Follow the money in judicial races | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 16, 2015

Follow the money in judicial races

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge POLITICAL SEA CHANGE: Justice Courtney Goodson, who had liberal Democratic backing in her first court race, now has many Republicans on her contribution list.
  • POLITICAL SEA CHANGE: Justice Courtney Goodson, who had liberal Democratic backing in her first court race, now has many Republicans on her contribution list.
Judicial candidates filed campaign finance reports yesterday and they contain the usual telltale signs of what to expect from the candidates on the bench.

For example: Circuit Judge Shawn Womack of Mountain Home, a former Republican senator from Mountain Home, reported he'd raised $28,165 so far for an open seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court for which he's currently the only candidate. A good sum came from his home territory. But he also got $2,700 from the Associated Industries of Arkansas; $2,700 from the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce; $2,000 from the Arkansas Poultry Federation;  $500 from Entergy's PAC and $1,000 from the PAC of Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, whose PAC recently got a $12,000 infusion, primarily in the form of a $5,000 contribution from the Reynolds tobacco company and $5,000 from Crown Cork and Seal, recently favored by the legislature with an exemption from paying claims to workers, many of them veterans, injured by exposure to asbestos.

A vote for Womack, a legislative advocate of limiting the ability to sue for damages in Arkansas courts, is, in short, not likely a vote for the working stiff. It certainly won't be a vote for equal rights. As senator, Womack wanted to criminalize homosexuality, prevent same-sex marriage and even prevent gay people from adopting children.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, who's unopposed so far for chief justice, reported $138,000 in contributions, with $100,000 in the form of loans to her campaign. Her husband John Goodson is a wealthy lawyer and lobbyist who's poured money and influence into most of the other seats on the Supreme Court. 

Contributions that leap from her pages include a $6,000 bundle from powerhouse lobbyist Bruce Hawkins and related people (Hawkins moved that asbestos forgiveness bill through the legislature). The Entergy PAC appears, too, along with lobbyists and lawyers aplenty. Her PAC money included $1,000 from the Jag PAC. It's formally known as the Jobs and Growth PAC and is operated by Republican Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin.

Griffin wasn't the only Republican on the roster of Goodson givers, a marked change from her first race for court when married to a different husband, Mark Henry, who brought immense support from Democrats to her cause. Republican prosecutors Cody Hiland of Conway and Ken Casady of Benton (the offices are non-partisan, but they ARE Republicans) gave $100 and $500, respectively. Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, who's profited as a lawyer from a working relationship with John Goodson, gave $100. His cousin, Asa Hutchinson III, son of the Republican governor and also a lawyer, gave $150.

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