Outside money coming to Supreme Court race | Arkansas Blog

Friday, February 5, 2016

Outside money coming to Supreme Court race

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 9:10 PM

A national group notes the first outside money ads have been booked in the race for Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. The release:

The Washington, D.C.-based Judicial Crisis Network has booked television ad contracts totaling $76,555 to air ahead of Arkansas’ Supreme Court race, according to an analysis of public FCC records by Justice at Stake.

According to paperwork filed simultaneously with the ad buy at KFSM in Fort Smith, the topic of the ads will be “Gifts and campaign contributions accepted by Arkansas Associate Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson.” No further characterization of the ads was provided. The spots are scheduled to start running February 8.

The conservative Judicial Crisis Network has been a major spender in state Supreme Court races nationwide for several years. According to Bankrolling the Bench, the comprehensive report on judicial races in the 2013-14 cycle by Justice at Stake, the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, JCN gave $528,000 in that cycle to groups that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on judicial elections in Wisconsin and Tennessee.

Justice Goodson is facing Circuit Judge Dan Kemp in a contest for Chief Justice. Circuit Judge Shawn Womack and attorney Clark Mason are competing for another open seat on the court. Arkansas’ Supreme Court elections are nonpartisan.

Earlier this week, Justice at Stake reported ad buys by the Goodson campaign totaling nearly $68,000. No television ad buys by other campaigns have yet been reported on the FCC site.

As of their last filing deadline for receipts through December 31, the candidates themselves have reported raising:

Kemp: $169,961.00

Goodson: $113,854.55

Mason: $49,001.00

Womack: $47,115.00

There will be some irony if, as I strongly suspect, this proves to be a conservative dark money group intent on electing its preferred brand of justice to the Supreme Court by spending dark money to implicitly criticize Goodson's financial backing. 

How conservative is this dark money group? Check out Right Wing Watch's file on their activities. Among others, they thought Chris Christie too liberal. They hate campaign finance reform. They've blasted, get this, John Roberts and Antonin Scalia as being too liberal. It is not a stretch to say an implicit endorsement from this group is reason to vote for the candidate they oppose.

When the ads start running, I look forward to the take by the new judicial watchdog group in Arkansas and I await too what the benefitting candidate, likely Dan Kemp, will say about the incursion into the race.

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