North Carolina’s judicial program continues to provide a model for money-in-politics reform efforts around the nation. Both New Mexico and Wisconsin have established programs that are based, in part, on North Carolina’s successful program. Now both West Virginia and Washington state are also following suit.
Last week the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill 67-30 that would establish a public campaign financing pilot for elections to the state’s Supreme Court. This reform victory comes in the aftermath of several recent elections in West Virginia that were plagued by massive special interest spending. The perception of integrity in the state’s judiciary was widely seen as being compromised when several judges who benefited from this special interest election spending made rulings that financially benefited these same groups. (You may remember last year’s high profile U.S. Supreme Court decision in Caperton v. Massey requiring a West Virginia Judge to recuse himself from a case involving one of his largest campaign supporters).
The state of Washington is expected to vote on a judicial public financing program of its own sometime this week. Hopefully, we’ll have good news to report soon!