Wisconsin GOP files complaint over 'bias' of judge who signed Walker recall petition

The Republican Party of Wisconsin has filed a formal complaint against a local judge after he temporarily blocked a GOP-backed voter ID law -- after having signed a petition advocating for the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

In a statement, the state party questioned the judge's "bias" and called for a probe by the state judicial commission into his "failure ... to maintain the appearance of impartiality" in the voter ID case.

Fox 6 in Milwaukee reported that Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan signed the petition before making the ruling. Walker is a defendant in that voter ID case -- which is a challenge to a state law requiring voters to show photo ID.

The state's attorney general already plans to appeal the voter ID ruling. But some questioned Flanagan's decision to sign the petition.

"How can it not be a conflict of interest?" Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald told Fox 6.

Janine Geske, a Marquette law professor, told Fox 6 that the judge should have disclosed the detail about the petition before issuing the ruling.

"I know Judge Flanagan, and I have a lot of respect for him. I don't know whether there's an ethical violation. I think the fact that he signed the recall petition, and now he's deciding this case, now has political implications. I would never have signed a recall petition," said Geske, a former state Supreme Court justice.

But Democratic state Sen. Lena Taylor said the voter ID case has nothing to do with Walker, and downplayed the controversy.

"This is about a piece of legislation and an individual's fundamental right to vote," she said. "If this was a Scott Walker case in particular, then I could see the argument."