Chisholm Challenger Skips Debate
Verona Swanigan objects to moderator and drops out of debate with DA John Chisholm.
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.
“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.
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!