Kaul Sides With Labor Unions Who Gave His Campaign $477K
April 18, 2019
[Madison, WI] – Yesterday, it was revealed that Attorney General Josh Kaul is refusing to defend Wisconsin’s right-to-work law before the U.S. Supreme Court – giving the big labor unions who donated to his campaign a major victory. Defending state laws is one of the primary duties of the Attorney General and on the campaign trail, Kaul promised he would do so even if he disagreed with the law. But that was before he got elected. Now that he’s in office, Kaul is picking and choosing which state laws to defend based on personal political ideology. In this case, Kaul betrayed his promise to Wisconsinites and instead sided with the respondents, the International Association of Machinists, who made thousands of dollars in direct contributions to his political campaign.
Read the full write-up here or find excerpts below.
Picking And Choosing: AG Kaul Won’t Defend State In Right-To-Work Appeal
April 17, 2019
So much for the defender of state laws.
Attorney General Josh Kaul, while campaigning last year for the state’s top prosecutor position, pledged that he would defend Republican-backed laws, if elected.
But the partisan Democrat’s vow came with a caveat.
“I think the AG’s job is to defend state statutes and state agency actions if there is a legally defensible position to take,” Kaul told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a month before November’s election.
The Republican incumbent at the time, then-Attorney General Brad Schimel, warned that Kaul would pick and choose the state laws he defended based on his political preferences….Schimel’s prediction has come to pass.
On Thursday, Kaul dropped his defense of the dues checkoff provision in Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, a case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kaul’s move effectively ends Wisconsin’s appeal of lower court decisions that gave Big Labor a big victory and an extended period of time to grab dues from the paychecks of workers who don’t want to pay them.
The International Association of Machinists District 10 filed the original lawsuit against the state law. The Machinists found a union-friendly trial court, won there, and then won the 2-1 decision in the federal appeals process.
But the state, under Schimel, appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. While the vast majority of requests fail to make the high court’s cut, the Wisconsin case spurred enough interest to be scheduled for a second conference of the justices, a fair indicator that the court would give selection serious consideration.
Kaul, it seems, couldn’t take the chance, and followed up the Supreme Court’s action with a two-page motion dropping Wisconsin out of the appeal.
It’s no surprise. Kaul and fellow Democrat, Gov. Tony Evers, ran on the backs of Big Labor. Evers in his budget proposal attempts to do away with a number of worker freedom laws that Republicans put on the books in recent years, including right-to-work.
The Attorney General’s decision to dive, however, is problematic on a number of levels.
2. The Machinists affiliated PAC gave Kaul $4,500 in his race for attorney general. His top seven contributors, giving a maximum $44,000 each, were unions — from the Teamsters to the Carpenters to the Laborers, according to Vote Smart. Those kinds of numbers, and these kinds of legal actions, certainly must raise serious questions about the attorney general being much obliged to organized labor.
3. The Obamacare lawsuits are proactive challenges of a federal statute or regulation. The right-to-work litigation is a failure on Kaul’s part to defend Wisconsin state statute.
Defending state laws is among the primary duties of attorneys general, something they shouldn’t refuse to do, Greg Zoeller, a former Indiana AG told Governing magazine in 2017. Zoeller, the publication noted, defended a variety of laws he didn’t like, including the death penalty, which he opposes on religious grounds.
“The courts are empowered to make the decision whether a law is constitutional or not,” Zoeller said. “To bring that question to the court, there has to be a lawyer on both sides.”
Not always in Wisconsin, as the state’s attorney general shows us. Kaul will defend state law, it seems, when it fits his interests and, it appears, his donors’ desires.
Read the full write-up here.