After chasing down a story on the Koch Brothers Americans for Prosperity and posting a diary
, I checked my KosMail. Ericlewis0 sent me a link to a shocking new revelation about Judge Randa,
the federal judge who recently shut down the John Doe Probe about illegal coordination between campaigns and dark money astroturf groups like AFP and Club for Growth.
We've already discovered that Randas wife is a frequent donor to Walkers campaigns (less than $100 each time). We also know that Randas Judicial Assistant is the wife of Scott Walkers lawyer, Steven Biskupic. We also know that Randa is a member of the RW Federalist Society.
Today, however, we know that Randa has been attending junkets paid for by RW billionaire funded groups.
The federal judge who ordered a halt to Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal investigation into spending during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections has regularly attended all-expenses paid "judicial junkets" funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and other ideological and corporate interests.
Hmmmm. Koch-funded Club for Growth was one of the organizations bringing the case to court. One would think that Randa should have recused himself from even hearing a case brought by a group from which he has received so much. Apparently he chose not to which casts a poor light on his ruling that favors the dark money organizations that fund his frequent junkets.
An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms. (The 2013 disclosure form has been requested but has not yet been publicly posted).
(bolding is mine)
The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley, and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical. Many of these interests have long opposed limits on money in politics, although it is not known whether campaign finance reform was a topic at the seminars Randa attended.
The seminars amount to a privately-funded all-expenses paid trip for judges, with conference sponsors picking up the costs of a judge's flights, hotel rooms, and meals. One seminar Judge Randa attended was in La Jolla, California, a swanky San Diego suburb that is home to both great golfing and Mitt Romney; the location of other seminars Randa attended is unknown. The content of the seminars has a decidedly pro-corporate bent, and the expensive gifts raise concerns about improper influence when corporate sponsors have a stake in a case before a judge. (Some reports have directly connected the trips to judge's decisions).
No other federal district judge in Wisconsin has attended these seminars.
We have seen exposure of the poisonous influence fully paid ALEC junkets have had on legislators since 2010. ALEC promoted bills keep popping up in state after state to benefit their corporate sponsors. Now, it appears, judges have their own junkets to fill their heads with propaganda and, perhaps, influence a ruling ... or three ... or more. It certainly would make them feel beholden to those who pay for their free junket.
Something smells bad here and it isn't the cheese.
As we have seen from the poor example of some US Supreme Court Justices attending and speaking at ideological events, there's little to no oversight of those who wear black robes and render rulings. They're free to become as bought and paid for as any political hack.
It makes me sick.