Ethics questions for David Sterling | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ethics questions for David Sterling

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2018 at 9:03 AM


David Sterling, the dark money Republican darling to oust Justice Courtney Goodson from the Supreme Court, edged into a runoff with the incumbent, which foretells a long and dirty run to November.

The Judicial Crisis Network and the Republican State Leadership Committee have already devoted almost $2 million to beating Goodson and I see no reason not to expect a similar contribution, with a similar lack of intellectual honesty, in the months to come.

Can we expect better behavior from Sterling himself? He's uttered no disapproving words about dark and partisan and misleading words in support of his race for a non-partisan office. That's unlikely to change.

Evidence supplied by an election watcher:
Using his Facebook posting power, David Sterling is actively directing people to content he keeps alive from his AG race and portions of his website to declare his past positions. He urges people to “look up my stance” on some things. He is, in violation of [the judicial ethics rule] 4.1, publicly identifying himself as being affiliated with a political organization. He is making a statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impart the fairness of a matter pending, is making promise or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties. . . . "
Example:
click to enlarge screen_shot_2018-05-22_at_11.35.54_am.png
You need not look hard on the web to find ample support for the proposition that Sterling is an NRA dream candidate. He even identifies himself as a member in Supreme Court advertising. Will he take part in cases likely to arise over recent Arkansas gun lawmaking?

But that's by no means all. He still has YouTube videos posted from his race for attorney general and accessible Internet links that squarely identify his stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, guns and more, including his Republican Party membership.

Will he continue to refer questions on positions to his attorney general's race? Will he take down his past social media postings identifying specific policy positions? Will he declare now he'll recuse from cases involving those positions he advertises? Will he repudiate dark and partisan money in judicial races? Will he recuse from cases involving the Republican Party given his use of the Republican Party machinery as a campaigning tool? Sterling doesn't return my calls and e-mails. Perhaps he'll answer you. Here's his Facebook page.

Predictions: The dark money will gush; Sterling will make clear his positions on hot-button issues; he'd be an automatic vote for his backers' agenda. And the voters? It remains to be seen if ethics matter, particular here in Trumpansas. But Goodson's finish at the top of the first round of balloting might — might — be an indication of blowback to sleazy judicial campaigning. Sterling finished dead last in his home county of Pulaski, which tells you something.

The Republican group backed for corporate money from the likes of Walmart, drug companies and similar GOP sympathizers made it clear it will be back attacking Goodson.

“We are so pleased that David Sterling is advancing to a runoff for the Supreme Court, and that overall vote totals for right-of-center judicial candidates were nearly double that of the out-of-touch incumbent, Courtney Goodson.” said Matt Walter, President of the RSLC. “We spent several weeks investing in an information campaign for voters to understand what was at stake in this key judicial race and the need for our courts to act as they were designed. Because of their mounting failures to win legislative majorities across the country, liberal activists like Eric Holder are increasingly turning to the courts to rig the system, shopping for judges that will legislate from the bench. Conservatives must push back against this insurgence in our courts at every step.” Walter added. “As evidenced in recent election cycles, Arkansas is an important state to the RSLC’s Judicial Fairness Imitative and will certainly be critical in November,” Walter concluded.

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