Supreme Court to review money-raising for judicial races | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 19, 2015

Supreme Court to review money-raising for judicial races

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 7:07 AM

The subject of judicial election — and the corrosive effect of fund-raising on the process — is in the news nationally as well as in Arkansas.

Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will review decisions from four appeals courts that have struck down state bans on direct solicitations for money by judges as impermissible limits on 1st Amendment speech rights.

Thirty of the 39 states that elect judges, including Arkansas, have rules that prohibit direct solicitations by judges or judicial candidates. The organized bar thinks this builds confidence in the system. Others say that campaigning is a fact of life and the use of a committee to raise money is only an artifice.

The recent experience in Arkansas is instructive. Mike Maggio knew he was getting campaign financial help from a Fort Smith nursing home owner, Michael Morton, when he chopped $4.2 million off a jury verdict against one of Morton's nursing homes. There's no evidence Maggio solicited Michael Morton directly. That was done by an intermediary, former Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker, who served as an intermediary  in this and a number of other judicial races.

Is there really any doubt that the other six candidates for Supreme Court who received varying pots of Morton money (five were elected) knew about the money raised by their committees sooner or later? Certainly Rhonda Wood did. She got half her total initial campaign haul from nursing homes, mostly Morton's. Her big initial haul undoubtedly helped discourage opponents in what proved to be an unopposed candidacy.

I suspect some Arkansas judges have solicited money directly, despite the supposed ethical ban. One lawyer told me of being directly solicited during a trial recess by the presiding judge, who was planning a race for a higher court. Or so the story went. That judge is retired now, by the way.

Speaking of Michael Morton: I talked yesterday of the Democrat-Gazette reporting that showed he'd pumped $1.2 million — at least — into state level political races in recent years. If you've time this quiet King/Lee holiday, you might plug his name into the Federal Election Commission search database. You'll find he's contributed another couple hundred thousand into federal races, party committees and the nursing home PAC. Tom Cotton and Tim Griffin in recent years, among others.

One thing is safe to conclude from the record: nursing homes are profitable.

Another thing safe to conclude is the ill effect of corporate money in all levels of the political process, abetted by the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United.  And, if the court remains convinced money is speech, then surely judicial speech is speech, too, right?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Saturday's open line

    Got any thoughts? Put them here.
    • May 21, 2016
  • Rep. Mary Bentley's website now supports gay rights

    Somebody has cybersquatted on Republican Rep. Mary Bentley's website, replacing her messaging with a call for equal rights for LGBTQ people.
    • Jul 18, 2017
  • The long and winding road: No exception yet for 30 Crossing

    The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.
    • Jun 29, 2016

Most Shared

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sunday open line

    • There is very little truth in the official narrative being told by the US government…

    • on December 18, 2017
  • Re: Sunday open line

    • The truth is out there.There is very little truth in the official narrative being told…

    • on December 18, 2017
  • Re: Sunday open line

    • There is very little truth in the official narrative told related to the events surrounding…

    • on December 18, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation