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The Center for American Progress released its list of million-dollar judges — those whose 2012 election campaigns raked in that amount or more, on their own or with the help of independent spending.  Sharing the spotlight on that list is our own Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby:

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby was re-elected with the help of more than $2.5 million in independent spending. The state’s public financing program—long a model for states seeking to keep money out of judicial races—was overwhelmed by money from interest groups such as the state Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, a group affiliated with the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. North Carolina tobacco companies also chipped in hundreds of thousands of dollars after they benefited from a 2009 ruling, authored by Newby, in a dispute with tobacco farmers.

The largest donation, by far, was the more than $1 million from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that helped the state’s Republican legislature draft its recent redistricting maps. Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit alleging that the map disenfranchises minority voters, and the case is currently before the state supreme court. This money was instrumental in keeping a 4-3 conservative majority on the bench. North Carolina’s ethics rules say a judge should not hear a case if his or her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” but Justice Newby will hear the redistricting case despite the fact that he was re-elected thanks to millions of dollars from Republican groups that have a stake in the outcome.

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ICYMI, the head of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study — a previous font of global warming skepticism whose single largest grant comes from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation — has changed his mind. This is from an op-ed he wrote for the New York Times over the weekend:

“Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.”

You can read the entire NYT piece by clicking here.

 

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Mostly lost in the smattering of news stories that the Pope people scratched out yesterday with their new and absurdly misleading TV ad defending the reactionary General Assembly was a fairly remarkable fact: These folks plan to drop a cool half-million bucks on TV ad buys.

You got that? Two “nonpartisan” nonprofits are just casually going to fork out $500,000  over the next few weeks to put TV ads all over North Carolina. It appears they’re even going so far as to buy ads in Norfolk so as to try and cover the northeast corner of the state as well.

How is this possible? How could a pair of groups with modest-sized staffs just happen to have a half-million simoleons lying around?

The answer, almost assuredly is this: The money wasn’t just lying around; it was sitting in a Pope and/or Koch bank account (at least originally) and is now simply being funneled through Civitas and AFP so as to make the whole exercise less egregiously offensive.