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Like Abrahamson, State Supreme Court challenger took campaign cash from lawyers

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Like Abrahamson, State Supreme Court challenger took campaign cash from lawyers
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

State Supreme Court candidate Randy Koschnick has taken campaign money from lawyers who appear before him as a Jefferson County circuit judge.

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But he says there's a big difference in what he did and what his Supreme Court opponent has done.

Koschnick has criticized Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson for taking $11,000 from lawyers who appeared before her in a malpractice case last week.

He said Abrahamson should have either given the money back or withdrawn from the case. She did neither. And she denied it would influence her decision in the case.

Meanwhile, the liberal group One Wisconsin Now said Koschnick took $1,300 from lawyers in his first campaign for circuit judge in 1999, attorneys who later appeared before him.

But Koschnick says there's a big difference. He said those lawyers did not have a case pending before the judge when they donated the money, while those in the Abrahamson case did.

If that ever happened, Koschnick said he'd withdraw from the case in question. He says he handles the others on a case-by-case basis.

Jay Heck of the watchdog group Common Cause says none of this would be a problem if Wisconsin had total public financing for its Supreme Court races.

Abrahamson and five other justices have asked the Legislature to approve such a system, but lawmakers cannot agree on how it would function.

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