Ad attacking Wisconsin Justice Rebecca Bradley's attendance is not the whole story

MILWAUKEE - JoAnne Kloppenburg, who is challenging Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley this spring, has launched a television ad that questions Bradley's independence and attendance on the bench.

The ad continues a trend in the race, which has taken a much sharper tone as the candidates attacking one another's partisan ties.

JoAnne Kloppenburg ad on Rebecca Bradley

"Is Rebecca Bradley independent enough to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court?" the Kloppenburg ad begins. "(Gov.) Scott Walker appointed Bradley three times to three judgeships in three years. The Republican Party is helping pay for Bradley's campaign."

A FOX6 News Reality Check rated the claims about Walker and the Republican Party as true, but...

JoAnne Kloppenburg ad on Rebecca Bradley

Walker has appointed Bradley to seats on the Milwaukee Circuit Court, Wisconsin Appeals Court, and Wisconsin Supreme Court since 2012.

Rebecca Bradley

The Republican Party of Wisconsin and local party offices have contributed a combined $10,142.47 to Bradley's campaign over the past year. The money includes $8,242.47 of in-kind contributions from the state party, $400 of in-kind contributions from the Washington County GOP, and $1,500 from the First District Republican Party.

Bradley has taken in about 30 times that amount, or more than $300,000, from other individuals and organizations since the beginning of 2015, state campaign finance records indicate.

"She (Bradley) recently skipped court to attend an event paid for by Walker’s lobbyist friends," the ad continues.

This part of the ad is not the whole story, FOX6 News found.

JoAnne Kloppenburg ad on Rebecca Bradley

Bradley has admitted that she left before oral arguments in a child-care case ended February 24th so she could give a political speech in front of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state's top business group.

WMC has spent heavily to elect Republican candidates, but has not yet contributed in this year's Supreme Court race.

Bradley estimates that she left 10 minutes before oral arguments ended and later watched the rest of the arguments on video. Kloppenburg has countered that Bradley missed 20 minutes.

Wisconsin Eye records all oral arguments before the court, but the camera often focuses on the lawyers and justices who are speaking and rarely shows the whole courtroom.

When the camera showed the courtroom 38 minutes from the end of oral arguments, Bradley was in her chair. The next wide shot of the room didn't happen for 32 minutes, at which point Bradley had left.

Rebecca Bradley

But Rebecca Bradley is not the first justice to leave early for a political event.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley left oral arguments February 3rd, 2015, to give a political speech at the Wisconsin Counties Association's Legislative Exchange Day.

She noted that it was "a little unusual" to be speaking in front of the group during the lunch hour, which she said was because the court was hearing oral arguments. Ann Walsh Bradley didn't mention that she was missing oral arguments to speak at the group's event.

Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Bradley are not related.

JoAnne Kloppenburg ad on Rebecca Bradley

The rest of Kloppenburg's new ad is a positive profile of herself, in which a narrator describes Kloppenburg as "principled, not political." Kloppenburg's opponents have said that claim is far from the truth, and it could itself be the focus of an ad before the April 5th election.