New Non-Profit to Battle Negative Judicial Campaigns20-Jan-2016
NEW NONPROFIT TO BATTLE NEGATIVE JUDICIAL CAMPAIGNS
Voters will choose two Arkansas Supreme Court justices and two Court of Appeals judges on March 1, 2016; and if past is prologue, the races could get expensive and negative. The Arkansas Judicial Campaign Conduct and Education Committee, Inc. (the Committee) was formed on July 2, 2015, for just that reason.
The Committee will not support any candidate. The purpose is to try to provide voters with the information they need to make informed choices, to promote fair and impartial courts, and to maintain an independent judiciary.
The nonprofit was incorporated as a result of recommendations in a report published in 2012 by a Task Force on Judicial Election Campaign Reform.
“Of particular concern were…false advertisements being run by well financed third parties and Super PACs,” the report stated. “The fear was that these false ads, which have been run in judicial election races in other states, would appear in Arkansas.”
In the 2014 election between Justice Robin Wynne and Tim Cullen, which Wynne won, a third-party Super PAC ran ads against Cullen, using false information to sway voters. The ad stated that Cullen argued in an appeal that child pornography is a “victimless crime.” The statement was not true, and is an example of what this Committee would respond to.
Money in judicial elections has been on the rise for at least a decade, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United only served to increase the flow of money into elections. Almost $2 million was spent by the candidates in two Arkansas Supreme Court races in 2010, which is a record amount. The Committee cannot do anything about this problem, but it is another example of how expensive and political these races have become.
The Committee is solely funded by private donations and has done the following:
- Created a website located at www.arkansasjudges.org that will provide information about appellate judicial candidates;
- Created a Rapid Response Team that will respond to false attacks against judicial candidates; and
- Encouraged judicial candidates to sign pledges to abide by the Code of Judicial Conduct and disavow false communications in their favor, authorized by third-party groups or Super PACs. Copies of these pledges will be on the website.
Board of Directors:
Ret. Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck, Little Rock
Ret. Justice Robert L. Brown, Little Rock
Hon. Mary McGowan, Sixth Judicial District, Little Rock
Mr. Mark Nichols, Attorney, Little Rock
Mr. Nate Coulter, Attorney, Little Rock
Mr. Jim Julian, Attorney, Little Rock
Mr. Harry Truman Moore, Attorney, Paragould
Ms. Beverly Morrow, Business OwnerLittle Rock
For more information:
Ret. Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck
Ret. Justice Robert Brown
Harry Truman Moore, Attorney