In January 2009, Milwaukee area attorney Mark Thomsen donated $5,000 to a Wisconsin official’s political campaign. Thomsen soon sent an additional $500 just eight days before the official cast a key vote on an insurance issue that greatly affected Thomsen and his clients.
The public official’s vote was not in the state Assembly, or the state Senate. It was in the state’s highest court.
When the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision came down in Thomsen’s favor, the majority included the recipient of Thomsen’s money: Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
Abrahamson, in fact, is the top recipient of support from attorneys whose cases reach the Supreme Court, pulling in $188,650 over the past 11 years, a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism analysis shows.
Those attorneys contributed a total of $210,750 to current justices, either before or after their cases were heard, from July 2002 through June 2013. Fifty-six percent of these contributions came in before the court’s rulings.