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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Maggio issues a no-comment on judicial investigation; his campaign consultant drops him

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 4:30 PM

click to enlarge MUTE: Judge Mike Maggio offers only a no comment on his reported injudicious commenting on the Internet.
  • MUTE: Judge Mike Maggio offers only a no comment on his reported injudicious commenting on the Internet.
Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway, under investigation by a judicial ethics panel for comments on a website that included release of confidential adoption information, issued a brief statement on the matter today. It amounted to a no comment. His failure to quit the race immediately prompted his campaign consultant to stop representing Maggio.

This means that Maggio is, at least for now, staying in the Arkansas Court of Appeals race. If Maggio is unaware of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission complaint, he must mean only in the technical sense of formal notice from the Commission. The news has appeared in media nationwide and undoubtedly has been a subject or discussion with his campaign consultant.

His decision only invites still more scrutiny of a record pockmarked with injudicious behavior.

The entire document from Maggio appears below.
click to enlarge Screen_Shot_2014-03-04_at_4.08.48_PM.png

click to enlarge WITH SPOKESPERSON: The judge and Dawn Rivers.
  • WITH SPOKESPERSON: The judge and Dawn Rivers.
I received a copy of Maggio's statement from his former campaign consultant who included this in the e-mail:

Also, please find a statement “for the record” in the body of this email from Clint Reed, Partner at Impact Management Group — who has been the general consultant on Judge Maggio’s race for court of appeals.

“Our firm will no longer be representing Judge Maggio moving forward. Any future press inquiries should be directed to Judge Maggio.” 

Reed provided me an attachment to an e-mail he received from Dawn Rivers, apparently representing Maggio. It said only:


Clint,
Attached is Judge Maggio's statement.
Thank you.


Maggio didn't answer his cell phone. He has not responded to my e-mail. He might not be able to comment on a formal complaint, but he could comment on his prolific posting on the Internet.

We could speculate on other discussions that could have led to a consultant's decision to leave a campaign. One would be the difficulty in defending Maggio's apparent sexist, racist, homophobic and anti-Arkansas remarks under the pseudonym "geauxjudge" on the Tiger Droppings website for LSU fans. Another could be a lack of defense for talking on the website about a confidential court proceeding —  the adoption of a child in Faulkner County in 2012 by actress Charlize Theron. One could be moving to remove evidence from the website. "Geauxjudge's" comments began disappearing after the story broke yesterday. Another could be the likelihood that campaign money will dry up. Maggio had received money from business lobbyists who favor tort reform. His opponent, Bart Virden, is a former president of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers, but sending money to someone carrying Maggio's baggage could spread the splatter of his self-soiling on a contributor. 

UPDATE: Campaign consultant Reed objects to my use of word "quit" in headline and copy. He doesn't see himself as a quitter. Indeed not. He may merely have recognized an ethically challenged candidate that a consultant couldn't defend with a clear conscience and for that he should be cheered. His firm earlier dropped representation of Mark Darr in his later aborted congressional campaign on discovering he had problems in his campaign and state office expense accounts. Is it quitting not to represent a cheater?

The Judicial Commission indicated in its release Monday that it was investigating Maggio before news of his comments appeared on Blue Hog Report and then here. Maggio has not yet denied the comments in any way. His consultant's departure is at least circumstantial indication that excuses, rather than a denial, will be the best he has to offer. Or perhaps he's awaiting a commission appearance to make a sworn statement under oath that somebody used all the details of his personal life and intimate knowledge of confidential proceedings in Faulkner County to post on a site for LSU, which also happens to be a school attended by a Maggio daughter.

Maggio has made a poor judgment call here. But it's not his first. And speaking of secrecy: some questions are in order for why no record appears in Faulkner County circuit court records for Maggio's divorce. There's little legal precedent for the sealing of entire divorce cases from initial pleading to final decree. Hearings can at times be closed, but specific reasons are generally required — such as protection of children's interests — for closing any portions of records or testimony. Did Maggio just pull a string with a friend on the Faulkner Circuit bench? I've put that question to the judge I've been told sealed the record. No response yet. Maggio's persistence with the campaign only invites an even more searching look at his record.

Tangled webs in Faulkner County.

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