State Ethics Commission Member Unconstitutionally Infringes on Free Press


A member of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission is unconstitutionally using his position to pressure advertisers into abandoning conservative talk radio stations in a direct violation of the First Amendment's protection of a free press.

Scot Ross, a controversial appointee of former State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, used his official, verified Twitter account to repeatedly call for advertiser boycotts of both Milwaukee's News/Talk 1130 WISN and Madison's 1310 WIBA, the stations which air "The Dan O'Donnell Show" and "The Vicki McKenna Show."

Using highly defamatory language, Ross on Monday called for an advertiser boycott of "white nationalist radio."

Even more troublingly, Ross actively intimidated an advertiser of 1310 WIBA, UW Health, by using his verified Twitter account to question why it was advertising on "white nationalist/terrorist insurrection radio."

This is not only a flagrant violation of both the United States and Wisconsin Constitution's protections of a free press, it is highly defamatory, as Ross is intentionally lying about two radio stations that are most assuredly not "white nationalist" or "insurrectionist" in nature. To accuse them of such is to act with a reckless disregard for the truth that would leave both Ross and the Wisconsin Ethics Commission subject to potential defamation lawsuits.

From a constitutional perspective, however, Ross' active role in an attempt to silence opinion journalism with which he disagrees through the use of an intimidation campaign of businesses that advertise on radio stations that he doesn't like is quite possibly the most egregious First Amendment violation that Wisconsin has seen in years.

Ross is quite obviously using his position on the Wisconsin Ethics Commission to try to silence both political speech and protected press reporting with which he disagrees. In so doing, he is abridging the freedom of both speech and the press in direct violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Additionally, he is violating Article I, Section 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution through his transparent attempt to "restrain or abridge the liberty of speech [and] of the press."

By his very position as a member of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, Ross' tweets implied that the force of the board that oversees ethical campaign and political behavior in the state was behind him in his call for UW Health to stop advertising on what he referred to as "white nationalist/terrorist insurrection radio."

In other words, UW Health might reasonably believe that advertising on said station was in itself unethical behavior in the eyes of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission and be pressured to pull its commercials from the airwaves.

Ross' actions as a member of the Wisconsin Government using a verified Twitter account that he also uses for official government communication are precisely the sort of abridgement of a free press that the framers of both the U.S. and Wisconsin Constitutions feared, and as such, his grossly unconstitutional abuse of his office cannot be tolerated in a free state.

Ironically enough, if Wisconsin cares at all about ethics in government, it will demand that Ross step down from his government position overseeing ethics in Wisconsin.

"The Dan O'Donnell Show" covered this gross violation of its First Amendment rights on Tuesday's show. Click on the player below to listen and click here to subscribe to "The Dan O'Donnell Show" on iHeartRadio.