May 15, 2007
With those two words, the U.S. Supreme Court ended Todd Rongstad's efforts to immunize vicious attacks on candidates for public office. The self-described "political hit man" used a front group to attack then Assemblywoman Julie Lassa in an attempt to scare her away from the soon-to-be-vacant State Senate seat of Kevin Shibiliski.
Shibiliski, you may recall, was the chosen running mate of gubernatorial candidate Jim Doyle. The plan was simple. Shibiliski wins Lt. Gov, his seat becomes vacant and the very wealthy Alex Paul would run for the seat and win in this Democratic stronghold.
The only speed bump was Julie Lassa. They had to scare her out of the race. How? Hire Rongstad to attack her with the goal of convincing her to stay put. In other words, go-along-to-get-along and if you don't? Well, check out the postcard linking Lassa to Chuck Chvala. Welcome to hardball.
Instead of going along, Julie approached my law firm and filed a libel action against Rongstad. Long story short, Rongstad refused a court order to tell Lassa who paid for the attack. After being held in contempt, he finally admitted that Alex Paul had paid Rongstad.
Lassa defeated Paul and settled with Rongstad who agreed to pay a portion of her legal fees and to make a contribution not to her but to the School Fund. All she wanted was to clear her name. Senator Lassa did that and more. She has given future candidates some protection from those creeps who will say anything, true or false, to win an election.
Rongstad went to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and lost. Then, with lots of help from neocon legal groups, he asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision. The Court refused.
Congratulations to Julie Lassa and to attorney Pam McGillivray. Well done. Well done. Our politics will be a little cleaner thanks to you.
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