by Henry Redman, Wisconsin Examiner
March 30, 2023

The Supreme Court campaign of Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz has called for an ad run by outside groups aligned with her opponent, former Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, to be pulled from the air after its subject said it contains falsehoods and misleading information. 

The ads, run by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Fair Courts America, two conservative groups that have spent millions of dollars supporting Kelly’s campaign, claimed Protasiewicz “let a rapist off easy.” 

Many of the ads run by these outside groups have criticized Protasiewicz’s allegedly lenient sentencing decisions while leaving out details such as the sentencing recommendation made by prosecutors. 

The victim in the case told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel she had no problem with the sentence Protasiewicz handed down in the case, which was 2.5 years in prison followed by 2.5 years of community supervision. She also said the ads were retraumatizing and included inaccurate information. 

“It immediately took my breath away,” the woman told the Journal Sentinel. “To see it in action. I wondered if there was any thought put into the human beings behind the cases. I am a human being who wants peace.”

In response to the report, the Protasiewicz campaign sent a letter to TV stations across the state requesting that the ad not be aired because of its inaccuracies. 

“Both of these ads are defamatory as a matter of law,” the letter states. “Their false statements, communicated to the public at large, are not privileged and concretely harm Judge Protasiewicz’s reputation, so as to lower her in the estimation of the community and to deter the public from associating and dealing with her — voting for her. The falsities were made and communicated with both actual malice, knowing the above statements to be false and/or recklessly disregarding their falsity, and express malice.”

Protasiewicz campaign spokesperson Sam Roecker said in a statement that Kelly and his “right-wing allies” are making up lies about her. 

“Dan Kelly and his right-wing allies have made up disgusting lies about Judge Janet Protasiewicz to scare voters and hide her record of protecting public safety and holding people accountable,” Roecker said. “While Dan Kelly has been silent about the disturbing actions of his supporters and the false information they’re spreading, broadcasters have a duty to pull these false and harassing ads from the air immediately.”

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