campaign took their ill witted tricks to the next level; airing blatantly false attack ads on Justice Daniel Kelly.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel set the narrative straight — calling out Protasiewicz for her LIES. It’s a low blow to launch two attack ads that have “significant factual omissions” about former Justice Daniel Kelly, but it’s not a shocking move from the most unethical judge in Wisconsin.

So here are the facts:

The first ad accuses Kelly of conflicts of interest involving the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) due to an advisory board he served on and campaign donations. 

  • The volunteer advisory board they refer to met TWICE four years before Justice Kelly was named to the Supreme Court, and the board discussed none of the cases WILL brought before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  • The campaign donations cited in the ad came after the cases in question were decided.
  • If Protasiewicz says Kelly can be bought for $14,000, why would voters believe $1 million from Planned Parenthood and money from other organizations wouldn’t influence her judgment?

The second ad falsely claims Kelly recused himself and then re-engaged in the same case, in response to a donation he received.

“Janet Protasiewicz blatant lies and deception are unbecoming of someone running for an office that requires impartiality and integrity,” said WisGOP Spokesperson Rachel Reisner. “Protasiewicz has aligned herself with corrupt politicians like Hillary Clinton and Mandela Barnes, so while it is not surprising she would stoop so low as to spread complete fiction about Justice Daniel Kelly, it is more than disqualifying for a job bound by a code of ethics.”

Read more from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Protasiewicz campaign ads slam Kelly for failing to step away from cases involving donors but the claims leave out significant facts

Molly Beck and Corri Hess

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

March 14, 2023

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz is spending millions to flood airwaves with two ads in this year’s race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that contain significant factual omissions in their criticism of her opponent, former Justice Daniel Kelly.

The ads are focused on the issue of recusal and Kelly’s voting record while he served on the state’s highest court from Aug. 1, 2016, through Aug. 1, 2020.

In one of the ads, Protasiewicz accuses Kelly of using his connections to the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty to benefit the organization’s clients when he heard six cases between 2017 and June 2019. The ad points out that Kelly accepted more than $14,000 in campaign contributions from WILL board members and served on an advisory panel for the firm before being appointed to the Supreme Court by former Gov. Scott Walker in 2016.

The WILL cases were in 2017 to June 2019. Kelly did not start fundraising until after June 2019, spokesman Ben Voelkel said, so those donations would not have influenced his decisions.

Kelly served on WILL’s Litigation Advisory Board. The group met in September 2011 and August 2012 and then disbanded, WILL spokesman Pat Garrett said.


Protasiewicz is also arguing Kelly should have stayed off a case brought by a member of a family that donated $20,000 to his 2020 campaign for the state’s highest court.

Kelly recused himself from a case brought by Timothy Zignego in 2019 over the state’s voter rolls because the lawsuit was poised to be before the state Supreme Court while he was on the ballot in the 2020 spring election. Days after he lost to Justice Jill Karofsky, Kelly asked parties involved in the case to say what they thought he should do, and ultimately issued an order saying he would participate in the case.

But Kelly was not involved in the case’s outcome as it was decided after his term had expired and Karofsky had replaced him.

In a new ad, Protasiewicz ties Kelly’s decision to rejoin the case to $20,000 worth of campaign donations from the Zignego family, including Timothy.