Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Chisholm Challenger Skips Debate

Verona Swanigan objects to moderator and drops out of debate with DA John Chisholm.

By - Jun 22nd, 2016 12:27 pm
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Verona Swanigan. Photo from Swanigan campaign website.

Verona Swanigan. Photo from Swanigan campaign website.

This is the 100th year anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of Milwaukee, and the group has been trying to line-up high profile speakers for its luncheons to help celebrate it. More than two weeks ago Kiwanis announced it would be holding a debate between Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and challenger Verona Swanigan, as Bruce Vielmetti has reported for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

But it wasn’t until Monday, said Kiwanis administrator Julie Gmeinder, that Craig Peterson, an adviser to Swanigan, said she wouldn’t attend if the Kiwanis couldn’t find a different moderator.

“We thought this was going to great event, and then it fell through, which is too bad,” an obviously disappointed Gmeinder told me.

Peterson told the newspaper he felt Janine Geske would be inappropriate because he believes she supports Chisholm, and that he recommended the Kiwanis try to get a journalist, or panel of journalists, to act as moderator. He said someone on the Kiwanis program committee knew well before Monday that Swanigan had issues with Geske as moderator.

Swanigan said she felt the former justice would be biased because Geske is “basically best friends” with Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Geske, a former state Supreme Court Justice who was appointed to the position by Republican Tommy Thompson, is now a Marquette University Law School Distinguished Professor. The widely respected jurist served as interim Milwaukee County Executive after Tom Ament resigned in the wake of the county pension scandal. But she has made comments critical of the conservative majority on the state Supreme Court.

Chisholm told the newspaper Geske isn’t a supporter as far as he’s aware and hasn’t endorsed him, donated money or made ads on behalf of the campaign.

Swanigan’s campaign so far has been beset with problems. The Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice has done stories reporting that Swanigan is the author of a steamy book of erotic poetry, that she submitted an affidavit to a court that she was “significantly physically and mentally impaired,” and thus unable to function as an attorney, and that she filed eviction notices against hundreds of people on behalf of a slum landlord.

Faced with the loss of its debate, Kiwanis asked both candidates to speak separately to the group. Chisholm accepted and will speak to the group on July 27. As for Swanigan, “I offered her a date the same time I contacted Chisholm and she hasn’t gotten back to me,” Gmeinder told me.

But not long after I contacted her campaign for comment, Swanigan accepted and will now speak before the group on June 29.

Swanigan’s challenge of Chisholm, as I’ve reported, is part of a long-term strategy supported by Sauk County-based conservative Eric O’Keefe, to punish the incumbent DA for overseeing the John Doe investigation of O’Keefe’s Wisconsin Club for Growth and the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker.

Update 6:40 p.m. June 22: In response to an emailed request for comment this morning, Swanigan replied with this message:

The Swanigan campaign did not cancel the debate. Attorney Swanigan was highly upset that they did not provide her with a flyer for the debate or with the information that the debate would have a 25 dollar costs, which will prevent many residents of this county from attending the event. Attorney Swanigan’s number one goal is to have open access to political debates, and for the community to be well-informed of the truth. The truth has been denied many under our current leadership. Attorney Swanigan was not informed that the debate was even cancelled prior to the media and the leaders of the Democratic party like Martha Love fabricating a story that claimed that Attorney Swanigan dropped out of the debate. Attorney Swanigan was not informed until Tuesday afternoon that the debate had allegedly been declined based on her position about the moderator. Well, it is our position now based on the manner in which this has been handled that our teams belief that having a Chisholm supporter be the moderator was unjust and biased. However, what do we expect from leaders who have lead this county in an unjust and biased manner for ten years. What should we expect from leaders who have denied public the truth from ten years? What should we expect from a leader who seems to only care about the concerns of his constituency and not the concerns of the county? The tactics of Chisholm’s campaign have been to lie and then tell more lies, but Attorney Swanigan shall continue to stand on the truth and point out his failures. Attorney Swanigan shall seek to do a non-traditional, non-establishment debate that is unbiased, free, and where all are welcome to attend. Then we will hear the truth!

7 thoughts on “Back in the News: Chisholm Challenger Skips Debate”

  1. Mama says:

    Well, that 6:40 p.m. comment from Swanigan sure didn’t do her any favors.

  2. David Nelson says:

    Yep. Sometimes it’s not the partisan aspect, just a general unwillingness to prepare and understand issues and practicalities.

  3. Fightingbobfan says:

    Does the Swanigan campaign know how the RETURN key works?

  4. BT says:

    OK, so there’s no “Swanigan for DA-She’ll Kick Some A##” bumper sticker on my car, nor her sign in my yard and I’d bet my last dollar there never will be, I’m suspicious of the crop of Peterson candidates that certainly at least in the media haven’t sounded like anything too great. (although as far as the news media here, other than Mr Murphy, who I likely don’t agree with on many issues, but can see not only is he an excellent journalist, he’s also probably the ONLY one left here, so I better read up since I’ve got nowhere else to go for accurate news! Bice’s illegally leaked grand jury info in the going nowhere fast John Doe’s doesn’t count, that’s not digging anything up its just printing ILLEGALLY linked info-wow that’s some great journalism! Other than that and Mr Murphy, it is simply reprinting whatever liberal pol’s press release you just reworded or screwing something up and printing/broadcasting it) Plus, out of the mountain of problems in our local gov’ts, just one mess and/or clueless clown happy to cash their paychecks and fumble around with major issues, sitting next to another clueless clown too busy thinking about what office to try to worm their way into next, or if they REALLY screw up badly, which do nothing gov’t job and big pension should be their pick once they lose the next election, DA Chisholm doesn’t look to me to be the “bad guy” some make him out to be anyway, excusing of course taking Walker’s office calling to REPORT A THEFT FROM A CHARITY and having that turn into the biggest waste of time and money (not to mention burning the Bill of Rights, but libs did a 180 and want to burn that now anyway!) but I’m sure he was getting calls daily from hot and bothered Dems all over the USA daily “What’s the latest?? Any more besides posting JSOnline comments via gov’t computer?????? NO???!!!! SON OF A . . . ”

    OK, other than that mistake, what can he do when the DA’s office seems to be asking for what lib judges think are some crazy things like actually sending repeat violent offenders to at least a little house of correction time when lib judge sees pre-sentence report has a bunch of BS in there about what a great guy this carjacker is (he’s a talented artist who draws great pencils of huge blunts!) who was on bail for armed robbery after getting out of juvi after the stretch they got for beating that lady up who tried to keep her purse at the bus stop and they give him bullsh#t suspended sentence and oh wow, the MPD had a shoot out with him 3 days later after he robbed another corner store! So, I’m not in the “Chisholm is the problem” camp, let’s address the myriad of other DOA elected officials first, like MAYBE SOMEONE ACTUALLY RUNS AGAINST A SITTING JUDGE if they’re all in for the “save prison for their second murder” theory of justice, that ties the DA’s hands tight there!

    I do however totally understand her reluctance with the debate, whether its Geske and I don’t care if Tommy appointed her or his brother Ed did when he pretended to be the Gov for a day once, if you read the reworded press releases that pass for the Milwaukee Urinal these days, you know damn well she’s all for the status quo. Heck, she’s probably working her weekly shift answering the ZERO calls coming into Barrett’s “gun hotline” as we speak!

  5. Oh good Lord. This is the most desperate back-thinking excuse for pulling out. I known conservative lawyers and judges who would be honored to have Geske serve as moderator. She is an acknowledged international leader in issues of justices.

  6. Bill Kissinger says:

    Has it really come to this? A former State Supreme Court Justice is not considered above reproach to moderate this little eensy weensy debate? And since when has $25 dollars been a significant sum in the world of politics. Even Bernie’s supporters contribute an average of $27.

    Apparently in our fire storm politicized culture,with flames fanned by political consultants like Craig Peterson, no one can trust or maintain at least respect anyone. What does that say about the present and how can we even hope for a better future?

  7. 2fs says:

    I kinda thought being able to write coherent sentences and paragraphs would be a requirement for being DA, or any attorney – but apparently not.

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