The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity is behind a mailer criticizing Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Joanne Kloppenburg for prosecutions that were trumpeted by her boss Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who is defending Governor Walker's union-busting bill in court.
The Americans for Prosperity postcard has the title "Joanne Kloppenburg: 'Her job as a government lawyer cost Wisconsin jobs,'" and notes three cases she prosecuted during her more than twenty years at the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). The Attorney General is the elected official in charge of the DOJ.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is not only criticizing Kloppenburg for doing her job, but for prosecutions that the Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen took full credit for!
Compare criticisms in the AFP mailer with contemporaneous facts:
Kloppenburg prosecuted an Appleton-area economic developer. The business was forced to pay a $150,000 fine which ultimately bankrupted the job-creating project.
A February 27, 2009 press release Attorney General Van Hollen proudly stated that the developers were fined for filling wetlands without a permit and taking steps to damage wetlands. According to the release, "Runoff pollution is the major source of polluted waters in Wisconsin. "Wisconsin law requires that developers and contractors properly manage construction sites to protect state waters," Attorney General Van Hollen is quoted as saying. "The Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure that Wisconsin's natural resources are protected through compliance with the law."
Kloppenburg argued in court against raising water levels of wetlands along the Rock Koshkonong Lake District. The lack of water level has caused property values to drop, killing tourism and jobs in Rock County.
Here too, Attorney General Van Hollen is the named attorney for the DNR, and Kloppenburg argued on behalf of the DOJ to protect the area wetlands and preserve fish and bird habitats.
In 2007, Kloppenburg sued two family farmers, enforcing fines of over $27,000 for a family in Langlade County and $38,861 for a family in Manitowoc County.
The Langlade County "family farmer" is actually a factory-farm livestock operation that was fined for discharging 250,000 gallons of liquid manure onto a field, which then ran-off into the Spring Brook Creek, violating Wisconsin water pollution laws. The DOJ's October 12, 2007 press release stated "In announcing the judgment, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen stressed how important it is for large livestock operations to take the steps necessary to ensure compliance with Wisconsin permit requirements that are designed to protect state water resources."
Criticizing Kloppenburg for these prosecutions without mentioning her boss is unfair, but we might note that each of these acts were in the context of enforcing the state's environmental laws. Considering that AFP and the Kochs have been pushing climate change denial and the repeal of environmental regulation, is it coincidence that they chose these examples?