In his 2010 dissent in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens warned that the majority had “unleashe[d] the floodgates of corporate and union general treasury spending” in judicial elections. Justice Stevens wrote, “States […] after today, may no longer have the ability to place modest limits on corporate electioneering even if they believe such limits to be critical to maintaining the integrity of their judicial systems.” As if to underscore his concerns, judicial campaign cash set a record in 2012, and for the first time, the type of independent spending unleashed by Citizens United and other federal court rulings nearly exceeded the amount spent by the candidates.
The 2014 judicial elections could see even more campaign cash, thanks to unprecedented plans by national partisan groups to spend millions to influence this year’s judicial races. The Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee, or RSLC, is now the first national party organization focused on electing judges. The RSLC was the biggest spender in the May 5 North Carolina Supreme Court primary election, and four of the seven seats on the court are up for grabs in November.
The RSLC tried unsuccessfully to unseat three Tennessee Justices on August 7. The group’s opposition campaign was aided by its “strategic partner” group, the State Government Leadership Foundation, or SGLF, and the Koch brothers-affiliated Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, both of which are organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Groups claiming this tax status are not legally required to disclose the source of their money. Although all of the funders for these groups are not disclosed, it is known that the Koch brothers founded and substantially fund AFP, and the brothers’ corporation—Koch Industries—is one of the biggest donors to the RSLC.
The RSLC, organized under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, describes itself as “the only national organization whose mission is electing Republicans” to statewide office. The RSLC recently announced that its Judicial Fairness Initiative would “educate” the public about judicial candidates. The RSLC, combined with its SGLF partner, was one of the biggest spenders in the August 7 Tennessee Supreme Court election. The race saw nearly $1.5 million in cash for television ads, and two groups funded by RSLC—the Tennessee Forum and SGLF—spent more than $500,000. The RSLC helped fund attack ads in an unprecedented opposition campaign in which three judges were vying for new terms on the state supreme court.
Unlike previous Tennessee judicial elections, the justices were forced to run ads funded by campaign cash from attorneys with a financial stake in the court’s rulings. Given its deep pockets, the RSLC could come to dominate nonpartisan judicial elections across the country—just as it has in Tennessee. More money means more attack ads and more fundraising by judicial candidates. […]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010—Architect of health insurance mandate leads GOP 2012 field:
|As Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney basically wrote the blueprint for health care reform bill signed into law by President Obama this past March.
Now, as a likely contender for his party's presidential nomination in 2012, he's leading the field, according to the most recent Clarus Group survey conducted last month. Romney gets 26% of the GOP vote compared to 21% for Mike Huckabee. Newt Gingrich is at 14% and Sarah Palin as at 12%.
The cognitive dissonance is deafening: GOPers have declared the health insurance mandate public enemy number one, but more of them support the guy who helped make them become reality than any other candidate. Sure, Romney now tries to pretend he hates the mandate, but he passed into law as governor, embraced it during the 2008 primary campaign, and he wouldn't be able to walk away from it in 2012.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Robin Williams. Ferguson. A song parody by Lauren Mayer. How to get rich people to give you money. Don Siegelman's trial judge is arrested. Gideon reminds us of last month's "how to motivate reluctant voters" story. Parleo says a brand new party sweeping politics in Spain. Then, from "5 Insane Things I Learned as a Foreign Aid Worker" to anti-terrorism "corruption" to militarized cops, via a Chris Hayes tweet. Back to Tucker Carlson: his claims are crap, and enemy of the people said I let him off too easy, so we let Hunter tell us why Carlson's so vile.