Wisconsin Senate: mandatory judicial recusal for contributions over $1000; limit includes independent expenditures

I mentioned last month the raft of legislation filed in the Wisconsin Assembly dealing with judicial recusal, including proposals to require recusal for certain campaign contributions as well as giving the supreme court the ability to force a justice off a case. Members of the Wisconsin Senate have now taken one of those bills (AB 588) and introduced it in their chamber as SB 647.

The bills require a judge to disqualify himself or herself from an action if, as a candidate for judicial office and within the past four years, the judge received campaign financial support of $1,000 or more from a party to the action. Moreover, the definition of “financial support” is defined broadly to include not only campaign contributions but independent contributions made on behalf of the judge and independent contributions made against the judge’s opponent.

SB 647 has been placed in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.