In case you missed it over the weekend, the Charlotte Observer featured an excellent (if sobering) editorial about how the end of public financing and the massive of influx of dark money is transforming the North Carolina Supreme Court into an institution that’s literally for sale to the highest bidder.
“North Carolinians got their first glimpse of big-money Supreme Court races in 2012. Outside groups funneled about $2.3 million into the state to help incumbent Paul Newby, the conservative in the nonpartisan race. That money swamped the $300,000 or so in outside money aimed at helping opponent Sam Ervin IV.
That was the most outside money of any race in the state other than governor. Newby, buoyed by corny banjo-playing TV actors, won 52 percent to 48 percent. That let conservatives maintain a 4-3 majority on the bench.
Special interests could have even more influence this year thanks to at least three changes in the law:
The end of public financing;
An increase in the maximum allowed contribution;
The end of disclosure laws, allowing donors to remain secret.
Republican legislators last year eliminated the public financing program, which had helped judicial candidates rely less heavily on raising money from special interests and even from lawyers who could be arguing cases before them.
A report issued last week found private contributions to Supreme Court races dropped almost in half between 2004 and 2012 with the program in place. Without it, the race for cash is on.”
Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.