Of all the Republican hyperventilating over failed Supreme Court candidate Linda Clifford's perfectly legal robocals citing a Milwaukee Sentinel Journal (inversion deliberate) endorsement, some of the loudest came from WTMJ's blandly malevolent Jeff Wagner:
If Clifford and her pals at The Greater Wisconsin Committee didn't run another ad, Clifford would already win the award for conducting the sleaziest judicial campaign in the history of the State of Wisconsin. As a matter of fact, I can't recall another political campaign - period - where the candidate didn't run a single positive ad. Of course, when you stand for the things that Linda Clifford appears to stand for, its no surprise that she wouldn't want to dwell on the issues.
There's a lot to be said about the Clifford campaign. But as far as accusing it of sleaziness -- while ignoring Ziegler's ads denouncing Clifford for being an "immigration lawyer" -- please. Since when is it sleazy to let the public know a candidate for the highest court in the state has a brazen disregard for judicial ethics?
You think Jeff would know better about sleazy tactics given his own experience as a failed state attorney general candidate.
Remember "handgunhotlinegate," when GOPers including a Wagner staffer, tried to embarrass then-attorney Jim Doyle? The plan was to try to buy a handgun while using a felon's name. The hope was the name wouldn't show up during a hotline check because it hadn't been entered in the crime laboratory's computers. Voila (or whallah), Jim Doyle gets embarrassed over the backlog at the crime lab (yes, that has been an issue for more than a decade).
Thing is, the hotline worked.
From the 10/14/94 Milwaukee Journal:
(State rep John Dobyns was) accused of political dirty tricks after he and two other Republicans used the names of convicted criminals in an attempt to get clearance to buy a gun. Democrats say it was an attempt to embarrass Attorney General Jim Doyle's gun hot line.
Workers on the hot line, however, red-flagged the names: One was of a convicted rapist serving 30 years in prison and the other was that of Leonard McDowell, convicted in April of killing Wauwatosa West High School Associate Principal Dale Breitlow last year.
Doyle's office says the law may have been broken in the incident because it is illegal to give false information when buying a gun. In addition, Doyle's office says other crimes may have been committed, including impersonating a police officer.
Dobyns, though, scoffs at that and other allegations, and says he only went along as an observer when a party staffer (Lisa B. Nelson) and the campaign manager for Republican attorney general candidate Jeff Wagner (Steve Lyons) went to a Marquette County gun store Wednesday.
They wanted to see if they could get clearance from the hot line to buy a gun using the names of the convicted felons.
"The bottom line is you're not doing anything wrong because there's no criminal intent you're just testing the bureaucracy to see if the gun hot line works properly," Dobyns said. "I think we have a perfect right to test the system."
But don't worry: Jeff claimed he had no knowledge of this situation. And anyway, Jim Doyle was worse!
From a 10/14/94 Mike Nichols story in the Journal:
Campaigning with Gov. Tommy G. Thompson on Thursday, Wagner told reporters: "I can't imagine that this will have any impact on my race. I think it is much to do about nothing given the huge scandal that is going on in the crime laboratory."
Safe to say it didn't help.