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The man behind the demise of publicly-financed judicial campaigns

In case you missed it, Billy Corriher, a native North Carolinian and current Associate Director of Research at Legal Progress— a branch of the Washington, DC-based Center for American Progress — has an excellent “For the record” essay in the Charlotte Observer.

How Art Pope killed a popular judicial financing program

This is the story of how one very wealthy man stopped a government program endorsed by three North Carolina governors (two Republicans and a Democrat), most of the judges from both parties on the state’s top courts, and hundreds of civic and business leaders.

The program began a decade ago to give judicial candidates an alternative to relying on wealthy donors with business pending in the courts. Under the new program, candidates could qualify for a public campaign grant if they refused large donations, accepted spending limits, and showed strong public support by raising hundreds of small donations from voters.

The program has worked remarkably well. Eighty percent of the candidates for the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have enrolled, and it has encouraged more diversity on the bench. One man has long opposed this financing option that limits the influence of wealthy donors.

His name is James Arthur “Art” Pope. Through his family foundation, he finances a network of ultra-conservative organizations that have attacked the judicial program for years. And through his business, he finances groups that are responsible for three fourths of the independent spending that helped elect a Republican majority in the legislature in 2010 and much of the outside money to elect Republican Pat McCrory as governor in 2012….”

Read Corriher’s entire article by clicking here

 

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