Outside money continues to pour into judicial races. Today, the Republican State Leadership Committee launched a $250,000 ad buy attacking Supreme Court candidate Clark Mason, who is running against reactionary conservative Shawn Womack.
The ad will run for the next week, with the election set for Tuesday. The RSLC is very committed to referring to Mason as Clark "Ka-Ching" Mason, a nickname that has not gone viral to date. From their press release:
“Clark ‘Ka-Ching’ Mason is the wrong choice for the Arkansas Supreme Court,” said RSLC President Matt Walter. “As a liberal trial lawyer, he made a practice out of profiting off of his injured and suffering clients. According to his own website, he could collect up to 50 percent from a case judgement! The state Supreme Court needs judges prepared to serve the people of Arkansas, not profit off of them.”
The ad's premise is rather remarkable. Basically, they break the shocking news that Mason, a trial lawyer who has done personal injury cases, makes money when he wins those cases. Meanwhile, Mason's opponent, Womack, has a long history of carrying the tort reform agenda for big businesses in Arkansas, trying to limit the ability for plaintiffs to seek damages in court. The ad says that Mason "profits from your pain and suffering." But the reason that Womack has the support of RSLC is precisely because he has devoted his political career to making sure big businesses never have to pay you damages if they cause you pain and suffering.
He has been especially aggressive about carrying water for the nursing home lobby on this front. So if you're mistreated in a nursing home, you might seek damages in court. Win your case and the nursing home will have to compensate you for the harm done. Yes, it's true that a portion of that money will go to the attorney that helped you win your case. But Womack's aim is to try to keep you from being entitled to damages at all. He wants to keep that money in the pockets of big businesses that do harm. Ka-ching.
The RSLC has previously attacked Mason with mailers that say he's, like, Obama-ish.
The RSLC describes itself as "the largest caucus of Republican state leaders in the country and the only national organization whose mission is to elect Republicans to multiple down-ballot, state-level offices" — so I know we're all excited to see them getting involved in judicial elections.
The committee took no action on any measure today, but Hutchinson said after the meeting that he was resigned to the lack of interest in his amendment. He said he'd be supporting a bill by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) to shine a light on spending by outside groups in Arkansas elections, judicial and otherwise. /more/
Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) appeared on Talk Business this weekend to make her case for her bill improving transparency and access to campaign finance information. She also firmly argued against the so-called "tort reform" proposal to amend the constitution: "That's essentially the value of a human life. I am staunchly pro-life, and you're never going to find me putting a dollar value on a human life." /more/
In addition to capping damages awarded in civil actions, the measure also give the legislature full power over the rules of pleading, practice, and procedure in the judicial branch, raising questions about the separation of powers in state government. /more/
At the moment, most candidates in Arkansas file contribution reports on paper, despite the existence of an online option. This makes the documents all but impossible to search if one is looking to discover who donated money to whom in a given election. /more/
The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission today filed a petition with the Arkansas Supreme Court requesting the suspension of Circuit Court Judge William Pearson, who has served as judge for the fifth judicial district (Pope, Johnson, and Franklin counties) since 2008. /more/
A group of citizens held a demonstration of sorts today at Sen. Tom Cotton's office in Little Rock to protest his support of Betsy DeVos, recently confirmed by the senate as the federal Secretary of Education. The group presented a check to "buy Senator Cotton's vote," a reference to the financial backing that DeVos and her family have provided to Cotton's campaigns.
The State Police have issued a minor clarification in what appears to be an effort to soothe an enraged Sen. Jason Rapert, exposed here as overly excited about both a Conway parking lot question from a constituent as well as some inflammatory Internet rhetoric that he's interpreted as a dire threat on his life. State cops took his reports seriously, they say. But in the end, they found nothing actionable.
Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.
The Walton College of Business is working to expand its executive education by opening an office in downtown Little Rock that would offer non-degree programs to the health, banking and finance and retail industries in Central Arkansas, the school confirmed today.
A former mental health agency director has won a default judgment worth $358,000 over a claim for unpaid retirement pay and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is apparently to blame for failure to respond to pleadings in the case.