Last week, in a move that even Republicans have called shocking, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Rudy Randa put the kibosh on a John Doe investigation looking into whether Governor Walker's campaign used a scheme of coordination with third party advocacy groups as a way to funnel millions of illegal corporate money into his recall campaign.
It's no secret that Randa is a conservative, but it turns out that he's also married to one of Walker's frequent contributors: Melinda Randa has given to Walker four times in the last four years.
According to the American Bar Association's Key Issues in Judicial Ethics: Political Activities by a Judge's Family, political contributions by a spouse are frowned-upon because there is an "inevitable public belief" that overt political actions "would or must implicate the fundamental thinking of the judge." However, because everyone is entitled to their free speech rights, a judge's spouse isn't bound to the same rules shunning political activity:
Consistent with the right to free speech contained in the First Amendment, however, the code of judicial conduct does not and probably could not prohibit members of a judge’s family from engaging in independent political activity. Therefore, judges have never been required to compel family members to shun political activity. They have been, however, required to encourage family members to do so.
The ABA does, however, say that a judge's spouse can't use the joint checking account to make a contribution to a campaign:
A judge who is prohibited from making political contributions should ensure that the judge’s spouse does not use the couple’s joint funds to make a contribution to a political campaign.
It is unknown at this time what steps, if any, Melinda Randa took to build a firewall between her political donations and her husband.
Melinda Randa is also well-known for being the longtime executive director for the nonprofit group, Adoption Choice, which is as an anti-abortion group that encourages women to go the route of adoption. She's retired now, but she was in that position when her husband made the controversial ruling that sided with abortion protesters seeking to block access to Planned Parenthood clinics.
And both Randa and his wife are active in the Milwaukee diocese, but that didn't prevent Randa from ruling on them either.
Judge Randa apparently has never read the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges that dictates a judge must not only avoid all impropriety, but equally important, the "appearance of impropriety."